The Middle-Aged Man and the Bike

The forest is fragrant and still. Dappled with sunlight. Birds revel in the glory of the summer morning with chirping and singing. And with what seems to him like derisive laughter. Unseen they laugh, from high in the stout maples and towering pines.

The trail is steep. Rocky. The rocks are sharp. And hard, very hard. The mud, while not deep, is soft. And muddy.  The roots are everywhere, and made of wood. Gnarled, twisted, protruding, hard wood.

He rides on and on, until he falls off. He remounts, determined. Legs pumping, lungs heaving, heart racing, shins bleeding. He rides on and on, on and on, as the birds chirp and sing. And laugh. Derisively.

Please permit me to interrupt my morning of study with a tongue-in-cheek nod to Hemingway. I haven’t blogged in some months, a fact which I no doubt regret far more than you do. I want to say how much I enjoy living where I do. Within an 8-minute peddle from my house I can be on a winding country road with fat does jumping out of the woods in front of me as I ride.

And we live only a kilometre or so from the South March Highlands Conservation Area, an award-winning space right here in Ottawa that also sports a mountain biking facility operated by the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association.

March-Highlands-Map-894x500This is like a Six Flags for your bike, and the rides even have appealing names like “Rock Hopper”, “North Dogsled”, “Double Down”, “Ribcage”, “Twisted Sisters”, and “Dog’s Breakfast.” And no lines, no admission, no handy paramedics.

Earlier today I took my 20-year-old VeloSport (affectionately disignated, “The Beast”) for a ride on some of these trails, and afterward I thought it prudent to write several memos to myself and make them public for the sake of accountability. I have arranged them in three categories so I can recall them more easily. If you know me, please hold me to them.


  1. Place shirt in laundry.
  2. Realign brakes, which are now seriously caddywampus.
  3. Find out how to spell caddywampus.


  1. En route to the trail, your good friend Preston Martelly passed you in his car and offered to ride with you next time. Do not allow him to wriggle out of this.
  2. Check flyers for good deals on body armour.
  3. While checking, also check for good deals on bandages and other first-aid supplies.
  4. Pack bike tools.
  5. Rear brake is on right.
  6. Walk the Deer Bridge–for now, anyway.
  7. Print route map in colour.
  8. Find out if fishing is permitted in pond. If so, take waders and fly rod.
  9. Do not wear waders while riding bike.
  10. Get to know local helicopter pilot and put number on speed dial.
  11. Pay earnest heed to signs like those below. “Exclamation point” is actually an “i”. It stands for, “idiot” and is printed upside down for a reason.



  1. Place on personal Bucket List: “Complete one circuit of “INTERMEDIATE” trail while staying on both bike and trail for entire ride.”
  2. Do this before attempting “DIFFICULT” trail, at which time entire Bucket List may become suddenly irrelevant.

One thought on “The Middle-Aged Man and the Bike”

  1. Those birds must have gone wild when YOU came by. Just make sure they’re not vultures. Dad

    FOMConsulting Ministries–a joint service of Biblical Ministries Worldwide and Fellowship of Missions

    Henry J. Heijermans, Executive Director

    728 Edgemoor Court

    Lancaster, PA 17601

    717-390-0912 or 717-682-7338

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