Writing on Riding

Writing on Riding

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live. – Mark Twain

Beating the Heat in MTB

My brother and I are all set to start The Ledges.

My brother and I are all set to start The Ledges.

I started writing this at my kitchen table at 5:15 AM on a Saturday, breakfast still settling. The day was forecast to be the hottest in northwest Arkansas, and much of the country, so far this year. My brother and I had a plan: get on Bella Vista’s Back 40 when it’s still 75 degrees (the low) and, if all plays out as planned, finish and get off the trail before the mercury reaches 90.

Waking up early to play before the heat reminds me of a tradition that started when we were young children.

Back when we were kids, we often woke to the sound of our grandfather’s basement stairs creaking and then his voice bellowing, “Boys, it’s time to get out of bed.” I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and looked over at the stairway, where Granddad had descended just far enough for us to see him from the knees down.

That was in central Kansas, where temperatures easily reached 110 every year. We got up, ate our cereal and half a grapefruit, and headed out.

We reached Granddad’s golf course near 7 AM and practiced putting while he took care of the fees. Until Granddad got too old, we walked the entire 18-hole round–no mean feat on the hilly, links-style course built on sand dunes. He rolled his golf bag on a hand cart while we lugged ours over our shoulder.

Well into his 70’s we walked the front nine and then rode a cart for the more physically challenging back nine. In his 80’s his final holdout was walking the first seven holes, and then riding the rest, because the number seven green was near the clubhouse.

My bike waits while my brother changes a flat.

My bike waits while my brother changes a flat.

Today, my brother and I got into the woods at about 6:15 AM, to play before the worst heat. With mountain bikes instead of golf clubs, it’s a new family tradition, but it has roots in the old. We rode about 13 miles, powered only by our own legs. That’s similar to golfing without a cart, right?

It would take a leap forward in modern medicine for us to continue doing this into our 80’s. Like Granddad, we’re doing our best to make sure it isn’t the heat that stops us. If that takes getting up before the sun rises, so be it.

I have only one question: when are mountain bike trails going to feature those water coolers with a sleeve of cone-shaped paper cups? Those saved me many times on the golf course.

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