Little Things

09.25.2006 | 2:33 am

As of Saturday, the Autumn weather has turned into what it’s supposed to be. In the morning you need to ride in tights and long sleeves, but in the afternoon, it’s just warm enough to ride in shorts and short sleeves, provided you keep up the pace. The sun’s bright; the sky’s clear. There are dozens of hang gliders and paragliders in the air off the point of the mountain (I’ve got to try that some day).

To cap it all off, Tuesday a group of us — Kenny, Gary, Dug, Brad, Rocky, the three Richards, BotchedExperiment, and I are going to ride Gooseberry Mesa, a serious contender for one of the top 10 trails in Utah, and therefore one of the top 20 in the US.

In short, my mood is as good now as it was bad last Friday. Maybe that’s why, as I rode to work Saturday (got a big project due Friday; if I’m going to take Tuesday off, I had to put in some weekend hours — a reasonable trade), I noticed all kinds of things I love about riding my bike.

Little stuff. Stuff I normally don’t even think about, but which I’m pretty confident anyone who rides knows what I’m talking about.

  • Catching up with a car at successive lights. Off the green, you’re the first person, until maybe just a few feet past the intersection. Then you get swept up and passed by traffic. But wait a second, there’s the next light, and it’s red. You ride past everyone who just passed you, back up to the front, getting there just long enough to trackstand for three seconds (which is about as long as I can hold a trackstand) and you are once again the first guy, in front of the same group of cars.
  • Having someone wave from a car. For every jerk who honks or swerves, trying to unnerve me, I’ll bet there are ten people in cars who wave, or — once in a while — yell some encouragement (I can never tell what they’re saying). And you know, only about half of those cars have bike racks on them.
  • Carving a fast left turn. A good supple road tire on a good road bike on a good road can lean at crazy angles at crazy speeds. I get every bit as much of an adrenaline rush from hitting a left turn at speed — no brakes — and coming out of the turn as fast as I went in as I do successfully cleaning a technical move on my mountain bike.
  • Drip. Riding in a nice, straight line on a road bike, sometimes it’s nice to just put your head down and focus on the effort. As I do this, the sweat runs down from my forehead to the tip of my nose, and then drips, regular as clockwork. I like watching that drop of water fall to the left of my top tube (I’ve never thought about it before, but for me it’s always the left of the top tube), thinking about how cool it is that because the water’s going the same speed as me, it looks like it’s falling straight down. Then it hits the pavement and — zing! — seems to shoot backward as it stops and I keep going.
  • Fresh, smooth pavement. I rarely think about the texture of the pavement I’m riding on unless it’s especially bad. When Kenny and I rode the Nebo Loop a few weeks ago, though, we hit a five mile stretch of brand new pavement that was just elegant. It was so smooth your riding effort dropped perceptibly while riding it. I notched it up a gear and looked at my speedometer: 27mph. The speed and silence of a well-tuned road bike on perfect pavement is something to be savored. 
  • Being 90% up a hard climb. I seek out rides with climbs, whether I’m on a road or mountain bike. I’ve often wondered, though, why I do this. These climbs hurt, after all. Last Saturday, though, as I came to the final stretch of the north side of the Suncrest climb, it hit me: I love the last 10% of a climb, where I know I’m going to finish, and feel like I can open it up and put my heart into the final push. It’s strange how it both hurts like crazy and feels like victory, at the same time.
  • Putting the bottle away perfectly. You’re in a paceline — or maybe you’re by yourself, but thinking about the next time you’re going to be in a paceline. You want a drink. You grab the bottle without looking — while still pedaling. That’s easy. Then, you put it away. Again, without looking, you push the bottle back toward its cage. Most times it kind of hits the rim of the cage and you’ve got to nudge it left or right a little bit to seat it. Once in a while, though, it just sinks right down the middle, as if it had been vacuumed in. Nothing but net.

There are more little things — lots more — to love about biking.

Tell me what they are.


  1. Comment by Zed | 09.25.2006 | 3:25 am

    Love the drip. I also love how, even though the temperature’s 20+ degrees lower, I can still get a sweat drip going during a set of hill intervals.

