Posted by: wheelywonka | July 20, 2010

Man vs. Stump

The theme of this blog is keeping it wheel, and as such, we will focus on all things bike related.   I’ll spend the bulk of my time writing about my training leading up to the Bike MS:  2010 Valero Alamo Ride to the River, but I promise to take the occasional  foray into subjects such as:

  • Downtown cruiser biking during the San Antonio First Friday
  • What’s up at the Tour de France?  Fights?  Headbutting during sprints?  Alberto not waiting for Andy when he dropped his chain????   This is turning into one of best Tours in recent memory…
  • The story of Fat Tire beer, and why it matters to anyone who loves bikes
  • Why Weird Al Yankovich deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • And, finally, my adventures as a neophyte mountain biker blazing down the trails of all the new single track the city of San Antonio is laying down  

…We’ll start with a tale about mountain biking.   A few years ago I was given a gift certificate to Bike World for raising money for a Tour de Cure event.  I used it to buy a Trek 4300 hardtail – a pretty basic, entry-level mountain bike.   It sat in the garage for a few years, while I was spending my time riding my Cad 9 in road cycling events all around the country.   Well, recently San Antonio has experienced an amazing boom in off-road cycling, with the opening of the Government Canyon State Natural Area, along with the new trails they are putting in the creek beds around town that make up the new linear park system.    I live in the North Central part of town, which means I’m close to the granddaddy of all the San Antonio mountain biking destinations, McAllister Park.  I’m also within riding distance of Walker Ranch Park (small, but good for a quick fix during the week), and the new Phil Harberger Park and the Salado Creek Greenway (North).  Yes, it’s a phat time to ride a fat tire in SA.

In my brief career as an off-roader, I’ve learned a few things.  While road cyclists like to boast how fast and far they ride, mountain bikers like to show you their scars.  This is not a sport for the timid.  You have to focus completely on the surface as you ride – any lapse in concentration and you’ll hit a loose rock or tree stump that can send you flying.  And, since we live in South Texas, you may end up flying right into a cactus plant.   The shade created by the trees that line the trails make discerning obstacles a constant challenge.  And, with all the rain we’ve had recently, the vegetation is thick along the trails, so sometimes you may turn the corner on some tight single track and go wheel to wheel with another rider going in the opposite direction from you.   This is a whole ‘nother set of problems than pacelining with the gang on some Hill Country rollers….

Last Tuesday I was out at McAllister with some friends from work.  I had done a yoga class and run a mile earlier during the day, so I was a little tired, but didn’t want to miss out on the ride.  The first 30 minutes were fast paced, with one of the guys leading us down yet another set of trails in the park I had never seen before (this park is huge!)   As I began to warm up, I started going faster and faster – 18 mph, 20 mph, 22 mph – depending on the surface.   (Long ago, I learned one of the zenlike paradoxes of mountain biking – the faster you pedal, the better the bike handles the rough terrain.)     My heartbeat began to accelerate as yet another song from my classic rock playlist kicked in on the earbuds… 

Life was perfect.  Until I hit the stump.

Well, rocks will move when you hit them.  They may cause you to lose your balance momentarily, but you can regain that.  The stump on the other hand is merciless.  You hit a stump at a high rate of speed at the wrong angle and your bike will stop moving.  Unfortunately, momentum will usually keep your body moving in a forward direction.   When I hit this stump, my faithful Trek 4300 hit the wall and I went airborne.   I landed eyeball to eyeball with a cactus plant, within inches of getting a full body piercing that would have turned me into a B movie star for life.     My first reaction was, “Damn that hurt!”   My second reaction was, “I better roll out-of-the-way before someone runs me over!”  I immediately rolled to the right, just in time to see one of my buddies roar past me on the trail on his Rockhopper.    Getting run over by one of your co-workers – not priceless!

 Amazingly, the body heals, even at my advanced age.  I’ve got some trail rash on my leg, my shoulder feels a little gimpy, I got a nasty bruise on my stomach, and my knuckles are a little scabbed up – but other than that, I’m fully functional.  Good enough that I was able to ride a liesurely 25 on the East side with the Bike MS Club 100 on Saturday (see previous blog).  

See ya’ on the road – and the trail!



  1. […] last blog was titled “Man vs. Stump”, and it chronicled my encounter with a stump a McAllister […]

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