A shiny, almost new Specialized 29er demo mountain bike has been sitting in my basement for the last week, screaming at me to ride it. So today, I complied, foregoing the Wednesday night road hammer fest and instead driving to West Branch State Park for 90 minutes of singletrack goodness.
As I was riding, some hardcore looking guy came screaming down a little hill in the other direction on a dandy looking Santa Cruz. Here's how our conversation went:
Guy: Hey man. You riding hard?
Me: Hey. Not really. I'm just trying out this demo bike and just riding along. You riding hard?
Guy: Yea. I'm looking for someone to ride fast with me today.
Me: Sorry man. I have some fitness, but no skills. I'd just hold you back.
Guy [looking mildly forlorn]: Ok. Have a good one.
Me: You too.
After this exchange, I began riding again and thought about how, years back, the young, fat and out of shape me would have been quite jazzed to take this guy up on his offer to ride "fast." I would have crashed five times trying to keep within sight of this guy, then given up and ridden my own pace, a bloody and embarrassed sorry excuse for a mountain biker.
Now I am just a sorry excuse for a mountain biker, minus the blood and unwarranted confidence of being able to ride "fast" with a guy like that.
But I must say that a 29er allows even people like me to look decent on singletrack.
If you can't beat 'em, just get better gear. Or something like that.