My New Endorphin Religion
Concentrate! This is what I tell myself as a turn, brake, accelerate. Survival over speed matters most in Carolina North Forest. I am back outside pushing my exercise limits on a bicycle I nicknamed, “The Beast.”
It is Sunday morning and I am reaffirming my endorphin religion by mountain biking along twisting trails with two friends – Cory and Dan. We are bouncing over rocks and roots, jumping humps with hoots, and generally loving riding at the edge of our skill.
I am back in my happy place, last visited in October 2019, when a bone spur meant I would never run again. Where I think of nothing but the moment. Where I live for the next rush of energy. Where I try my best not to flail or fall.
The many trails of Chapel Hill are not the apex of mountain biking. For example, there are no mountains here. However, they call it Chapel Hill for a reason. Every ride is 500ft in elevation, which doesn’t sound like much until you realize that’s up and down rutted trails with quick gear changes.
We switch from top gear downhills to low gear uphills, with multiple hairpin turns in both directions, multiple times in a minute. Just look at my Strava maps – bowls of spaghetti compared to my long curvy runs of yesteryear. Twists an turns that remind me of age and pain.
I do feel a new love for life now that I can exercise outside again. Yes, I swim and weight lift, but neither give me freedom of movement like dashing through the forest, trees a blur, deer startled, and heart thumping as I spin across skinny trail bridges.
Now if I could only find a way to bike Frankfurt layovers…