Old Man Mountain Biker: Why I Ride

October 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

phil hodsdon 223x300 Old Man Mountain Biker:  Why I RideThe Old Man lives in Denver, Colorado and rides 6 days a week.

I am 51 years old, 5’8” and a tad over 200 pounds. I used to be 41 years old, 5’9” and 170 pounds. How the hell did I get to be so old? There is grey in my hair, on my face, and lets not go into the back hair.

I started riding a mountain bike when I moved to Denver from California 4 years ago. I bought one off the Internet; got myself a double suspension Motobecane Mountain bike. The bike came in a big box, delivered by UPS. The local bike shop put it together for 35 bucks and I was in business. It was sized for a guy who was 5’ 8”.

I started to ride every other day. I didn’t have a helmet; no gloves, no water bottle, and none of those faggy bright bike clothes. I rode for 15 minutes at a time….went up a “big” hill and rode back down; broke a small sweat and man, I was “exercising”. I had bought the bike in the fall and when Winter came along, I didn’t ride for 4 months…and I gained another 15 pounds. WTF was I thinking?

Spring awoke and daylight started to come along a bit early…and there was this big huge state park that my home backs up to. I decided to go exploring; the problem was that the park was downhill and it was a long ride back up. What did I see when I started to explore the park?

Well at first, all I saw were “Road Bikes”. I HATE Road Bikes, but that’s another story. I went “off-road” through the walking trails, through the woods, along the reservoir, into the “hiker-only” trails. I started to ride every day. I saw deer, foxes, coyote’s, Big Horned Owls, mice, bright yellow little birdies, and on occasion hikers, who gave me the finger when I was riding on hiker only trails. I sure as hell didn’t see any road bikers. I also developed some favorite trails, learned to stump jump, and oh yeah, got stuck in the mud….did the face plant over the handlebars in the mud, and broke my back axle.

I eventually got a water bottle holder, some bike shoes and socks; finally got 3 pairs of biking tops; one a cool Irish racing team one….but my daughters refuse to let me wear spandex shorts;;;”euuu Dad Grosse…even gay men don’t look good in Spandex”…ok ok ok, so I wear cargo shorts.

So why do I ride? I wake up every day and think to myself, what trail out of hundreds am I going to ride today? Do I want a hard ride or an easy ride? Do I want to jump stumps? Do I want to ride on the ice? The snow? Do I feel like “mudding” today? I need my FIX. I have to ride. If I don’t ride, I feel like something is missing. I need an hour on the bike EVERY day. Work gets in the way, the wife gets in the way, travel gets in the way, school stuff gets in the way, my daughters get in the way and the dog needs to be walked, but damn it…I NEED to ride.

My articles aren’t about what a wonderful technical rider I am and how much I know about Shimano shifters and graphite forks. After all I ride a POS Motobecane. Its about the Ride; mistakes I have made and Graces I have enjoyed by riding. Here are some of the topics I will be covering with you over the coming weeks and months.

1. How to buy a Mountain bike; how to fit your size to the frame, and the critical positioning of the seat post and how to keep from becoming sterile. (lol)

2. Riding a Mountain bike over frozen lakes and what to do when you hit “slick Ice”.

3. How to ride in the snow.

4. How to fit your bike riding into your work schedule.

5. How to dress for riding.

6. Cool place to Ride in Colorado.

7. Downhill Extreme Mountain biking

8. Why Assholes on Road bikes pass you easily.

9. How to break your back crankshaft while jumping tree logs.

10. Best way to warp your frame; or the difference between carbon and aluminum and why you should care.

See you on the Trail…

Communing with the Animal Kingdom: Disney Moments on the Mountain Bike

September 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips

Think back for a moment to the early Disney movies: the pre-Pixar, pre-Toy Story era. Before Monsters, Inc., Shrek, and Finding Nemo.

Disney used to remake stories the Brothers Grimm penned 200 years ago: Snow White, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood, to name a few. Remember Cinderella being dressed for the ball by mice and Snow White cavorting with butterflies? Remember Little Red Riding Hood speaking to the wolf, who was dressed as her gobbled-up grandmother?

In each of these (and countless others) Disney movies, the line between the human kingdom and the animal kingdom is blurred. Friendships are formed. Mice sew. Wolves wear pajamas. Butterflies land on fingers and stay there. Animals become personified, acting out the role of friend, support staff, or murderer. These moments of human-animal (or insect) bonding I have coined Disney Moments.

These moments are not, however, confined to the big and small screens; they can and have happened to countless nature lovers, including mountain bikers. Disney Moments are perhaps one of the coolest by-products of mountain biking. More John Muir than Cinderella, Disney Moments require frequent riding, keen observing, and an open mind.

My first Disney Moment occurred five autumns ago at the Apex Trail in Golden, Colorado. My friend Todd and I were testing out our new Yetis—our first foray into the full-suspension world. We had some trouble getting used to our back shocks bouncing on the tricky-rocky terrain that Apex is notorious for. The local flora was withering, turning into the grey-brown that blankets Colorado’s Front Range during the fall and winter. My attention was focused on my chain, which was clickety-clacking as I grew accustomed to a new gearing system. I entered into a grove of waist-high dying Colorado grasses when a covey of birds, who had been lazily lounging in the meadow, were suddenly brought out their slumber by the mechanical noises of an approaching stranger. In a move of solidarity, the birds rose vertically and hovered helicopter-style at the top of the withering grass. I stopped riding and marveled at the flap-flap-flap-flap-flap that cut through the still fall air. I watched my breath form puffy clouds as I laughed wondrously, surrounded by the birds of Snow White’s forest. In an instant, they were gone.

butterfly rw zoo 300x225 Communing with the Animal Kingdom: Disney Moments on the Mountain BikeThe following summer my friend Courtney and I were riding the sometimes-grueling, always fun Waterton Canyon-Roxborough State Park loop, which begins the 500-mile long Colorado Trail. On the tail end of the ride, the terrain goes from a pine-shaded canopy to a small meadow back to another canopy. It had rained the day before, so standing water dotted the meadow portion of the trail. As I approached the first puddle and steered myself to ride through it, I spied a few butterflies sipping cool Colorado water. As soon as my front tire hit the first puddle, the butterflies, much like the birds of the prior fall, fluttered skyward and hovered at my handlebars, jumping around my gloved fingers. They flashed their yellow, blue, and brown brilliance in front of my eyes, and we played in the same space as I rode through them, giggling like a twelve-year old.  Read more