Monday, October 27, 2008
Have you had one of those moments? You approach an obstacle on the trail. You think, “I can ride that.” You roll closer... “yeah, I can ride that.” Then, when you’re upon it, (when, if you analize afterward you know you’d already passed that critical moment when the decision should have been made) the “NO” voice screams from your inner self.
In that moment on the Hurricane Rim trail, when I hesitated and hit the brakes instead of going for it, the bike reared up, tossing me forward. I let go of the bar and landed on my hands and right forearm, the bike tumbled down the sideslope and a scream which I didn’t know I was capable of making left my throat.
I scurried down to fetch my bike, saw cactus thorns embedded in the rear tire, a few scrapes in my saddle. I apologized to my bike as I inspected it, then hauled it back up to the trail to look at the rock, admonishing myself for making such a bad decision. But, fewer than seven miles into what turned into a 25-mile loop, I wasn’t about to give up. I walked a few technical stretches after that, but once we connected to the next section of trail, I was able to reclaim my groove for the day. Mostly.
The bruises appeared quickly on my arm and on my right leg (which I think made contact with the handlebar). But it’s tough to recover that sense of oneness with the bike after having such a disagreement with what it can do. When people say their bike is better than they deserve, what they really mean is that the bike can better handle challenging terrain than they can. While some people have the confidence to believe they can ride just about anything on a trail, many of us are just not all that sure of our handling skills until we’ve been put to the test. Then it’s a matter of incrementally pushing ourselves from one hurdle to the next, seeing just what we can do. Committing to the line.
Then, the vacation’s over and we have to relearn it next time.
And that’s where we are this evening, holed up at the El Rancho in Boulder City, NV. Jon packed the bikes while I read him the headlines from the Anchorage Daily News. By this time tomorrow, we’ll be back in Anchorage. Back in our own home. Remembering trailrides, starry nights, last night’s campfire and miles of trail.