Hitchhiking Mountain Bike Style: Riding With Locals.

Cheri may be on vacation but she never stops writing about her love for cycling!

I love going to the local bike shop when I’m on vacation (with my bike).

I’m here in California and I had a bike issue yesterday. One tire valve was super sticky and I suspected that the other tire needed more Stan’s so I went to a bike shop. I quickly made myself at home in the back (after asking permission) with the mechanics asking questions and snapping pictures. Soon we were talking about our fav taco places and then the best espresso and then the best local craft beer which naturally lead to the best places to ride. Before I knew it I had an invite to ride that night. I gave them my card, took my bike, bought some lube and headed out into the sunlight. Would I go? With strangers? To some wooded area? To some hillside strangler-ish type of place?

You betcha. My husband dropped me off (I felt like I was in junior high) later that day. I waved goodbye with money in my pocket and a smile on my face as if to say “I’ll be fine dad.” We went somewhere (still not sure where) and unloaded the bikes. I looked at the two guys I was riding with and realized that I couldn’t take them in a fight so I might as well hope we were really going riding. We rode our bikes. Through the school yard, back by the drainage ditch, through the houses and onto a trail that was something out of The Secret Garden. Hidden, guarded, woodsy and awesome. Not technical, not tricky just nice. And the sun was setting so the light was like that light in the bike magazines where they catch the riders at just the right time; the stunningly gorgeous light time.

So, we made it through and up and over and down. And not once did I worry that I had made the wrong choice. I asked my new guide if lots of girls go in the back of the shop to talk while their bikes are getting the once over. His answer was greased with a snort. “No.” I know that not everyone is comfortable in the bike shop. I know less than people think I do. I just act like I belong and I expect people to take me seriously. To treat me well. I said to my husband “This is like my favorite adventure. Riding with strangers from the bike shop. If you can’t trust a guy who works on your bike who can you trust?”

Locals know where to ride. How long it will take, where to meet and where to end. Try it some time. You just might make a friend and ride some new dirt. And at the end of the day isn’t that what it’s all about?

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