  2. Comment by Zed | 09.25.2006 | 3:32 am

    Here’s another Gooseberry review, btw (referring to it as "The most incredible mountain bike trail in the US!" and "the most fun you can have on a bike"):

  3. Comment by Unknown | 09.25.2006 | 3:41 am

    The "what, are you nuts?!" look you get from non-cyclists when they see you out in the cold, or the rain, or the… etc.
    I just learned this pleasure last week.

  4. Comment by Born4Lycra | 09.25.2006 | 3:44 am

    I really enjoy the fact that when I am on my bike every other rider I see during my ride is a mate. Doesn’t matter whether going fast or slow I will take the time to acknowledge them and them me. They will without fail offer assistance when needed and advice when requested. Often I don’t know them and may never see them again I may also go on and forge life long friendships but for a moment there at the start we were just linked by the "Force" of the bike. I love it – it’s Brilliant.  Note no name or picture today. Hopefully me and dana are talking tonight and i can fix it up.

  5. Comment by Colin | 09.25.2006 | 8:51 am

    Riding home in a tailwind after grinding it out into the wind.  

  6. Comment by Woody13Fox | 09.25.2006 | 1:05 pm

    Finishing a tough ride with friends, all dead tired, experiencing the bliss of accomplishment and comaraderie.  Everyone in their own world of thought as you enjoy the endorphins and natural surroundings.   

  7. Comment by William | 09.25.2006 | 1:33 pm

    This is an easy one. Click. Click, click, click. The awesome sound of a group ride clipping in and taking off from the parking lot of the bike shop.

  8. Comment by sans auto | 09.25.2006 | 2:10 pm

    Riding fast enough to make your eyes water and feeling the tear slowly blow back into your ear.
    I’m not a sweater, I like the drip of water that forms on front edge of my helmet in the rain and dances back and forth as I ride.  The last rain was 19 pedal strokes to a drip on the fixie.
    Accidentally catching air on a road decent and coming down smoothly.
    Pulling up to a convenience store 50 miles from the nearest town.

  9. Comment by Tim D | 09.25.2006 | 3:25 pm

    Getting to the pub.
    Taking 15 miles to do the 6 mile journey to work
    The quiet

  10. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 09.25.2006 | 3:43 pm

    You forgot another key aspect of your commute Saturday morning: an incessantly complaining riding partner. I mean if you were having the Fat Cyclist Superwhiner No-Holds-Barred Bitchoff Contest, I would have easily won it.
    glunk clunk–cglunk–glunk clunk clunk: The sound of a randomly shifiting derraileur on a (yet again) bent hanger. Love that sound. . . It’s why I’m switching to single speed. That and peer pressure.

  11. Comment by Gina | 09.25.2006 | 4:49 pm

    Easy. The best part of cycling is hanging out in front of the convenience store with all your buddies 50 miles into your ride, with all the gas buyers looking at you like your a freak show, all the while you are telling stories and taking in the that apple danish that came straight off the Hostess display shelf that has 600 calories per serving. And their are two servings.
    Freight Train

  12. Comment by Joshua | 09.25.2006 | 5:10 pm

    my commute takes me through a park that has a river running through it.  the best feeling is a warm summer morning, little bit of sweat running down the head.  make that left turn into the park, and like walking into giant cooler  (like the vegitable one at costco), the temp drops about 10+ degrees, the fog still clings to the ground, its cools me off so well, that’s usualy when the rabbit looks at me like i’m crazy because its way to early to be so happy. :)

  13. Comment by Kristen | 09.25.2006 | 5:54 pm

    For me: seeing the sun come up behind and to the North of Mt Hood.
    Passing the long line of cars waiting for the stop light, and knowing that if I had drove, I would be waiting and waiting and waiting.
    The coolness under the trees, the other riders, and knowing that in the time it would take me to drive, I got to ride, and it feels good.
    Oh, and knowing that I get to ride home! :)

  14. Comment by Unknown | 09.25.2006 | 7:02 pm

    riding at night with a niterider mega light and watching people in cars at intersections actually wait for you.  they think it’s a motorcycle and it’s just a lowly bicycle. some are surprised, others, are pissed.
    elden, i’m heading to interbike in vegas tomorrow, can i get you anything to go along with those ipods i’m (not likely) sending you?

