It is a fair bet that most all mountain bikers are big liars when it comes to planned ride time and distance. I know I am. When someone asks, "So where are we going?" or "How long do you want to be out?"
The correct answer is, whatever they need to hear to get on the bike and start pedaling.
Three of us made it out to the forest last night. Scotty and Bill on their forest surfing 29'ers (hula hoops) and myself on an actual mountain bike, built as God intended. Out and out we went, a little post hurricane mist falling so fine it felt like snow on my face. Thanks to the 3 inches of rain yesterday, the sandy trail only clutched half-heartedly at my tires, but still enough to feel a tug at every pedal stroke.
Through miles and miles of the forest I hadn't seen before we rode, while families sat down to dinner and kids brushed their teeth to go to bed.
Sweat soggy gloves, a blood-scraped arm, fusty fumes redolent of a landfill rise out of my jersey. The gritty churning of sand in drivetrains sounds like beetles eating the trees at night, patiently grinding away.
We are far beyond the "10 mile loop now". I see why Bill calls it the Twilight Zone. This could go on forever, and it seems to be doing so now. This trail, this pace, this forest, has become timeless.
It's pretty much dark now, and we're still riding. The sounds of distant traffic make me realize how quiet it has been for the last 2 1/2 hours. I know we are about a mile from the parking lot when Bill turns east to take the long way around. 1,2,3 tire to tire we ride. I can't see anything by now anyway, with the splatter on my glasses and the fog.
I just pedal, like it's the only thing I have to do.