For my writing challenge post this week, I decided to follow a prompt from the WordPress Daily Post blog. This week’s topic was Great Expectations and the following was one of the options.
For those who prefer a bit of wit, give us your best expectation versus reality post for all those times you’ve tried your hardest and failed majestically.
My brother-in-law just bought the above bike for my precious niece who is completely in love with anything pink and princess-y right now. He’s hoping that she’ll actually want to learn to ride because of it. He is a big road and mountain biker who has been patient enough to do a couple of road rides with me. Every so often, he invites me to join him in mountain biking. Each time he asks, I have to laugh. Mountain biking and I do not have the most mutually beneficial relationship.
It’s not that I expected to be terrible at mountain biking. Heck, I grew up in Colorado and first learned to ride in the shadows of the Boulder foothills. When I was younger and mad at my mother, I would pedal furiously up and down our long driveway pretending that I was riding all the way to my Grandmother’s house in Nebraska. I love the mountains too! I would often take off and hike 10 minutes from our house to where the trails up Mt. Sanitas or along the Mesa Trail began. One would think that putting the two together would be an easy combination for me.
The first time we truly went mountain biking as a family was at Vail during a summer weekend away. We rode the gondola up the mountain and rented bikes to ride down. My sister and I relished the excitement of flying down the first half of the mountain. Then my brakes failed.
Fortunately, I hadn’t damaged too much of my body at that point and my sweet mother switched bikes with me so I could continue bombing down the mountain with my father and sister while she walked the broken bike down the hill. By the time she reached the bottom, she was fuming about the incompetence that had nearly cost her her daughter’s life, the danger to me had become far more serious than it originally was of course. My father intervened to spare the poor bike rental people her wrath.
I persisted in my desire to be a mountain biker. While living in Japan during my 20s, my colleagues found a mountain biking trail in the Japanese foothills not too far from our base. Part of the trail involved racing down into a 15-foot dip and up the other side. If you were really good, you’d fly off the lip at the other side. I was just happy to make it up and down without a scratch which I did quite a few times. I took my sister once. She however, was not as intrigued by the thought of flying through the woods as I and was quite angry with me about the episode later.
I returned to the States with renewed confidence and eagerly attempted trail biking again in North Carolina. Despite the fact that the hills were hardly the caliber of the Japanese foothills, much less the Colorado ones, I started cautiously. The trail was pretty easy and after the first hour I was feeling brave enough to attempt a jump…Big mistake.
An unknown someone had dragged reclaimed wood and tin out to the trail and created a few makeshift jumps, big and small. My friends of course chose the largest and steepest. The wood used for the jump had at one time been painted white. It couldn’t have been more than about 2 or 2.5 feet tall, but it was a relatively steep incline to the top. I pedaled furiously along a 7-foot run-up to the jump certain I would be arcing gracefully into the air at the end.When my wheel hit the ramp though, I panicked! Instead of claiming flight, I somehow managed to plant the front tire of my bike directly into the ground just beyond the jump. My body subsequently flipped over the right handlebar and I missed slamming my head into a solidly established pine tree by about 3 inches. My bike landed on top of me, and by the time my friends had confirmed that I was laughing, not crying, wounds on my right elbow, face, and right leg had begun bleeding profusely.
My final (to date) mountain biking experience was less dramatic but nonetheless damaging. I moved from North Carolina to the opposite coast and went biking with a friend on the sandy bluffs north of Monterey, California. Again, since the hills were so much more gentle than those I came from, I was not worried at all. I was a competent biker and never one to back down from a challenge. I don’t think I was prepared for sand
though. The hills were free of vegetation and densely packed clay with looser sand on top. The incline which would begin the loop back to the car was riddled with slender wash-outs. I gathered my courage and decided to try it anyway.
About a quarter of the way down, I could see disaster written in the sand. I got my front tire caught in one washout that abruptly ended about 6 feet in front of me. Descending at 20-30 mph left me powerless to rectify the situation. Sure enough, I was launched over the left handlebars and this time my left knee, leg, and elbow were all bleeding profusely.
I still hope to try mountain biking at some point in the future. Given my history with the sport however, protective equipment might be in order. I refuse to admit defeat though. Some day, I will triumph!