Scooby-Doo, where are you!? Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of it but if my sister’s bike had a name I would call it Scooby-Doo. The bike disappears from the storage room and where it goes depends on its rider. My sister goes biking with her BFF for about an hour and a half once or twice a week. How much of that time is spent riding verses drinking coffee or tea somewhere I have yet to figure out and is the subject of continuous discussion between her husband and I. Ultimately it’s up to the rider to determine the bike’s purpose. For my sister, it’s a social ride. For me, this bike is a self-powered toy that I like to play with … until I got banned from riding it.
“The adrenaline rush was way too appealing not to have a repeat”
My sister’s GHOST bike isn’t like my modified white Sirrus Specialized hybrid back home where I use it for city commuting, Critical Mass rides, recreational trips to Toronto island and the occasional push to Niagara Falls. Nor is this bike like the customized freight train from Urbane Cyclist that I recently sold (sniff!) whose life’s purpose was to travel extended distances such as from one end of Canada to the other. Although it looks like an entry level model, my sister’s GHOST is a hard tail mountain bike that can hit the trails like the rest of them … until I broke it … or so it’s alleged.
I first had the pleasure of experiencing actual mountain biking when I was in the Swiss Alps during the summer of 2011. The bike I rented was a full suspension bike. And with the Matterhorn in the background I rode it three times down over 1000 metres in elevation into the mountain village of Zermatt. It took over an hour each time where I chose progressively challenging routes. The adrenaline rush was way too appealing not to have a repeat. In one instance I rode in such thick fog in an open area at the top of the mountain that I had to look down for hiking footprints to guide me else fall off the cliff that was ten metres to my right.
I’ve ridden my sister’s GHOST on most of the northwest side of the island in and around the National Park of Mljet. This includes Soline, Pomena, Polace, Tatinicia, Stupa, Babine Kuce, Pristanist Polace, Mali Most, Kritz and Veliko Jezero (Big Lake). The bike is easy to pedal and I appreciate the larger chain ring in the rear for more efficient uphill riding along with the locking front suspension so as not to lose forward energy. Half of my rides had my little 10 year-old nephew trailing behind me riding his small yellow half-busted up BMX. My nephew really enjoyed riding with me even though he often pushed his bike up the long winding hills. A few times he’d go with me without me telling him where we were going. He doesn’t like surprises but what can he do about it <insert evil uncle laugh here>. Though every time he’s happy where he ends up since he’s never been to the places we’ve biked to.
Mljet is a fun place to mountain bike. Summer tourists rent bikes and ride them to the lakes, beaches and other local small villages. It’s a good mode of transportation as long as you can pedal uphill for a couple kilometers. They mostly use the main road and wide pathways though you have to watch out for fast cars or ones coming out from the many sharp turns. So far I have yet to see anyone ride on the hiking trails and for good reason since the place is packed with hikers and tourists. The off-season is the best time to travel if you want to go places you’re not really supposed to go to.
Montokuc is the highest hiking spot in Mljet’s National Park. It’s a 1.5 kilometre trail with an elevation of about 200 metres. There’s a Forest Ranger at the summit on the lookout for bush fires in the hot and dry months. I brought the bike up through the south side of the mountain with the intent on going down the north side. Since there was no one at the top in the winter time there was no one to tell me I can’t ride down the thin hiking trail. I had to walk a few parts at the start of the trail since the jagged rocks, steepness and 180 degree turns were out of my current level of skill and self-assuredness.
I rode the trail down twice. There were enough twists, turns, small drops and obstacles to keep my senses on full alert while riding down at a “fun” speed. The first time was solo to get a feel for it and the second time with my nephew behind me. I’m sure my nephew told his friends about biking down Montokuc with his crazy Canadian uncle though they most likely wouldn’t have believed him.
Fast forward a week and my sister tells me the bike is making a strange sound when she’s riding it, like a clankity-clank or something. I tell her she must be mistaken. The only sound I hear from the bike when I ride it is “weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
I’m banned from my sister’s GHOST, f-o-r-e-v-e-r! The thought of not riding it haunts me every day. Scooby-Doo, where are you!?