Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday Pugsley expedition

Date: Oct. 25
Mileage: 9.4
October mileage: 540.9
Temperature upon departure: 41
Rainfall: 0.25"

Another Thursday, another low-mileage, time-consuming, mud-slinging, shin-bashing exploration ride on the Pugsley.

Another ode to the big wheels, great conquerors of mud.

Geoff told me I should try to ride the Treadwell Ditch Trail, the closest trail to our house. It's a cross-country ski trail that's marginally bikeable in the winter, when the snow conditions are good (which is to say, terrible for cross-country skiing.) But in the off-season, the trail is so crappy muddy that even hikers rarely use it. An endless web of wet roots makes it completely unrideable (wet roots are, after all, the slipperiest substance known to mountain bikers. You could run an oil slick across a patch of glare ice, and it still wouldn't be as slippery as a string of wet roots.) But Pugsley is such a tank that you don't even have to pick the perfect line through the roots. You just point the bike forward and go. (Which is good, because I still think the Pugsley steers like a bus with a flat tire.)

I know that riding muddy trails is generally a violation of mountain biking ethics. But the reasons for that ethical code don't really hold up here in the rainforest: The trail won't dry with deep tracks through the center, because the trail never dries. Rain works faster than even the best intentions. It won't take more than a couple of days for all evidence that I came through here to be wiped away. So yes, I do ride in the mud without guilt. I ride in the mud at 4 mph. I ride in the mud with a big mud-eating grin on my face, because my teeth are full of mud, and my torso is covered in mud, and my wheels are sinking to the hubs in mud, but I'm still riding ... in the mud. And I've never been able to do that before.

It's a ton of fun ... but not exactly efficient. It took two hours to cover less than 10 miles today - only seven of which was actual trail. Ever since I finished this bike, I have only used it as a toy. On the beach ... in the mud ... weaving through abandoned army infrastructure. It's all been about having fun. Someday, not too far into the future, I plan to use this bike for serious training. And right now, it's hard for me to even imagine it. Hill intervals? Nordic trail laps? Day-long endurance rides? Overnighters?

For now, we will splash in the mud and enjoy the last days of our innocence.