Getting on my bike is the best way I’ve found to forget about my bum knee.
Cycling doesn’t replace running. I won’t ever love cycling the way I love running. It doesn’t match my personality as well as running does; I’m simply not brave enough to take the risks required to be good in cycling.
That said, I enjoy the speed of cycling in moderation. When I’m flying down a hill on my bike, so fast that tears stream from my eyes, I feel a kind of excitement that running can’t give, the pure excitement of speed that a machine adds to the power of leg muscles and gravity. I have the power of a human being freed from human limitations.
Lately I’ve discovered cycling on the North Shore. It makes my previous regular route, the PoCo trail (which is near my home) seem pretty tame. There is a wonderful 9.5K stretch of paved road in the Seymour demonstration forest that is closed to cars. On weekends especially, this wide stretch of pavement is a Mecca for cyclists of all abilities, from the top competitive types on their expensive road bikes to weekend warriors. The road is hilly and curvy, with markers every kilometre for us obsessive types who want to time our efforts. Just before the 6K marker a trail winds steeply downwards, leading to the Fisherman’s Trail that runs parallel to the Seymour River for about 6K before it exits at the top of Riverside Drive. (There are several other exit routes along the way.) You can ride to the base of Riverside, go west a very short distance along the Seymour Parkway, then turn right to ride up Lillooet Drive to the demonstration forest and the start of the 9.5K route again.
Fisherman’s Trail is a bit of an initiation for me into “real” mountain biking. I don’t like “technical” cycling–I’m a pure speed/endurance demon after all, and I’m not eager to take on a dangerous sport that could lead to further destruction of my already-fragile body. I want to get a good endurance workout rather than experience adrenaline-flooding bursts of terror as I descend steep rocky slopes and negotiate obstacles. Fisherman’s Trail offers me some challenges without being truly dangerous, because it’s basically a flat trail. I haven’t yet graduated to riding the complete steep descent from the paved road to Fisherman’s Trail without getting off my bike.
The trail has some fairly smooth gravel sections (I hope I get to run it some day!) but there are many bumpy, rocky parts and some wicked little ups-and-downs. These challenges force me to be on high alert. I like the way I feel completely alive while I’m riding here. I’m always looking at the trail beneath me, and constantly changing gears, but in the background I’m aware of spectacular glimpses of the river, the view from Twin Bridges with the high canyon walls rising, the rushing sounds of water and the streaks of early-morning sunlight coming through the trees.
I always finish the trail feeling completely exhilarated by these sights and sounds and completely shaken by the bumps.
Now I get to fly on the gradual 3K downhill of Riverside Drive. What goes down must go up, though, and it’s about 5K of grinding uphill to get back to the start at the parking lot. I get to pant a bit and stress my quad muscles to the max. It’s not as good as running fatigue but it will have to do.