Saturday, February 04, 2006

This Morning I Fell in Love with Biking Again


This morning I got my first taste of mountain biking. Not long after sunrise I made the quick ride through downtown Tucson to the mile-long trail that I had recently read about. The trailhead is only a half-mile or so from downtown.

It's been five months since I moved to Tucson. The hospital that offered me a job after nursing school had a picture of the mountain range north of town on their homepage. I fell in love with that picture. I couldn't wait to come out west after 15 years in Chicago and another 3 in Kansas.

It's been two months or more since my neighbors, Aaron and Erin, loaned me a bike. It's sorta' in exchange for wifi, but they're so nice, I'll bet they would have done it anyway.

I've hike the mountains around Tucson a fair bit--not often enough, but at least once a month. Still, I had never gone trail riding on the mountain bike. It's something I've wanted to try for years.

So, this morning, after giving the kitchen floor its weekly scrubbing and seeing the sun just coming up, I remembered the little trail only a half-mile from downtown. The rest of the housecleaning would have to wait.

The trail was challenging to me, first time out. Cholla and prickly pear cactus flanked the trail. Saguaro when you look up and some small ones along the trail. It took me a while to learn to keep my weight forward when torqueing up inclines and a while longer to figure out that I needed to downshift. It was exhilerating.

Wish I had taken a picture. The trail ended on the roadway to the top of Sentinal Peak. That's the hill with the big "A" just west of downtown, "A" for University of Arizona, our Wildcats. Most people know the hill as A-mountain. The road gives a 360 view of the Tucson valley as it winds around the hill.

I keep saying hill, but it's really a small mountain. That's one of the things I love about the west--their city parks can cover hundreds of acres and include actual mountains. Gotta' love it.

Since the trail ended at a point halfway up A-mountain, I just rode the blacktop the rest of the way up. Wonderful views all the way. Then the tipping point and it was all downhill. Coasting at speed, early morning, the sun, the view--that's when I fell in love with biking, again. Thanks Aaron. Thanks Erin.