Have you heard the news? The outdoors are in!
That’s right, step outside your home and away from your devices. Then notice a whole world open to you where you can use those six senses that have been underutilized for more than a year.
Hop on your bike and see the glory of the high peaks in the White Mountains. Hear a rushing river. Taste a frosty local brew after meandering the dirt gold of singletrack. Touch the warmth of the sun with the tip of your nose. Use that sixth sense to know there is a small Peloton of riders behind you about to whizz by without saying a word.
And smell — cannabis! Though I have no hard data to confirm my observation, I think the smell of wafting weed emanating from buzzing vehicles carrying product from recreational marijuana legal states like Maine and Massachusetts are the reason some cyclists are singing Weezer’s toking tune “Hash Pipe” while pedaling.
I think skunky pot has replaced sizzling bacon from home kitchens as the No. 1 aroma many bikers now smell but I think that’s somewhat counter-intuitive since crispy bacon is a go-to food for many stoners, I hear. Go figure.
Anyway, the mainstream media has been loaded with articles about cycling. The Washington Post had one recently about what to bring for a bicycle overnight trip. The New York Times wrote about cities in Europe investing in cycling infrastructure can encourage bike commuting and reduce greenhouse emissions. You remember Europe, right? Those countries we used to fly to on those winged contraptions called planes that took us to places with different foods, languages, culture and football with a round ball and no pads.
Then there is the fun-loving and insightful Jason Gay in The Wall Street Journal, a top reason for shelling out a few bucks a month for an introductory rate digital subscription. The guy’s a wicked pissah, smart, writes about cycling a lot and was the inspiration for this column.
Consider this gleeful nugget: “You simply step outside, and from there, you can walk, run, sprint, crawl, dance, hike, bike, unicycle, juggle chain saws while riding a unicycle, pogo stick, play golf, play tennis, play pickleball, fence, joust, kick, chop, climb, skydive, or simply stand and look up at that bright yellow orb in the sky and feel that warmth on your face. It’s all good for you. Except golf. Golf crushes your soul and makes you cry yourself to sleep.”
Hmm, sounds like his warmth on your face and my touching the sun thing with our noses are sorta kinda close.
Anyway, before ski season, we saw stories about a boom in backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Well, guess what? They were right. People want to get outside during a pandemic, even if it’s cold and snowy.
Well, now the snow and cold are (almost) gone. Now people want to ride their bikes outside and not on those inside ones that don’t go anywhere.
They want to go somewhere now that high humidity, black flies and getting the figurative finger sometimes while road riding are in their futures.
Mountain biking is experiencing a renaissance. E-bikes are now a viable alternative mode of transportation. Gravel bikes are still hot. Bike travel’s on the radar. People are buying more bikes but manufacturers are having a tough time keeping up with demand. The same thing goes for certain bike parts and accessories.
So people are going to ride and they are going to come to the valley to do it just like last summer when hubs like the Marshall parking area were packed on weekends. When they come, and they will, let’s all — including us locals — be smart.
If you pack it in, pack it out. Follow the COVID-19 protocols. Use hand signals. Comply with traffic laws. Just like in skiing, midweek should be your mantra for those who can. While in the woods, remember there are multiple property owners and entities out there.
The last thing forest lovers want is for a rider to drop trow for some relief unwittingly within sight of a parent or grandparent on their own land enjoying some family time with the young’uns.
That’s not good for relations.
So keep your shorts on.
Leave the screens inside.
Well, unless you need directions, post a selfie, want to know your speed or are ordering that post-ride pizza and brew.