Some of you may not know that I haven't always been a cyclist. When Mike and I met (oh so many years ago), I had a hall ornament sold by Sears - a Free Spirit 18 speed mountain bike that weighed approx. 50 lbs (ok, not really, but it was a lot). I moved that bike with me when I came from Canada, and it sat in my hallway, lonely and neglected, for almost a year.
Then came Mike, and my first real MTB - an anodized purple GT Zaskar. The Free Spirit went to a good home, and I actually started to ride the GT. Mike and his friends rode at the Middlesex Fells - it was close, and not all of the trails there were yet illegal, or blown out from use as they are today. That's where I cut my teeth (luckily not literally!) on mountain bike riding.
The place terrified me, though. Roots the size of tree trunks, boulders in the middle of the trails, and who put in all of those hills? While I was happy riding the carriage paths, the group always wanted to ride the hardest lines possible on the most difficult trails. I was often bloodied and bruised from those adventures, but I also became addicted, and eventually, more proficient.
These days, we don't ride at the Fells that often. There is really only one legal loop, and it gets a lot of use, making it not quite as fun. We also have some really good trails right near the house, so making the trek into Winchester is often seen more as a chore. Friday, Mike suggested riding in to the Fells and back on our singlespeeds. Sounded like more than I really wanted to tackle, but after two nights of riding to nowhere in the basement, I was happy just to go outside.
It took us just about an hour to ride the bike path into Arlington, and then to Winchester. We weren't going hard, which fit right into my training plan (although I was only supposed to be riding for an hour total, and we ended up with almost 3.5!). First stop in the woods - Wright's Tower, and it was all uphill. UGH! Amazingly, however, we reached the top, and it seemed much easier than I had remembered from all those years ago!
After taking a few photos, we were off on the NEMBA loop. I was surprised that for such a nice day, we saw few other riders out enjoying the woods. One of the other notable cyclists we encountered, however, was a unicyclist, and it was amazing to watch him roll down some of the rocky descents! Crazy for sure.
We ended up riding the entire NEMBA loop, and all the while, I marveled at the difference between my beginning days as a mountain biker, and where I am now. We left to ride back home, and I was unscathed - no blood, no bruises. But I did leave with some great memories of how my passion for cycling all began.