There’s nothing quite like winning a free piece of equipment to motivate me to try something new. In this case, it was a Scott Aspect 930 mountain bike – the grand prize at the end of a long night of Santacon pub crawling (don’t ask). It also happened to be my birthday. My ticket was purchased for me, so the win was especially sweet. Then I got the bike home and had to figure out what to do next.
Spend a few minutes with me, and you’ll quickly learn of my love for the trails. Whether it’s a local trail with Louisiana pines and bayous, or a destination run with an altogether different climate, there’s something about trail running that makes me feel at home. It’s my place to unwind, to decompress, to push myself. It’s my therapy.
About five years ago, I began road cycling as a way to rehabilitate my right knee following surgery. I certainly wouldn’t call myself fast or elite, but I hold my own. My longest ride to date is 80 miles. On pavement. As I’ve come to learn, trail riding is a completely different animal.
My first venture out on the new trail bike took me to the Red River Wildlife Refuge, a hidden gem in northwest Louisiana. I was able to test the bike (and my own mettle) on fairly flat surfaces of packed single-track, gravel, swampy mud and some asphalt.
The bike felt good on all surfaces. I especially appreciated the easy-to-use lock out feature that allowed me to adjust the suspension when riding pavement or on uphill climbs. Shifting was a breeze, and there were lots of gears to choose from. I was already used to disc brakes from my road bike, so I found these comparable (if a little touchy). I even experienced my first flat when I picked up a piece of a large thorn bush. Luckily, I was close to my car.
I enjoyed the experience enough to do it again the very next day, and I find myself wondering why I never tried this before. It’s the perfect combination of two of my loves – trails and bikes. What a great birthday present this turned out to be. I’ll admit, bumping over trails two days in a row left me feeling each of my 45 years. I can’t wait to head out again!