So last week while taking a friend mountain biking on her new 29er, I noted how well she was doing for a relative newbie. Though a strong triathlete, she had been injured while running, with subsequent surgery and she had spent little time doing much more than swimming, road riding and physical therapy. I commented to Emi, on how well she was handling the twisty singletrack, and managing to get over the roots and small logs. She reminded me that she used to play violin in her not-so-distant youth, and felt that it was similar.. scanning the score ahead while managing to play the tune on demand, sight-reading the trail as it were! Having a (distant) background in flute and recorder, I loved the analogy, and took it with me as Dennis and I rode this warm autumn morning. I have often marvelled how we can ride in synch together, and at this time of year, having not been training very intensively for a couple of months, we are quite close in strength and speed. Since the Vermont 50 race, we still have a 32 x 18 gear set-up, so as we headed out on the blue trail, we rode stroke for stroke, barely an inch between my front tire and his rear wheel a capella together through the trees. Peak colours are just past, and the wind is causing showes of leaves to fall as we ride, hiding the trail in front of us and covering it as we pass, silent, poco allegro. We wound our way down the Switchback trail, carving into the berms scoured out by the illegal, inconsiderate dirtbike riders: I made a mental note to contact C.L.I.M.B's (concerned long island mountain bikers) president Mike Vitti, who has helped recover and renovate other damaged trails in the area. Our group SPOKESPEOPLE has made a strong connection with the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society and have a plan for dealing with transgressors adn those who facilitate them.. Watch this space.. and http://www.spokespeopleli.org/ ! The farmstand loop was sweet, fast and flowing, and we blasted along, only to slow andante past the EHTPS hikers.
Dennis and I don't speak as we ride, except to remark on the burning colours of the wild bluberry bushes, or groan as we test our jello-legs on the climbs not recently ridden! Many times, we ride so close in space, it feels like we are extensions of each other, his slight leaning leading me through the corners, my front wheel bunny hopping over fallen logs almost synchronous with his rear wheel landing. Batthump, batthump shoooosh, shoooosh. Like a heartbeat. Like a metronome. The Gun club trail was a rude awakening to our fitness level, with us making it up all but one of the climbs, but not without a serious stress on our lungs and legs! I love this feeling, a touch of dizziness, hollow legs, and then a well timed downhill to recover on.. I look forward to long, cool Autumn rides to get my base fitness back, already dreaming of sliding out on pine needles and russet leaves on tomorrow's ride. Behind Dennis, or leading him, feeling the rhythm, making our own music in the silent woods.