Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Singletrack: friends, fear and faith

Singletrack as defined by wikipedia is a narrow mountain biking trail that is approximately the width of the bike. It contrasts with double track or fire road which is wide enough for four-wheeled off-road vehicles. In addition it is frequently smooth and flowing, but it may also exhibit technical rocky sections and may be criss-crossed with tree roots. Single track riding can be quite challenging from a technical standpoint.
In other words, they tried to kill me.  Okay, maybe I'm being melodramatic.
The longer I live the more I realize it's never too late to learn something new.  While one school of thought may be that we are only young once, (ie. we are carefree as children, do fun and adventurous, maybe even stupid things as adolescents/teens, then we grow older, wiser, settle down, have families, slow down, get old, melt into the couch and become a bag of aching bones that groans while the youth of the world do what we once did and lament our misspent younger days), I'm proof that age really is a state of mind and conformity isn't for everyone.
The beautiful women above have recently introduced me to mountain biking and I'm ever grateful.  Not just for their generosity in showing me the ropes, but for being patient, encouraging and believing in me.  This simple thing is a huge gift once recognized. As they believe in me, I begin to believe in myself and realize what I've been missing and what I'm capable of.
I got over my aversion to wearing a bike helmet (so I don't die!) that exaggerates my already extra large head thereby making it a super bubble head.  It was time to have some fun, big head, tight pants and scrawny muscles be damned, I was gonna do this thing.
The pictures don't do these hills justice, especially when perched at the top, peering over handlebars, nevermind the roots you can't see.  She is fearless, confident, poised....
...I, on the other hand am hanging on for dear life and cussing uncontrollably...look closely at my mouth.
They popped right up on the other side....
...while I crashed into my handlebars two-thirds of the way up these steep climbs after flying right off my pedals.  I'm on the hunt for shoes, clipless pedals....
It literally took me three tries on two separate steep drops to psych myself up to careen down the hill and pray I'd pop up.  I had to breathe and give myself some serious pep talks before I could do it.  I summoned my meditative state of mind, I told myself to trust the bike, that if I just hung on it would take me through to the other side, I told myself I could do it and then I closed my eyes and went for it.
It was a good thing.  Even though I crashed and my feet flew off the pedals and I smashed into the handlebars and Ponytail had to catch me so I didn't tip over backward and fly down the hill.  Twice.  On this singletrack I learned how to negotiate roots as tangled as my daughters unbrushed hair, whoop-de-dos that felt like mini roller coasters and quick turns, climbs and logs that I once told myself I couldn't traverse.  Funny what the mind will do if you let it.
And had I known at the beginning of it all that Maureen (Rocket), our fearless leader is a former adventure racer extraordinaire and co-author of a book on the subject who trained for ultra-marathons I would have been terrified to try any of this.  In fact, I'd better not think about it too much or I might lose my nerve to go again!

1 comment:

Pam said...

Simply put, you rock. Once I hit my 40's I became so afraid of hurting myself. I really need to get over that.