First off-road experience

All this talk about MUNI has gotten me to try some offroad riding myself. I
needed to rotate my tire anyway, so instead I mounted a knobby tire on my
24-inch Schwinn, and headed off to try.

For the ride I packed a pump to adjust the tire pressure for the terrain if
required, a couple of wrenches for seat adjustments, a phone in case I broke
down, and a couple of pints of water. I’ve seen on this list MANY times that
having fluid on hand is very important; it’s true. My target was a convenient
stretch of the towpath of the Delaware and Raritan Canal.

The towpath runs about 36 miles from New Brunswick (New Jersey) to Trenton, with
a feeder going up to Frenchtown. Check the web for more info. Being a State Park
for 50 feet on either side for the entire length, it’s popular with walkers,
joggers, two-wheelers, etc.

The section I chose, about 4.5 miles from Blackwells Mills to the Griggstown
lock, is flat, mildly rutted gravel with some fist-sized rocks. We’ve had lots
of rain recently so there was some mud. And tree roots. Lots of tree roots.

I’ve been riding since the summer of '94. I don’t actually “practice” toward any
goal, but just go out and hack at it when the urge comes. Sometimes I ride every
day, and sometimes (like in the dead of winter, when I hibernate) not for months
at a time. It took about 45 minutes to cover the distance each way with numerous
dismounts but no out-of-control spills. I encountered lots of people. Of
everyone I saw, only the serious mountain bikers (“serious” meaning tricked out
expensive looking bikes, dressed in full garb) smiled, waved, and in one case
rode with me and chatted for a few minutes. The rest - well, what can you expect
the average person to say to a sweating and grunting bald-headed crazy flailing
through the woods on one wheel?

Overall, I had a great time! I guess I’ll keep the knobby on for a while. My
opinion of my seat, the stock Schwinn model, has changed for the worse. Like I
said earlier, I’ve been able to ride it for hours with no trouble. But the bumpy
stuff under that seat has given me a decided pain in the ass! Maybe a gel cover
and bicycle shorts would help. I never paid a lot of attention to the seat
discussions before, I guess it’s time to read the archived list stuff.
Suggestions welcome.

Rick Plavnicky from my box to yours