Mountain biking: a survival tale
Crested Butte is the self-proclaimed mountain biking capital of the world, or the birthplace of mountain biking, or something equally intimidating.It does, at any rate, lay claim to the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame. Needless to say, my induction papers probably aren’t in the mail. In fact, I no more belong on a mountain bike in the environs of Crested Butte than I do at the Tour de France.My weekend trip to the Butte, in the company of friends who were hell-bent on biking, had all the makings of humiliation, if not serious injury. Fortunately, I escaped mostly unscathed, but for a bruised ego.I took the Butte’s kick-ass trails personally after the only one I rode kicked mine.I wasn’t 15 feet from the trailhead before the plunging singletrack bent left, while I wobbled a somewhat straighter course. Sensing disaster, I managed to click out of my pedals before a header over the handlebars sent me tumbling into the lush vegetation of the adjacent ravine. Some of the region’s legendary wildflowers took a beating. They shouldn’t plant those stupid things so close to the trail.I crawled back into the daylight while several companions, newly suspicious of my ability to steer, let alone ride, waited for a glimpse of carnage. All they caught instead was an earful of expletives. I was pretty sure somebody had described the trail, Upper-Upper, as a moderate route, ideally suited to a novice/mere mortal.”What’s wrong?” my waiting significant other asked timidly from a spot farther up the trail, glancing at my wounded knee.”Well, I don’t mountain bike for one thing,” I snapped between gasps as I labored past.”I love you.””Yeah, whatever.”I hadn’t been on my mountain bike once all season and it showed – barely. I was riding about as well as I ever have. It was the same sport I remembered – a lot like hiking, except you push a bike along with you. No wonder it’s considered good exercise.The only thing that could make it more fun is maybe someone firing a shotgun at you as you ride.Before the day was over, one in our party had bounced her now-dented helmet off a tree trunk, while another took on a tree with her forearm. Yet another busted one of the bar-ends off her handlebars when she stabbed herself in the abdomen with it in an inadvertent hara-kiri maneuver.Feeling lucky to be alive, I passed up the chance to accompany others on some of the Butte’s other fabled rides – Teocalli Ridge (an extended uphill grind that no one actually reported enjoying) and 401 (a classic Butte singletrack that won raves despite flesh-eating flies).I took a nine-mile hike to a lake and back, during which I managed to remain upright and did not, even once, see my life flash before my eyes. Call me crazy, but I prefer it that way.Janet Urquhart may give up mountain biking in favor of juggling butcher knives. Her e-mail address is email@example.com
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