If you are looking to buy a mountain bike for the first time as an adult, don’t do it.
Don’t buy one.
Well, at least if your sole focus is going to be on that…buying the mountain bike.
And that is really easy to do given the eye-candy design of mountain bikes these days.
But if that is all you are looking to do - buy the mountain bike - then you’ll get one.
And possibly a good one.
Most likely online.
And for less money than at your Local Bike Shop.
And once purchased, the bike might get a few rides.
Then it will rust with good intention.
In your garage.
Or your basement.
Wherever you store your bad purchases.
And you will look to sell your first adult mountain bike on Facebook.
Four years after you bought it.
Because of the realization that it is no longer worth what you paid for it.
Because the dominant variables in your purchase - the price and its parts - were misguided.
And not where a first mountain bike’s true worth is determined.
Or any mountain bike's worth, actually.
The worth is not in its price.
Or in the quality of its parts.
Or in what a magazine says.
Or an online review.
But rather in The Community that it introduces you to.
Where people will care about you.
And support you.
Not only in biking.
But in life.
Asking about the stresses in your job.
And the challenges you face.
Inquiring how your daughter is doing.
And your wife.
Sincerely and genuinely inquiring.
At the trailhead.
Or at the top of a climb.
While looking you in the eye.
And touching your arm in understanding.
Encouraging you when your bike posture and riding pace show sadness.
Not asking questions when you are quiet on a ride.
Or fall behind the group because you are tired.
Or simply out of shape.
Because life has gotten in the way.
A Community that accepts you as you are.
But a work in progress.
#dirtchurch #circleswithmyfeet @masonracingcycles
A community that high fives you when you finally clear that obstacle that has previously made you dismount.
And laughs with you when you fall off your bike, unhurt, and covered in mud. Or snow.
And yes, a Community that gives you a beer in the parking lot after the ride.
When you do not have one of your own.
When you look to buy your first adult mountain bike, look first at the community it will introduce you to.
And then consider price. And parts. And reviews.
And buy from a Local Bike Shop.
That is where community is created.
And where it is sustained.
Then you will ride.
And nothing will rust.
Or need to be sold.
And you will not be annoyed.
You will be happy.
And cared for.
Disclaimer: I can be a bit of a nostalgic fool.
For proof of that statement, look no farther than under the seat of my mountain bike.
‘Doug’ says the license plate hanging there: ‘Green Mountain State.’
I was nine years old when I got it. I saved ten box tops from Honeycomb Cereal and mailed those in along with a $1.25. The latter being earned from delivering eggs once a week to Lila Onsruth.
Lila paid my parents $1.00 for the eggs and me .25 cents for pedaling them to her house on my bright red Raleigh Chopper.
In hindsight, I should have appreciated Lila’s 25% tip a bit more. Not a sweeter woman has the world known. I hope my thoughts of her now, thirty-eight years later, make up that lack.
Bless you, Lila. Bless you.
It took me a long time to save up that $1.25.
I had to use Lila’s tips for more than a few things. The main being the replenishment of dry flies lost from not knowing how to roll cast.
There is most certainly a Sugar Maple or two at the trout hole on the White River - across from the old Kelton Complex - that is littered with Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ears.
Nonetheless, after a few months of not losing flies (and not buying Coca-Cola from Laro’s Country Store), I saved up enough to buy the license plate and watched the mail for weeks waiting for it to be delivered.
Mr. Martin, our mailman, after more than a few disappointing days of me standing at the mailbox in anticipation, shared in my excitement when it finally arrived.
He drove a white Jeep Wagoneer and stopped his day for fifteen minutes to not only celebrate with me the license plate’s arrival but to also help fasten it to my bike.
Zip-ties were not an accessible commodity then but by chance (or design) Mr. Martin did have some small hose clamps that connected the metal loops of the license plate to the frame of the banana seat on my bike.
Bless you Mr. Martin. Bless you.
And there it is.
Ever since that early July day in 1980, after the first cut of hay was in the barn, that license plate has found its way on every bike I have ever owned.
Raleigh Chopper. Kuwahara Apollo. Haro Freestyler. Haro Freesport. Haro Master. Torpado. Trek 520. Specialized Hardrock. Parkpre Scepter Comp, Jamis Dakar Sport, Ritchey NiTi, Trek 850, KHS Solo One, Trek 520, KHS Solo One SE, Salsa Mukluk 3, Salsa Mukluk GX1.
And I have been laughed at and ridiculed because of that license plate. I am now forty-seven after all. And it is a bit strange to see on the bike of a middle-aged man. But I have also been complimented. A lot.
Either way. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. It brings me back. To Lila. To Mr. Martin. And to a thousand (maybe ten thousand) smiles of rides forgotten and also some remembered.
That silly, young-boy’s license plate is simply a connection and a thread. To my childhood. To the innocence there. To the lack of stress. And responsibility. Things that still disappear quickly when I begin to make circles with my feet.
It connects me. From carrying eggs and fly rods to college texts, lesson plans, and my beautiful daughter.
And yes, it also connects me to worries, anxiety, and hard times. But such is life. Such is life.
What will I carry next? What will it connect me to in the future?
I look forward to finding out.
#circleswithmyfeet #salsacycles #vaultpedals #wtb
It is called The Waiting Room.
It is not majestic. Nothing that would be seen in the annals of a mountain bike magazine or a fast moving Pinkbike clip. It doesn’t even possess an encompassing or stunning view. Unless of course a set of power lines is considered ‘stunning’ (see what I did there?). They are only feet away.
Rather, it has a log. A log cut to hold a bike. Or a butt. The rider decides. For me, usually, it is my bike.
And it has a fire pit. Used infrequently but most prodigiously on the Thanksgiving Day ride.
It also has an appropriate number of leaves, trees, and sticks. And sometimes a bear. Off in the distance, hopefully.
But regardless of all that, The Waiting Room is a destination for any mountain biker in the Boston Lot trail network in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
The Waiting Room is a spot, if you will, of prominence. Or maybe even significance. Although it doesn’t have a sign to identify itself. Like the trails do. I suspect that it is not the least bit jealous, though.
And what, per se, does a rider wait for in The Waiting Room?
I have been asked that question again and again. By my wife, non-rider friends, family, colleagues, and anyone else hearing me proclaim through conversation or social media the benefits of stopping there. And waiting.
Given its name, it is a necessary question to ask. However, it is not an easy question to answer.
Maybe the difficulty in the answer comes in its connection for my need to ride. And that is hard to explain, too. So much need. Such few words. Story of my life.
I just have to do them. That’s all. Ride. And wait. Both restore me.
But that answer might be unsatisfactory to some. Even to me at times. So here it goes. An attempted answer. An acceptable one.
I wait for a lot.
I wait for another rider. Or a breeze. Sometimes I wait for a sound. Or silence. Or a vision of something positive. Often I wait on God. He has certainly found me there. And visa versa.
Sometimes others wait for me. I am not fast climbing. And they are. Particularly ‘Android Snackbar’ of Strava, Mason Racing bike shop, and Highland Mountain Bike Park fame. Or even Bruce Hathorn. Of childhood-friend fame.
Or maybe I am waiting for a beer. Some days it might be that simple. A beer. With Android or Bruce, a beer is always a possibility. Thank God for that.
I guess, in the end, of these words and the importance of the question, the waiting in The Waiting Room does not need explanation. And neither does my need to ride. Despite others. Despite myself. Both are simply what they are. Riding. Waiting. Amen.