As a fat-tire biker, I’m used to getting passed by long, lean-legged skinny-tire road riders. Yeah, it pricks my pride a little to be left behind so decisively, even by people obviously more senior than me. It would be nice to be the passer, not the passee, more often. But then I think about the freedom I have on my knobby trail buster and I smile, because I know whatever stretch of rough dirt, woodsy trail, grassy path, chunky curb, rocky road, or gutted lane my heart leads me to I can go with full-torque-press confidence.
An all-terrain-bike convert since their appearance in the early 1980s, I have ridden on the wrong side of the road through England’s Lake Country, over the hot rocky rattlesnake trails of California’s Trinity Alps, up and down curbs with Boston drivers at my heels, through the moist undergrowth of the Redwoods, over the hilly meadows of Maine, beside terrifying 100-mile-an-hour Greek highway drivers at midnight, along old railroad lines in Wisconsin, across the sandy dune paths of the southern Oregon coast, through the dirty snow of Chicago streets, against the bracing wind of the Golden Gate Bridge, and, not least of which, criss-crossing the hilly, muddy trails of Bainbridge Island—no place for sissies—and, knock on wood, have never had a flat.
My most recent odometer, probably about five years old, shows I’ve clocked some 10,000 miles of bike riding lately, the great majority of which has been local, right here on the Island. Cycling on Bainbridge Island is dirty business, especially in the muddy season. The hills are hard, the traffic sometimes too close, and the rain and wind downright harsh at times. I admit that I ride more in summer, but I love the fact that if I want to I can get out in any weather and feel confident my bike will hold me close and sure to the Earth in just about any conditions. Slogging through the muddy trails of Manzanita and boggy grass paths of Meigs, whirring past Gazzam Lake and along the doggy loop of Battle Point Park, and pumping up and flying down the killer hills of Lovgreen, Arrowpoint (aka “Devil’s Dip”), and Baker, I am a steady roller, with the world at my wheels.