Okay, so mountain biking is not natural to me. It's not the end of the world. No big deal. I bow to you, Sarah! I don't know how you people do this and I am in awe of you. Doing a 1/2 Ironman is way easier than that "focus-sucking-energy-draining-oh-my-gawd-I'm-going-down-and-the-big-sharp-rock-on-the-ground-is-coming-fast-at-me" shit is! And that's exactly what I thought several times yesterday.
It had been sprinkling off and on yesterday morning and the temp was in the 30's, but Chris loaded the mountain bikes up anyway. We were being held accountable by John so the show must go on! On the phone to Chris he said, "I thought you were adventurous people". We are to a certain extent. What the heck? It wasn't like it was pouring rain, right? I put on 2 long sleeve base layers, a long sleeve jersey, tights, bike shorts and grabbed my wind breaker, ear covers, knit $1 pair of gloves and we hit the road. Well, would you look at that? SNOW! The only thing that gave me comfort is that once I heard that it doesn't have to be 32 degrees to snow, the temp can be higher. In the 40's even. So I just try to ignore the "feels like" on the weather report. I used to love cold weather - when I weighed 50 lbs. more. Now it just makes my whole body one big muscle contraction and refuses to relax. Unless you want to count the shivering as a muscle spasm.
I proceeded to call John and give him my latest observed weather update and he laughs at me. He tells me that he is 2 minutes from the gate of Camp Robinson and he will be waiting in his warm truck when we get there. No turning back now! DRAT! I'm a woman of my word and unless I have a really good excuse I don't usually back out. Suddenly I feel like the postal service - wind, nor rain, nor sleet, nor snow...
We pull up and just like he stated, he was in his warm truck and waiting. Chris tells me I can just wait in the truck and he will unload my bike, so I immediately jump out of the truck. No way were these boys going to tough it out more than me, damn it! Chris and John talk while we get ready to go get lost in the woods. I wanted to ask if anyone had a map, but Chris usually does so I didn't ask. When we take off I discover that my $1 pair of knit gloves are exactly worth that. You get what you pay for. I'm no wuss! No siree! I'm hanging with the boys today.
We head into the woods on a fairly sane trail. Well, I may have a very skewed view of sane, but big sharp rocks under my tires doesn't seem like a very calm ride to me. I think part of the reason my fingers were numb is because I had a death grip on the handle bars enough to cut off the circulation. Every time I go out on a mountain bike ride, I want to be at the back and far away from the person in front of me. Never mind that I've only been on about 5 mountain bike rides in my entire life. I just like staying upright with my skin in tact on my body, but mountain biking doesn't lend itself to stability. I can just hear those rocks that probably weigh more than me laughing at the novice. I swear some of them move into the path just because riding a bike on dirt and slick leaves uphill is not quite challenging enough. Then you have tree roots, which I don't mind as much as rocks. They are long and thin and you can just roll right over them pretty easily. It's taking every ounce of concentration that I can muster just to keep it rubber side down. All the while John is just talking away - man can he talk! I'm really starting to feel like I can't walk and chew gum at the same time. I feel every bump and crevice. I can only imagine what this does to a person's spine and neck...well, pretty much their entire body. No wonder Sarah needs 2 hours on "the rack".
I'm now going through periods where my teeth are clenched so tightly it would take the jaws of death to open them if I died on the spot and periods of totally enjoying the ride. Unfortunately there were more moments of teeth clenching. I don't really like to grind my teeth in my sleep. I prefer to do it when I'm totally awake! So we're going along and I come to one of these lovely rock gardens and get a knot in my stomach when I hit the side of one and start going down. I tried to unclip, but I guess I just thought I would wait until I hit the ground. I thought that I would also slam a sharp rock into my shin to really initiate myself into the world of mountain biking. Do you know how many times you can say the F-word in 3-5 seconds? A LOT! If I was going to fall I was going to do it in true mountain biker fashion. Unfortunately, I didn't draw blood, so technically it wasn't FULL mountain biker fashion. Now I'm just pissed off and trying to keep from crying about the throbbing in my shin. I wasn't going to cry in front of the boys!
So I get up and get back on the horse - a little on the shaky side. We start riding again and every pedal stroke feels like Tonya Harding has her thug hitting me in the shin with a metal pipe. I have now decided that these rocks aren't going to get the best of me. Noooooo! I'll show them a thing or two! I'll just get off of my bike and walk over those babies. Take that, you stupid rocks!
