I know a lovely lady.
She happens to write.
And happens to be such a great friend.
And best of all . . . she loves my desert!
I witnessed this incredible time in her life and asked her for a revisit.
I thought it would be such a great blog post. A great moment to share for those interested in mountain biking, Big-Bend-style!
hen asked in 2014 to help with the Chihuahuan Bike Festival yet again. Instead of responding with a grown up “of course”, I responded with a rather offended, “No, I want to ride, not check people in.” Which was not the wisest thing I ever said, considering I had not ridden in over ten years! Much less through treacherous cactus, gravel and sharp rock covered terrain that not two months before I swore I would never be dumb enough to bike through.
But somehow once I said it? I seemed to not be able to unsay it.
First and foremost in order to mountain bike. One must possess such a contraption. Which I do not. If you will recall my ten years ago statement and my swearing off ever riding this rough country on a bike, you might understand me not having one. So, I borrowed a bike on the day of. We had never met before that day. The bike and I. But by the end of the day. It was my best friend. Well, as soon as I removed the cages of entrapment and received a quick reminder of shifting etc. Hey, it had been awhile.
Knowing I was perhaps a little over my head.
And sinking rapidly.
I chose the shortest trail (11 miles) supposedly mostly on an old road. Smiling, I felt better. I could do this. I had some sense after all, even I could do a stupid road. When I reached the first hill and at the bottom was a gravelly grave of ten different ways to die awaiting me…was the first indication that shortest does not necessarily mean the easiest. Unless it was the easiest way to go out. I should have slammed on my brakes and got off immediately and turned that bike right back around.
I should have.
Any sane person would have.
However, I did not.
COMMITTING OR COMMITTED?
As I was sailing to my death much more quickly than I planned I knew then I had to find a way through this first death trap. My mind quickly went over each path I might go and after careful consideration as the hot winds whipped past me, (a little like Sherlock Homes does) I came to the logical conclusion, that none of them were free of peril. So I decided instead to follow someone who was fearless (young) and who had actually done the trail before (handy). Then I knew the only way I was to survive this really bad idea was to commit. So the closer I came to my death. The faster I pedaled.
Whew! And you know what?
It really does come back to you. “Like riding a bike”, as the saying goes.
IS THAT ELATION OR HORROR I AM FEELING RIGHT NOW?
I am not quite certain which emotion or source of adrenaline carried me over each hill and hopping over ditches and skidding sideways only to right myself yet again. Truly I don’t think it matters. The main thing was it was such a powerful rush. Me and that younger woman in front of me, were conquers of the elements. The desert was not defeating us. I was actually flying. No matter that sometimes it was not in a good way. I learned something that day.
A hundred year old woman was asked once what her secret to a good long life was. She said do something every day that scares you. And she was right you never feel as alive as when you are scared out of your mind.
So, if I knew what I know now about mountain biking in the desert. Would I have done it? Probably not. But then I would not possess one of my favorite moments. And truth be told when you dare to do a challenge you are afraid of, you become a little “Braver”. And that is never a bad thing to be.
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