Spring Sprout Photo Credit: Ellen White

Like too may modern Americans, we spend too much time indoors absorbed in our daily life routines. I find that a few trips into the woods each week, to witness the change of seasons, makes me feel alive, stress-free and complete. It actually has become a ritual that stabilizes the balance of my sprit. My partner on this ritual is a mountain bike. This past week, I was in the woods to witness the arrival of spring.

After spending the last five months encased in insulated and windproof clothing, I was finally stripped of my guard, and had the sensation of the wind and sun on my limbs. Although I was feeling tired when I got to the park, these new sensations seemed to energize me. I was not the only one responding to the weather in this way, as I saw the first butterfly of the season bouncing in front of me down the trail corridor.

First destination was my favorite trail. I love this trail because it challenges my skills and balance, and flows along in spots. I compare it to riding a swing as a child. Sometimes the pump seems like an effort, but then you are dropped into momentary weightlessness, urging you to go “wheeee!” like a five year old.

As a trail designer, I can tell you that undulations in the trail are created to shed water off the trail. Water is a trail’s worst enemy. Water will always take the easiest route down a hillside, or what we call the “fall line”. A well-designed trail should not be aligned in the fall line, but rather across the hillside with a slight out-slope in the tread. Dips or undulations are added to divert any extra water off the trail and you probably have figured out by now, that these dips are really fun to ride on a bike as well.

The natural features along the trail demanded my complete focus and balance. By the time I reached the top of the long climb, I hardly noticed how hard I was breathing, or that I had broken a sweat. I also had no thoughts of any chores, jobs or man-made things that lie ahead or behind me. It was in this peaceful moment that I could look out over the mountains and lakes, and feel very thankful to have the opportunity to be in this place at this time.

On my way back, I was surprised to see a small snake squirm out of my path. Then, I rode past a swamp that was alive with the song of peepers. I thought I was excited to be out of my winter clothes, but the chorus of these frogs made me realize that they were even more excited than me. They were just plain singing silly. It was spring fever for sure.

So there you have it; spring fever is for critters and people alike. There is much to discover right in our own local woods. Some may say that the first day of spring is a day written on a calendar, but to me, the first day of spring is the day the peepers come out to sing. …..Get out and see for yourself!

– Member of Team Campmor mountain bike team
– 2 time mountain bike National Champion
– Trail designer/maintainer Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association (JORBA)