Friday, September 28, 2012


I recently studied a book with a men’s group, “Soul Detox” by Craig Groeschel, that made me want to leave off movie-going for a season. The point of the book was that we often participate in activities that are toxic and some movies are part of the poison. So, even though my profession is all bound up with drama and other forms of storytelling, I decided to fast the cinema and participate in some other kinds of activities that are not as toxic.

Bicycle riding is anything but toxic, even though it may be a dangerous activity for the elderly. But I have a good bicycle, a Mongoose Deception mountain bike, and truly enjoy riding it. So, I have been using it for transportation to the gym some in the mornings, out to the college occasionally on the weekends and around my neighborhood in the afternoons.

Last Friday afternoon, I decided to use the mountain bike as the off-road machine it was designed to be. Millwood State Park has a well-planned and fairly well-maintained mountain bike path that stretches four-and-a-half miles through hardwoods and pines on the northwest side of the lake. It is a well-marked path with mile-markers and labeled stopping places with benches for nature observation. There is a beaver dam stop, an alligator overlook and other interesting nooks along the path.

Before leaving on the ride, I put on my bicycle helmet and bike gloves, checking everything about the Mongoose and looking at the map posted at the entry point of the path. I made sure my water bottle was full and checked to make sure I had my cell phone.

The first interesting feature of the ride was the many roots protruding from the ground. I learned very quickly why my mountain bike has major shock absorbers in the front fork—on that path I needed something to smooth out the very rough terrain. I had to dismount a couple of times and lift the bike across fallen branches. The only wild animal I saw aside from what I took to be mosquitos was a beautiful, well-nourished white-tail, sailing through the hardwoods. I was an unexpected intruder into her isolated domain.

Because of the twists, turns, rapidly-rising hills and gnarled roots, the ride was a slow one that required considerable concentration for safety’s sake. It took me the better part of an hour to weave through that patch of wilderness. I tried to keep both hands on the handlebars, but West Nile fears kept me swatting periodically when there was a rare patch of rootless forest floor. Interestingly, I didn’t get a single mosquito bite. I think those little boogers that were calling me cousin were gnats and not their more sinister sound-alikes at all.

Anyway, the catfish down at the Fishbowl a half-mile from the Park were magnificent. Because of the exertion I had just expended, I went ahead and ordered French fries instead of my standard senior citizen baked potato. It was quite a satisfactory reward for a bumpy ride. Next time I do that trail, it will be in insect-free winter, though.

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