My mountain bike, an old Bridgestone MB-4, has been hanging on a hook since my last short-track race in July 2012. That's right, my short-tack bike has not been ridden in a year and a half. In fact, it still has the dust from that last race, a fine film of motocross powder that can barely been seen on the frame and rims. When I go to grab my city bike, sitting to one side, I sometimes have looked at my mountain bike and winced in shame and guilt.
But a plan is hatching in my brain, a plan that would allow me to ride off-road, have a good time doing it, and not have to depend on rides out of the city.
What if I look for off-road opportunities within Portland's city limits? Between the many side streets in Portland's eastside neighborhoods marked with "Roadway Not Improved" signs, the tiny skills park at one end of New Columbia, and Leif Erickson drive up in Forest Park, there really is no excuse for me to avoid off-road riding if I carve out regular time for it. And becuse it's all small stuff, short "courses" that aren't so technical as to be dangerous, I can use them simply to keep my off-road skills from contentedly packing up and flying to Reno.
I have another week of vacation, and the weather forecast calls for showers and temps in the high 40s during the day. I have some time this week to check out a couple of possibilities and hopefully establish some regular rides that I can pull out of my pocket when I need to go a shred a tiny bit. Will I race again? I don't know. It looks like I'll be invited back to Kansas again in June (the contract is being prepared and I should see it in January), so if I do race it will only be a few short-track races. But really, I find I'm less interested in racing and more interested in Just Riding for fun. I can't predict what kind of riding I'll be doing next summer, but I know that on Thursday morning this week, I'll be
taking a spin on a mountain bike with pumped-up tires and a freshly-oiled chain and seeing what kind of skills I've managed to hang onto after a year-plus of sticking to pavement.
(Special thanks to Joshua Bryant for suggesting a good route up to Forest Park.)