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Bicycle Bliss

I am becoming reacquainted with my mountain bike.

One of my favorite things about mountain biking is the necessity to be completely 100% focused on what you are doing. If your mind waivers ever so slightly, say from negotiating around a boulder and anticipating the staccato of roots ahead to anything but that boulder and jumble of roots, chances are you will lose your line, hit the boulder or get off balance.

Bike Bliss, 2003, linoleum, stencil, labels. Part One.

I made these cards in 2003, a couple of years after I competed in 24 Hours of Adrenalin, and the year I would compete in the Vermont 50, to celebrate my love/hate relationship with mountain biking. I regularly rode a fabulous loop behind Buxton School in Williamstown, (where I was working and living at the time) as well as some ridiculous trails along the Taconic Range. It was glorious fun. I continued to progress in my technical skills, and loved the intense focus of being on my bicycle in the woods. I rode with a number of different people and groups, some that challenged me beyond belief, others that matched me in stride. I was forced to confront my fear of failure, disappointing others and lack of expertise every single time I rode. But the rewards of riding diminished these fears.

I’m not wholly sure why I stopped riding as intensely–grad school, lack of easy access to trails, bad conditions, who knows. But I did stop riding shortly after the Vermont 50–going out here and there, but nothing like before. And that continued pretty much until this past week, when I went out three times, three times to ride new and old trails, getting that rush of accomplishment when I made it over a tight technical spot, and the bliss of single track downhill. Knowing that with just a little practice I could get close to the level of riding I once enjoyed years ago.

Bike Bliss, 2003, linoleum, stencil, labels. Part Two.

Success in accomplishing a skill, even if that skill is just a relearning of an old one gives me such joy and happiness. Taking on a challenge, however small or big, and having some sort of success with it as well as returning to activities that I have loved in the past are proving to helping me make progress with my restlessness. I can’t wait to get back into the woods again, to feel that accomplishment as well as the love of my body working to propel me along whatever trail I choose to travel.


  1. Erika says:

    You asked if I read … I do and much resonates!

    • Melanie says:

      Erika–I thought of you so much yesterday when we were riding–we rode the Buxton loop and they are doing some logging work up at the top which made it a bit weird, but it was so great and brought back so many wonderful memories of riding, walking and hiking with you. Sending lots of love to you mtbike friend!

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