In the past year I’ve taken up downhill skiing and mountain biking. I blame the downhill skiing on this blog being abandoned for the past few months. All those long winter days just perfect for writing and updating photos were spent with dawn wake up calls, layering up, and rolling to the hill hoping to be first in line for the fresh tracks. Occasionally we were.
Considering my genuine lack of athletic ability I became comfortable on downhill skis almost overnight. Somehow all those years of West Virginia cross-country paid off. Y’all know everything in West (by God) Virginia is just a little better than anywhere else.
And then there is the mountain biking. I biked enough last summer to realize that Central Oregon is THE PLACE for an awkward chick to really embrace single track. By this summer I convinced myself that I was good enough to ignore trail descriptions that toss around words like technical, advanced, and lava fields.
I went down hard a few times on the skis. My grape colored skis looked lovely against the bright blue sky as they cartwheeled over my head. Or I would take a tumble and loose the skis in the snow. Better they come off than a broken leg. There was whimpering when Steve encouraged (tricked) me into trying black diamonds. In fact there was an all out yelling match about half way down the mountain. We don’t have those often. He doesn’t like it when I accuse him of being a jock. The season couldn’t have ended better. On my last day, I went up by myself and spent the day skiing off the summit and cruising down a few of my former nemesis runs.
It was hard to put away the skis and get back on the bike. We did it though. And eager to get back to over-nighting in the van we made plans for a short road trip to tackle the McKenzie River Trail. This trail proved to be over my head in any number of ways but the most memorable was the crashes. I had never wrecked my mountain bike before. By days end I had three ‘unintentional dismounts’. The first was as I was biking uphill. Uphill? I tipped over and slide a bit downhill into a decaying log. It rattled me but really wasn’t too bad. This log was decayed enough to be a little cushy. The next incident, I just tipped over into some weeds. Pride injured but nothing else. Finally the day is ending, with riding roads to avoid some of the harder sections, we are getting to enjoy the last few easier miles. Somehow riding down a gentle hill, not going particularly fast, I hit a rock. The only rock around. I feel myself springing off the front of the bike. Now years have passed since I’ve gone off a diving board but that is how it felt. I don’t understand how I turned loose of the handlebars. Somehow though I did. I launched over the front of my bike, sailed through the air, to land several feet off the trail laying on another decaying although much firmer log. I came up cussing, wiped off the face full of dirt, and figured out that nothing was broken. Here I credit my insane dairy habit (strong bones) and enormous quads that took the brunt of the landing.
Steve and I have loads of adventures but more important that any ski run or biking trail is staying safe. I’m the slowest skier on the hill and the most cautious mountain biker in Oregon. The past few months made for some good stories and adventures but the best one is that none of our exploits landed us on the DL. My bike crashes did make for some awesome bruises though.
Separately, I can deal with the deities Speed and Coordination. Being a polite southern gal, I only ask for blessings from one at a time.
“Please a little help, Speed, on this easy section of single track so I can catch back up to Steve” or “Coordination, how about some guidance on this edgy face route?”
Rarely do I invoke a plea to them both. When I do it is tricky. I recall a particular Red River Gorge root that has tripped me twice while trail running. Airborne, I landed with a thud each time, sending up a cloud of dust.
Now though I must find away to gain the blessings of both Speed and Coordination. I’m finally taking on all the winter sports I’ve avoided for so long: snowboarding, telemark and alpine skiing. My cross-country skis are in the corner, patiently waiting for me to bail on the whole project.
This month the focus is snowboarding with the expectation of a long winter to provide plenty of time to get to all three. I’m proud to report that I actually took a snowboarding lesson. Between that and some reading, I understand what I am supposed to do. I am stunned to report progress is happening; last couple times out the basics started to click. However it has become clear that as my abilities and confidence slowly increase the intensity of my falls increases much more dramatically. I won’t attempt an equation but I know there must be one.
So now then, Speed and Coordination, please let’s all get along. My knees are sporting more bruises than I’ve ever got climbing. My wrists don’t even want to support my yoga poses anymore. My backside cannot take another hit, bounce, and flip crash. So come on S & C, let’s do this thing and get me off the easiest run on the mountain! Yeah!
So a couple Fridays ago Steve and I headed out for my first ride of any real length. It was supposed to be close to 20 miles. Started bad right from the start with my chain coming off on a side street as I was getting reacquainted with my gears and shifting. There I was no chain, no speed, clipped in and yelling for an also clipped in K-mann to rescue me. I decided it was time to learn the track stand. Somehow I stayed upright until Steve could get one foot unclipped. Then I sort of tipped over onto him. Whew. That ended well enough.
We are on our way. Everything is going well, my chain does come off AGAIN but no big deal as I smoothly unclip and call for my mechanic. Storms are approaching though. We decide it is best to keep moving steadily toward home. We’re smart like that.
Mile thirteen headed for home, five plus miles to go, I reach the top of a climb, KABOOM! Rear tire and tube blow. Steve gives it a quick look and thinks no way to repair. We have a patch kit but no tube. As we strategize where to leave me while he bikes home for the team car, a serious roadie stops on his bike and tells us it can be repaired. He leaves us with an old race # to boot the tire. Whatever, with no spare tube it ain’t happening. Clouds darken.
Steve takes off for home. I casually start walking my bike. I’m a mile or two from a park and shelter. Local kid’s bike/ski coach comes along in his van; gives me a ride back to town as the skies open. We pass Steve. Coach drops me off near the Mormon church, I hang out on their covered patio, successfully dodging both the storm and missionaries. I give Steve a wave on his way past, he quickly returns with team van and all is good.
In the rest of the story department it took two weeks for my bike store employee husband to show up with a new tire. GASP!