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Bike Rides 135
The Winter Games Continue

In last month’s column my neighbor Hank and I kicked off the winter mountain biking games with an invented contest of picnic table curling inside the Todd Park pavilion.  It was a competitive match, but in the end it was Hank’s National Anthem (composed by Frank Zappa) that was played at the medal ceremony.

The following weekend I got an opportunity to redeem myself and rejoin the race for cold gold. Bike Rides readers should be aware by now our favorite winter playground is located on the south end of Main Street, in the form of a city made, mountain of snow that we’ve endearingly termed the “Matterhorn.”

It seems in recent years they’ve condensed the sandy heap into a smaller area, which has resulted in a steeper, scarier mass. In fact, on this particular evening it was so intimidating that we only dared approach the mound from the backside, where you sacrifice some firmness for a slighter grade. My trick knee was barking at me and Hank was showing signs of COPD , but alas we summated the horn with bikes in tow.

From the top we surveyed the scene and after careful consideration decided on a path down.  It wouldn’t be a race, too dangerous for that we decided, but more a competition of survival.

I rolled first, leaning my weight way back over the rear tire and gripping the brakes so tightly my hands went numb as I let a little out at a time, just enough momentum to maintain motion without dropping a foot. Hank followed carefully a couple of bike lengths behind.

There were some hairy moments, but as I approached the ground I was beginning to think the event would end in a tie. Then, from the deepest corner of my peripheral vision, I sensed an object advancing on me from the right side. It was… a person!  

Hank, now horseless, was sliding down the hill on his upper back with his feet in the air, almost completely over his head and uttering a painful groan as he passed by. Looking back, there was the Hankster’s lame steed lying folded, halfway up the hill.  This time at the awards ceremony it was going to be Mellencamp performing my national anthem and the medal race was all tied up.

Our next trip to the old horn dog was significantly different. Unlike Sochi, where the “unseasonal” climate occasionally complicated conditions for the winter games, in our case some jerk had loosened the lid on the snow shaker and white stuff spilled everywhere.  Now our venue had too much seasoning, as a massive blizzard had just blasted Austin with the biggest snowfall of the year. Just getting there was an athletic feat of its own and we both deserved a medal for our efforts.

There was no chance of carrying a bicycle to the top of this abominable heap.  We weren’t even sure if we could scale it at all, but it was the closing ceremony and we were determined to get a view from the top.  Hank went up first and finally made it after a hesitant climb.  I soon followed; nearly losing my breath with fear by the time I summated the beast.

We both enjoyed a tentative peak from all sides, standing well over the tree tops and utility poles. In a flat county like Mower, the view was something to behold.

Next we lit the Matterhorn up with fireworks like a mammoth show piece to commemorate the closing of the games, producing a light show that was certainly visible for miles around. Then we declared the 2014 winter mountain biking games officially over.

Now, old man winter, you can relent anytime!

Traffic Tip: Congratulations to Jana Gray, named Herald Publisher this week!

Hear the Bike Rides Radio Show Fridays on KMSK, 91.3 FM at 1:00 pm, or go to dansbikerides.com

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