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Sofa King We Todd Did
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
To this newbie, yesterday was a pretty big day for me. Those in the NYC area will undoubtedly have gone out all weekend to squeeze every last ounce of sunlight and dirt out of both days. I was no different. I usually go with my usual small group of friends - everyone's been riding for several years and I'm the newbie with the newest toys in the group.

So yesterday, all of them decide to puss out - "I have rehearsals", "I'm feeling hungover", "I have a birthday party to attend" - but I'll be damned if I'm going to let them sap me of some proper riding. And so I mustered up the guts to go on a ride by myself.

Now, all through the winter, I've been going on rides by myself every weekend, but two-thirds of that is on the roads and the rest of it is on some lightweight wide trails. Hardly anything to get excited over.

But yesterday, I loaded up the bike and drove the 20 minutes to Graham Hills, near Pleasantville, NY. It was a full house - the parking lot was pretty full, but I quickly stuffed the car, pulled off the bike and rode in. I kept telling myself, "Don't do anything stupid, if you get hurt out here, you don't have your buddies to help you out." I had butterflies in my stomach, 'cause I know that this sport can be dangerous if you're careless and the last thing I needed to do was get banged up the beginning of the season. And by myself, no less!

So I took caution. Sometimes I took too much caution. Instead of listening to my instinct to let go of the brakes going downhill - "Let go, let the bike take care of you, let the suspension do its job" - I froze up frequently and that caused me to stall quite a few times. But I also learned for the first time that I have weak ankles. When going downhill, I dropped the seat, hovered my fat ass, and put my feet in the 3- and 9-o'clock position. Halfway down the long dive, my ankles started wobbling relentlessly and this was distracting as well as difficult to bear while going down at around 20mph trying not to crash into rocks and trees. I've gotta find a way to work on my ankles.

The trees were still quite barren, bathing the trails with sunlight, making it rather easy to follow the trails. But being the dumbass that I am, I still managed to get lost a couple of times. But in a good way. Took a wrong turn once and pleasantly experience - and nailed! - a 3- or 4-foot drop. The Lefty ate the whole thing up. Took another wrong turns and rode through what felt like a pool of sticky mud.

The ride was as enjoyable as it was informative. I realized that when I'm riding on my own, I tend to ride a lot faster. No need to wait for anyone, no need to stop as frequently. At the same time, when I falter, I don't have to worry about holding anyone else up. When I'm winded and heaving for breath to save my life, I don't have to worry about looking like a fat f*ck in front of others. When I blow a climb and have to hike it up, my ego doesn't break as hard. And that was the part that was informative for me. I thought that riding through the winter months would help me keep in shape. But I quickly learned that all that road riding did nothing but turn me into a creampuff. The smooth road does nothing to toughen you up for the big burly rocks that threaten to cut you up if you let your guard down, the massive logs you try to cross and fail, the big pits of mud that suck you down hub-deep. I felt like a flan out there.

But still, I survived it. And realized that it was far more hazardous in my head than it was out there on the trails. I can do this. I can find my way, I can ride through safely, I can still have a ton of fun without having to rely on my friend to make the ride with me.

This is probably no big deal for most of you, but for a rookie of sorts, I think I broke new ground yesterday. And next week, I'm going back, with or without my dopey friends!
 

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I tend to do most of my riding alone...

for many of the reasons you mentioned...40 years old, in ok shape but not too slim, liking the idea of not holding other people up (I definitely hike a lot of climbs, and I know Graham well, Working in Ossining I pass it on my way home each day). I guess I've never worried too much about the "what if I get hurt without my friends around?" issue.

Wanna try something really freaky? Try night riding solo. I've ridden a bit of the Old Croton Aquaduct (not too challenging) at night on my own. What's really weird is to stop and look behind you...complete darkness! I also didsome riding last summer along the Jaques Cartier River in Quebec on a snowmobile path at night alone. I've never ridden anywhere at night that was as challenging as graham, though.
 

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Sofa King We Todd Did
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2,262 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I neglected to mention the single coolest thing about my solo ride. As I approached the midpoint of the entire course, I heard rustling to my left and caught sight of a deer galloping away. Only it didn't run far. I quietly pedaled forward 'til I could see it clearly. The deer (couldn't tell if it was a doe or a buck - I'm from the city, gimme a break) looked up and right at me. We looked at each other for what was probably half a minute but felt like an hour, before the deer turned, raised it snow white tail and galloped off into the distance. Its tail was so big that it practically looked like a big dog.

It's cool to see such animals in the metropolitan suburbs.
 
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