Saturday, November 24, 2012
Round Pegs Make Round Holes
Mountain biking, or any worthwhile endeavor that requires self-mastery through consistent effort, sacrifice, and dedication will at some point ask for more than can easily be given. The request usually comes at the point of physical exhaustion, imbalance, or mental fatigue. It never wants anything except absolutely everything you have and whatever is left after that too.
The trail post that marks the beginning of a wicked single track bears a sign with one of the most ominous trail monikers, "Braveheart". Just to begin requires a hard swallow, a gut check, and a sternly worded pep talk. To start is to commit fully, there is no stopping and getting off or quitting once the front wheel rolls over the top ridge of the trail head.
The ground falls away from the bike so steeply that I am completely off my seat with my arms stretched to their limit as I try to counterbalance the quickly descending bike by nearly sitting on my rear wheel. My bike speeds, tumbles, and bucks down the face of this fifty-foot luge. The side of this hill is packed with jagged stones of various sizes and shapes. These misshapen blocks force my direction and at multiple points they actually drop off completely on the downhill side by a foot or more.
Under normal conditions this trail is technically challenging to say the least. Add to that the fact that the Northwest has been saturated with rain for a solid month. This rain turns everything into mush; wet leaves, spongy moss, and gooey forest debris all mix together into this sort of slimy and slippery Vaseline that coats every surface; especially jagged stones of various sizes and shapes.
In situations such as this descent, foot position on the pedal is critically important. But with all the other things I was trying to manage, navigate, and control (like NOT killing myself) it slipped my mind. Mountain biking made me pay for that lack of attention in-full, plus interest. About halfway down the face my front wheel leapt from the top edge of a drop and slammed hard on an unyielding block and my ill-positioned left foot slipped off the pedal. The results can be seen in the picture above. I didn't crash, I just kept going, riding, pedaling and pushing myself up the next hill.