Short: 14/06/16

Paws vs. Knobs

WORDS & PHOTOS X Jason Fitzgibbon

As a bold and shiny testament to man’s ingenuity, mountain bikes have come quite some way in the forty or so years since their inception. Regardless of what I purchase, and how hard I ride, I can always count on my best friend to kick my ass. 

Armed with a few hundred thousand years of evolutionary ingenuity, and occasionally some boots, Tindle sometimes accompanies me on my regular forays through the local hills. At the foot of our typical climb, I shift slowly and methodically, allowing my clumsy legs to warm, and my shrunken lungs to expand, all the while he orbits impatiently around me, eager to let loose.

Once things point downhill, his purpose becomes evident. Dusty and loose, I always take the berm on the first corner, and Tindle knows it’s his first chance to squeeze by me on the inside. Out of the corner of my eye I watch as he instinctively lowers his center of gravity for the apex, his claws digging through the sliding layers of sclerotized oak leaves and his spine arching as he accelerates. As my knobs break loose and slide into the berm, he lunges ahead; and so I follow right behind, proudly watching him pick the fastest lines, or slow down because I’ve fallen too far behind.

This pattern repeats itself on nearly all of our rides. Tindle so graciously lets me start ahead, then brutally reminds me that paws always beat knobs in the turns. His agility, his instinctive flow, his panting face, and his complete lack of carbon fiber, are always such humbling and gratifying things to observe hauling ass through the woods.

Most importantly, our rides together serve as a regular and often much-needed reminder that all I ever really need is a trail and a good friend to have a killer time.

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