  15. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 09.25.2006 | 7:47 pm

    I think riding for 150 minutes instead of reading 150 pages of a textbook is a perfect afternoon.

  16. Comment by Andrew | 09.25.2006 | 8:50 pm

    I love to hear these words: "That was a great ride. Let’s do it again next week."
    But the finest thing is getting new toys. I purchased my first air shock to replace a crappy old coil shock. So I had to get a shock pump. People who use shock pumps are cool, and looking cool is almost as rewarding as having a good ride. Especially if there are babes around.
    the weak link

  17. Comment by Random Reviewer | 09.25.2006 | 10:42 pm

    i feel like i just watched oprah’s favorite things episode.

  18. Comment by Unknown | 09.25.2006 | 11:22 pm

    Thought to savor: Getting to ride again after a long convalescence because of a slowly healing injury.
    Joe in SC
    PS: Another pleasantry is reading your missives.

  19. Comment by Unknown | 09.26.2006 | 1:50 am

    Riding home at night along the bike path.  Silent, and pitch black all around, except for the tunnel of light from my lamp.

  20. Comment by Walter | 09.26.2006 | 2:26 am

    I love the humming/buzzing sound of riding in a group, early in the morning, everyone going the same speed, nobody saying a word, just enjoying the moment — just the buzz/hum, and the silence of the early morning.

  21. Comment by Unknown | 09.26.2006 | 3:16 am

    Riding behind some hot velo chick with a cute butt for mile after mile after mile….

  22. Comment by Unknown | 09.26.2006 | 3:46 am

    Beer! Duh, people!  Word to the mutha, Dug.  Fatty, please move along.

  23. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 09.26.2006 | 4:56 am

    everyone but dug and brad – i love you guys. come give me a metaphorical hug.
    brad – you always have had a difficult time with honest emotion. what is it going to take for you to tear down that wall?
    dug – hi, kettle!

  24. Comment by Unknown | 09.26.2006 | 1:56 pm

    The sound of ultimate suffering…the sound of blood spurting from my eyes…the creaking of my knees and of my hips…it’s the little things that make cycling such a joy.

  25. Comment by uncadan8 | 09.26.2006 | 6:59 pm

    I love the look on the face of a little kid in the back seat of a car as I ride by: part wonder, part envy, part hope, and a lot of joy. Because he knows the feeling.

  26. Comment by Unknown | 09.26.2006 | 8:42 pm

    It used to be all of the below (above) (I think the comments are posted successively, right?) Now, after finally having a big injury in a high speed crash last November, I can honestly say what I have been mouthing (not truly sincerely) to many for the last generation or so are probably words, just words, meant to console, but mostly saying, "Glad is wasn’t me."

    Here’s a little thing:
    Stopping in the long driveway after finishing a ride, climbing the big mountain to get home, and feeling all of that pain just start to subside, and it goes away bit by bit, slowly, and I know that today was better than yesterday, and that was better than last week, or month, and that next week and next month will be better too. The body heals, and the mind helps it to.

  27. Comment by Chad and Charlotte | 09.26.2006 | 11:03 pm

    5 mile hill,
    6.5% Grade,
    20mph headwind,
    Reaching the top…

  28. Comment by Woody13Fox | 09.27.2006 | 1:45 pm

    Spending two hours lovingly tuning and washing your machine, then taking it out for a 30 mile love-fest where it makes absolutely no noise and shifts with the precision of a Swiss timepiece.

  29. Comment by Tim D | 09.27.2006 | 3:07 pm

    Woody,  I don’t know who you are, but would you like to come and live at my house? 

  30. Comment by bradley | 09.27.2006 | 9:11 pm

    How about the gleam of a new chain on a clean drive train?

  31. Comment by Colin | 09.28.2006 | 12:44 pm


  32. Comment by Chelon | 09.28.2006 | 3:44 pm

    What about the few seconds of enjoyment you get after you stand up on the pedals to pull your shorts our of your crack before sitting back down?

  33. Comment by Angie | 12.28.2010 | 12:26 pm

    When the group ride from the bike shop is waiting to turn left onto a busy road and a police officer stops traffic to let us out. Then it’s a chorus of thankyous and the sound of 50 cleats clicking in.


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