Those Roots

A lot of my gravel rides lead over one particular section of singletrack. It’s not even singletrack really. It’s just a short hiking trail that runs between an old railbed and an abandoned road. Not more than 100 ft. long, it’s a rocky little climb through the woods.

The hardest part is right at the beginning. A hard left turn off the railbed that goes immediately up. The trail there is paved with roots. When I first began gravel riding I just got off the bike and walked. Then I began gravel-riding with mountain bikers. Those guys simply railed right up that rooty little section.

“Shit,” thought I, “That’s rideable?”

Not long after, I ran into Chris at the transfer station one Saturday afternoon.

“Hey,” I asked, “Do you still mountain bike? I want to get better riding off road.”

He did still mountain bike and he took me out and wow! That was fun.

It wasn’t long before that rooty section hardly seemed like an obstacle.

Then I tore my ACL, lost a year of mountain biking, and watched all my friends get a year better while I regressed.

It’s been nearly a year since getting back on the bike. Last Thursday night, I rode that rooty section again on my gravel bike. The line was obvious. All I did was keep my eyes on it and pedal. Joy built inside me as the tires bounced over the roots and the bike went where my eyes led it. One bounce pointed me off the trail, but I had the momentum to pause, think, “Oh no you don’t!”, realign my gaze, and pedal on. When I cleared the trail and hit the old road I nearly whooped.

About swampyankeecyclist

I'm Andy Engel, just a middle-aged, middle-class guy from Roxbury, Connecticut. I've been married to my best friend since 1988, and we have two grown sons. I like riding bikes, and my biggest accomplishment is the 180K D2R2. I own 5 bikes but my go-to rides are a 2016 GT Grade gravel and commuter bike and a 2016 Specialized 650b hardtail mountain bike. Additionally, I have a 2000-something carbon-fiber Orbea road bike, a 1990-something Specialized Sirrus that's my old dirt and commuter bike and which now serves as a spare and a trainer bike, and a 1985 Ross Mount Hood MTB. All but the 650b have Brooks saddles. I work from home now, but used to commute 32 miles round trip to work by bike year round. I was a carpenter and still love building things, but regular paychecks, insurance, and vacation time lured me into journalism. I've written a couple of books on carpentry, and I've been an editor at Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, and Professional Deck Builder magazines. Currently, I manage construction events at the JLC Live and Remodeling Show trade shows. Additionally, my wife and I run Transylvania Guest House, an Airbnb. Find us on Instagram. Come stay with us and I'll show you some great cycling.
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1 Response to Those Roots

  1. Mark says:

    I know that spot intimately. Coming down is a no brainer, just ride the lightning. Going up, just have to hit the right line and it’s bouncy but doable.

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