So. The invite came in from the boys to go biking. Last fall I was all about running around with the boys. I was at the peak of my biking fitness (a.k.a. when I’m least addicted to peanut butter bars) and willing to chase them through the woods.
Yesterday, however, was a different story. I could smell it in the air – they were all out to kill each other.
I saw the three of them looking each other up and down, weighing the cost of their summer beer. It appeared, if I let my mind go there, that they wanted me along for one reason only: So they could take breaks no one claimed they needed while they waited for me.
I was right. I spent most of the ride chasing them, my lack of miles clocked becoming painfully obvious. I ran all summer but 30 minutes trudging up and down Reynolds Road, turns out, doesn’t do jack for a 90-minute bike ride on the tight, bumpy single track they had unearthed.
Yes, they had a new trail “still under development” to show me. And yes they made it sound delicious and exclusive. And yes I was intrigued. I wanted in.
The trail was half the width of my handlebars and shrouded in saplings and pine boughs nearly all at eye level. At some points I was far enough behind that not only couldn’t I see the boys, for a few fretful moments, I couldn’t see the trail either.
This is when the log jumping started. The first tree across the trail nearly made me stop. But a quick look around and I figured there was no one around and that the fall would be clean, a widening in the trail just enough for a woman on her new bike to lay down in.
To my surprise and statistical upset, I cleared it. Then, a second log appeared in the trail, slightly smaller than the first. SO I braved it. Rather, I marched all over that bad boy. I hooped in joy. Of course, none of the boys witnessed my miracle on wheels.
But the third and final log came near the end when I was weak and scratched and trying, bravely, to pretend that I still liked them all. It was also when one of the boys decided he would fall in line behind me, hang in the back with the log jumper. Imagine my surprise to find that this third log was resistant to my attempts.
It seemed, geometrically, that I had the height and speed to clear it. Both cosine and tangent angles showed it to be true. But a good-sized log only needs an eyewitness to have a little fun.
And so it was that the log calmly grabbed the front tire of my bike and stopped it. In that second it ejected me up off my seat, forward, over the handlebars.
… But just when I thought it was all over, my bike came shooting back under me and proceeded down the trail as if nothing had happened. The cry of fear (disbelief? joy?) sounding from my riding partner behind me proved, however, that plenty had happened.
For starters, I wasn’t sure if I was coming or going. One minute I was eating a log, the next I was pepping along handily at 8 or 9 mph with tree branches slapping my face.
As I carried on, a few other things became clear: My shoes had not unclipped, therefore elongating all the muscles in the front of my ankle (their existence news to me) to a snapping point. It was also then that I realized an adrenaline rush can and will cloud your vision, during which you will hook a tree root with your pedal and get a second taste of death in quick succession. And, finally, I realized the debacle had taken the greatest thing of all: my newly minted log jumping attitude.
It wasn’t long after that that I convinced (begged) these killers to head back, save their damsel in distress and call it a day. And when they did, I was never so thankful to see a smooth dirt road in all my life, to hit a nice cruising speed for the ride home, a little cool down in order.
Note to self: Never will a group of three men concede to a cruising speed. If the trail opens up wider than their handlebars, they will see to it that they down each other as often as possible the entire length.