I'm starting to get a vibe that we are lost. I'm cold, I'm in pain with my hip and brand new shin bruise, I'm frustrated, I'm cranky, my eyes have been gooping up since the beginning of the ride and I have to piss so bad I think I can taste it. So I tell the guys they can keep riding, just show me how the hell to get out of there and I'll be the one waiting in the warm truck this time. John instructs me that if I just stay on this path off to his right that it should take me straight out to the dirt road we came in on. Chris asks if I want them to come with me to make sure I don't get lost. I thanked him, but if the dirt road was just ahead, I thought I'd be fine. So he asked again to be sure, but I needed to be alone to express myself properly and not let them see me fall apart. So he told me that if I did get lost just turn around and come back to that road because they would be coming back that way. With a kiss I was off. Looky there! A small bed of water. How fabulous! At this point in the ride it might as well have been a rushing river with big currents to pull me under. I get off of my bike and cross it because quite frankly I'm sure I would have fallen in and gotten frostbite. So I see off to my left a trail called "Airport Loop" and over the horizon in front of me I see a fence. I decide to put my bike down and investigate the fence option.
There was a dirt road alright! But should I go left or right? He didn't tell me that. I've got a bad feeling about this, but at least I had my cell phone. I opt to try the trail instead. So I grab my bike and take off - cussing everything in the woods. "F-in trees, f-in rocks, f-in leaves!!!!! It all looks the f-in same!". I've been riding for about 10 minutes and I start to hear voices. I decide to keep riding because if it's Chris and John then they will call. Well how about that? My f-in phone that's in my f-in Camel Back in a f-in ziplock bag is ringing. Of course I totally miss the call. It was John and he's left me a message to call if I'm lost. Pretty sure that he was saying "Um, I told you the wrong way and I know you're lost.". So I call, no answer. I call again and some one's beeping in. I wonder who that is? Hey it's John! He tells me that they are coming for me and that I should just turn around. Okie dokie! I turn my bike around and head back. I see Chris and not John. Well he entered the other end of the trail to come looking for me. I send him a text telling him to meet us at "Two Bridges" trail. I hand my phone to Chris because he has a front pocket. Meanwhile Chris is apologizing to me for letting me ride off and not making sure I was okay. I honestly thought I would be fine and assured him it was my choice and not his fault.
John makes it back to us and they tell me that this is definitely the way out as Chris pulls his map out (told you he would have one) to make sure. Chris says he's going to blaze this trail and I should just stay on it because I wouldn't get lost. He takes off and by this time my head is pretty heavy and I just want to go home. I thought I was going to puke at the thought of taking one more pedal stroke. It starts snowing and raining again at this point. As I'm riding I notice that I can see daylight and a skyline. Then I look at the trail and it curves around and is taking me back into the friggin' woods! You gotta be kidding me! Now I'm just talking to myself in disgust. "Look at you! You're lost again and you're NEVER getting out of here!". "Oh, suck it up sister! You came here on your own free will.". Then it occurred to me that Chris had my phone!!!!!! Then the panic set in. "What if I really am lost? I mean they would send someone out to look for me for sure. But how long will I be out here before they found me? Should I keep riding or should I stay where I am?". We are talking Cybill here! I thought I just need to pee and life would be so much better, but I also don't want to ride home in my pee pants. I really have to go though and get off my bike and throw it on the ground. Earlier in the ride, John had mentioned that if you're ever lost and there's not a soul in sight, pull down your pants and someone will appear out of thin air. And you know what? He was right! There was John looking at me and thinking I was throwing my bike down in disgust. As he started to approach me he realized what I was doing and just said, "See! What did I tell ya?". It seemed like I was squatting for 10 minutes. I did feel much better even in my pee pants. We finally see the edge of the woods - Thank ya Jesus! John informs me that if it's any consolation I was cute as a bug on my mountain bike and I looked like I know what I'm doing. I think he was just trying to make me feel better. This time I gladly let Chris handle the bike loading and get myself into the truck as fast as possible. As we were driving away it starts raining and snowing harder and we decide on grabbing some dinner at Lilly's. Chris told me he loves me and that one of the reasons he married me is because I'm a trooper. He said that a lot of other women would have been doing nothing but bitching the whole time. That's just a waste of energy and solves nothing. It also effects the people around you negatively - what's the sense in that?
I'm not sure about this mountain biking thing. I will get back out there, but I guarantee that I will be armed with a map of my own, a flashlight, extra clothing, more food and if I see one single snowflake or drop of rain - FUGIDABOUDIT!