New Bike Day 2015 was celebrated in March when I adopted a new Salsa El Mariachi. Single-speed and fully rigid. I immediately pedaled down to Minnehaha Creek to ride the trails and frozen water. It was majestic the way it handled packed snow. I biked through trees, cat tail tunnels and across frozen lakes. Snowy morning commutes unleashed my inner 10-year-old. The snow melted and my rides transitioned to pavement while I waited for the soggy ground to dry. The El Mariachi was my ride when I took a 60-mile S24O in May. Wide tires and handlebars provided a stability I couldn’t acquire in my road bikes, even with two full frame bags. Until now, the one place I never took the El Mar was on a dirt singletrack.
Crazy, right? A 29er mountain bike that never saw dirt singletrack? It handled snowy trails over the winter, but never berms, rock fields and jumps. Then I loaded the bike on my Subaru and drove to Lebanon Hills in Eagan to ride some of the best MTB trails around Minneapolis. I stayed on the green section for my first night and I had a fucking blast. It was as thrilling to take a fast bank as it was soothing to ride between conifers. Why did it take me this long to join a legion of mountain bikers on singletrack, again?
But really, why did it take me six months? Because I’m the one person that didn’t buy a mountain bike to ride it on mountain bike trails. I got this beast of a 29er to shred snowy commutes, enjoy slow-rolling S24Os and pedal wherever I please while feeling like a kid. When I was a sixth grader navigating my way through suburban summers, I had one bike. It was a crappy Schwinn mountain bike that my parents bought for me and I loved it. I rode that thing everywhere. A block away from my parents’ house was 22 acres of trails and oak and apple trees. My friends and I would bike to a tree fort, then to a park for baseball, then over to another friend’s house for Mario Kart on N64. My bike took me to those places. It could handle dirt as it could handle pavement and sprawled lawns. My El Mariachi is an homage to that: the time I first fell in love with biking.
I’ll definitely be back on singletrack. Lebanon Hills is just one network of trails around here and it is too fun to pass up. But in the meantime, you’ll see me biking to dinner, around the lakes, on slow-riding tours and wherever else I please, all while smiling like the luckiest 10-year-old trying to be an adult.