March 13th marked the official start of my mountain bike season. That is to say, I rode my bike on actual single-track… hallelujah! Can I get an amen?!? A small group of us trekked from the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area (all LAMBA members) to Sylvan Island for an afternoon of riding. The weather was perfect, and the desire to ride was ample. Unfortunately for myself, I was a little rusty when it came to packing the Subie for a mountain bike day trip. I may have forgotten a few items (no GoPro, ugh!), but nothing that was show stopper.

My Subie packing skills weren’t the only thing that were rusty. After a few minutes on the trail, it was obvious my timing skills were a little off too. I was picking horrible lines, bashing into stumps and rocks just before picking my front wheel up…it was embarrassingly sloppy, though I think I was the only one that really noticed. Still, I remained upright all afternoon, so that’s not so bad, and eventually, my timing started coming back and the bike and I became one…one big bull in a china shop…but at least we felt like one.

There were five of us in total, until roughly noon. JH had to drop out and head home. The remaining four of us didn’t want to stop — it was just too rare of an opportunity, to stop so soon. So we kept on a riding until we started feeling those annoying little hunger pangs. Still, we thought we could power through for just a little longer…but it would soon be obvious we should have called it a day.

We decided we could get another lap or two in before heading out for lunch. Not even 5 minutes later, ILT snagged a branch in his rear tire, breaking the derailleur hanger and twisting the shit out of his derailleur — it was a horrible mess. Too bad too…this is the one guy who really can’t afford that type of mechanical breakdown. So ILT walked his bike back toward the parking lot, and the remaining three decided to finish the lap we had started. Once again, that would prove to be a mistake.

DC took a low-hanging branch right upside the head. We’re not talking a glancing blow, we’re talking about, dent-a-helmet-type-o-wallop, that we all dread. It rang his bell, no doubt, but DC is one tuffsonnuvabitch! Of course being the awesome trail stewards that we are, we decided we needed to clear this low-hanging branch for the next group of riders. However, in the process, a four foot section of a dead tree nearly fell on my head. It was a very close call. It was clear…we needed to fold’em.  That’s when we decided to get the hell out of there…it was beer:thirty.

The afternoon ended as it should…at a brewery where a guy could get a great mug-o-beer and a burger. And for ILT, the day ended w/ a very generous gesture. DC had a spare derailleur he could have. It wasn’t in perfect shape, but it was easily recondition-a-bull. ILT would still need to purchase a hanger, but hey, that’s a small price to pay for the fun that was had. You know, that’s what I love about mountain bikers. In general, we all stick together and help each other out. I event traded a pair of old Crank Brother’s Egg Beaters to a guy for a growler of beer…just because he had a broken pedal and I like beer.

Until next time…keep your tires in the dirt.






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