Veneration of Delinquency or a Brief Evening of Speed
Words and photos by Kyle Von Hoetzendorff
The cross bike, as many readers of this site have come to find, is an extremely flexible riding platform. Equip it with 23s and you are off racing crits, go the other way you are blasting trails, they dress up nicely as touring bikes, they are perfect “gravel grinders” –whatever that means, and here in the pacific northwest they are the go to model for a winter training bike, the ample brake clearance allowing full fenders to be easily installed…
What’s more their ability to easily shift between set ups has a positively enlightening effect on their owners. The hardened roadie now sees the need for a mountain bike and the mountain biker can begin to appreciate the value of well-appointed road bike. The cross bike is the cross roads of the bicycle world opening eyes and experiences throughout riderhood.
So it was on an afternoon not too long ago that we set out on our cross bikes to get a little rad and have a ton of fun on the few accessible trails of Portland’s Forest Park. That out of the many hundreds of acres in Forest Park cyclists are required to stick to roads and one ¼ mile section of trail is both a travesty and blight on the reputation of the self proclaimed Bike Capital of America. The history here is a long sordid tale of jealousy and misappropriation, and this is not the place for it. We make due with what we have, bidding our time until both the inevitability of death and the fortune of righteous diplomacy play to our favor.
However limited the trail use there are no limits on having fun. We left Chris King shortly after 5, the whirring of mills and lathes having gone quiet for the evening. We pedaled out through the industrial district of Northwest Portland eventually veering left up Saltzman road. We would reconvene where Saltzman crosses Leif Erckison.
We would have beers and we would tell jokes, we would relieve ourselves while reliving past stories of glorious and shameful exploits both on and off bicycle. These moments of communal discourse are as much a part of riding as turning the pedals and must be taken seriously, given their due allotment of time.
Those who, no matter how strong or well equipped, choose to short change these essential moments of stationary dialectic risk premature riding burnout and increase their chances of being stigmatized with ARS (always riding solo) or developing a bad case of NWTRWM (nobody wants to ride with me). There is so much more to health than just wattage and VO2 max counts. Keep it at level 2 and take a break from time to time. You might find you actually like riding.
We blasted through our beers and then up to the top of firelane five. It was here that I would quickly learn how hard its is to accurately and respectably capture the image of a moving cyclists. Fortunately I was with a group of friends who didn’t have a problem bombing through a gravel turn, down a high speed section, or through a rocky section of trail over and over again.
And so they did, foot out drifting corners or tucking down the long fast straights of the trail over and over again in the hopes that despite the failing light we would be able to capture a few great moments. Laughter and cheers followed quickly behind skids, jumps, near misses, and saved falls. And when we had finished the trail it was off to the nearest watering hole for a few quick whiskeys before riding home. Talk about a case of the Mondays.
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