I Met Mother Earth, Her Name is Sandy
We drove through the gates of our nearest adventure park feeling very smug. One week prior we had arrived with our two bicycles inside our car; like real beginners we were.
This time we were one step up as hubby had purchased a fancy bike rack that attaches to the tow-bar. No more having to take wheels off so the bikes could fit inside the car – no siree: the Hennings had arrived and they looked the part!
Our sixteen-year-old son was no longer too embarrassed to be seen with us, so he tagged along for the ride.
It had been seven days since Gavin and I tackled our first off-road mountain bike route. We finished the 12,4-kilometre trail and spent the next few days waxing lyrical about the adventure and our ability to complete the ride; albeit it an average speed (oh, the irony of the word!) of 12 kilometres per hour. Now we were back, son in tow, to triumph over the trail once more.
This time, however, I was feeling apprehensive about the ride. I felt mentally unprepared; un-psyched. What’s worse than doing a 12,4 kilometre mountain bike trail for the first time? Doing it the second time. You see, now I knew what I was in for. The first time I was blissfully ignorant of the challenges the course would command.
Approximately 4 kilometres in, I was huffing along thinking that this was actually perfect material for my next blog:
Your second MTB trail is as daunting as giving birth to your second child!
Allow me to elaborate. When you have your first child you read all the right books and go to prenatal classes and attend little mommy-to-be groups. You prepare yourself for the arrival of your little babe; blissfully unaware of the actual pain and the reality of getting that little one out there! It doesn’t matter how many people you speak to or how many books you read – nothing can prepare you for the real thing. So when baby number two comes along, you know exactly what to expect because you’ve gone through it before.
With these thoughts making a noise in my head I rode along, quite distracted; wishing I had a voice recorder so I could voice-note my ideas for the blog; really not paying much attention to the route at all.
The people who designed the track were very thoughtful. They built sand embankments on the sharp corners so cyclists don’t have to slow down much; instead, one just goes whizzing around the corners against the embankment. The people who designed the track were very thorough. They designed the route to include open grassland, hills and dales and off course forested areas. What’s a mountain bike trail without trees ‘ey?
Bearing in mind my lack of focus and the fact that I am naturally a rather clumsy soul, I whizzed around one of the aforementioned embankments and entered one of the forested areas.
It wasn’t a big tree. Why it was more of a sapling really. However, it bore some sort of grudge I’m sure. The timber troublemaker leaned in as I drove past and clipped the handlebar of my beautiful bike. One minute I was whizzing through woods, the next I was gliding towards the ground. I remember my face hitting something hard. I didn’t have time to think of any swearwords. When I came to my senses Gavin was bending over me asking what happened.
I was very dizzy and my face really hurt. The fact that I didn’t have any grazes or cuts on my hands proves that my face broke my fall. Ouch. The look on Gav’s face made me want to panic. How bad did I look? I felt something loose on my tongue. I automatically assumed I had broken a tooth. In the most unladylike manner I spat the tooth out only to discover it was a stone. I have never been so happy to spit out a stone.
I used water from my water bottle to rinse the sand out of my mouth and my eyes and then told Gav I felt okay to carry on and complete the rest of the route. Rambo? No. Wonder Woman – I wonder what I was thinking?! My enthusiasm didn’t last long. The wind stung the grazes on my face and I felt very lightheaded. Thank goodness Gavin has a good sense of direction so we could take a short-cut back. The sort-cut was, however, still over one kilometre long.
And why? oh, why? I ask with sand in my eyes, why did the thoughtful(?) and thorough(!) designers of this off-road track leave the steepest, slipperiest climb for the very end? Needless to say, I made it back to the car or I would not be writing this blog.
In conclusion, I have learned some lessons from my fall. May I list them? Sorry for you, I am a list-maker.
1) Never, ever ride without a helmet. If I had not been wearing my helmet I can only imagine what would have happened. As it is I was out of sorts for a week with mild concussion and I still have scabs on my face.
2) Concentrate! I know I’m a woman and multi-tasking is a thing we women do, but writing a blog in your head while thinking about giving birth while riding at a relatively fast pace past a vindictive tree is not clever. When there are wheels involved it is best to focus on just one thing … staying alive. Do you have that Bee Gees song stuck in your head now? You can thank me later.
3) Carry a small first-aid kit. I didn’t even have a tissue with me to dab up the blood; I had to use my T-shirt, Rambo style. Considering that I take a small truckload of medicine and medical supplies with us whenever we go camping, I cannot believe I didn’t think of this one sooner.
4) It’s best not to ride alone. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one.
5) Tree roots are intertwined with shrub roots which are in turn intertwined with grass-roots. Don’t let these foilaged fiends fool you. They talk to one another. They gossip amongst themselves and have long memories. You saw the Ents in The Lord of the Rings. Well, this was a revenge attack.
I remember when I was about ten years old, I rode my bicycle into a tree… oh wait, that sounds familiar …