The Madness of Mountain Biking
Jason and I went on a terrific bike ride in American Fork Canyon over the holiday weekend. It was beautiful, difficult, and exhilarating. Those descriptors may not seem to fit together well but let me assure you, they do.
I received my first mountain bike as a birthday gift when I turned 16 and ever since then I have been a devoted biker. The intensity and technical difficulty of the trails I ride these days far surpasses what I navigated in my early years. Over time Jason and I have become more accustomed to the precarious nature of this sport and have slowly gravitated toward trickier paths. We now bike almost exclusively on singletrack trails, which are basically hiking trails, rather than on the standard car-friendly paths many ride. We like winding through trees, climbing over boulders, teetering along the edge of drop-offs…you know, all that good stuff.
Mountain biking is not for the faint of heart. When you’re riding on a trail that’s only as wide as your handlebars and tree roots and rocks abound, the potential for mishaps is high. A slight error in judgment or a momentarily lapse in attention can result in a crash. I have been catapulted over my handlebars, flung down mountainsides, and launched into trees. My shins and knees are littered with the scars of past biking incidents. The most painful of these happened a few years ago when I was descending on a gravelly path and lost control of my bike. My bike fell abruptly sideways and I didn’t have time to make a quick exodus from its seat. Since I was moving along at a pretty decent speed when this toppling occurred, my bike continued to move forward, despite the fact that it’s wheels were no longer in contact with the ground, and I was dragged along the surface of the gravel for 10 or 12 feet. Needless to say, the wounds that resulted were rather large and gruesome. Ouch! It makes me cringe just thinking about it! But despite this accident, and all others like it, I love mountain biking and would never give it up.
There’s something intoxicating about speeding through the pines accompanied only by the crinkle of the breeze in the aspens and the steady sound of your tires circling through the dirt. Mountain biking is never boring thanks to the constantly fluctuating terrain you traverse. The stunning scenery and physical and mental demands of this sport make it a nearly irresistible pastime to me. The details of my latest collisions often elicit the “you’re crazy” response from friends and relatives. I just smile and nod. Besides the bruises, they have no idea what they are missing. But that’s alright, that just means more mountain for me.