It seems there are plenty of things to do prior to my hip surgery; one of these things is mountain biking and why not? I mean I already have about as busted up of a hip as I can have so why not get off the asphalt and onto the dirt trails. I rented from Danny’s Cycle a Marlin 29er made by Trek Bikes who manufacture fantastic mountain bikes. I really need to say, I don’t generally want to gear this blog toward product reviews but I have to at least make a few comments about my experience on the Marlin.
First thing you notice are the massive 29ers (those of you that do not know 29 is the size of the wheels). Immediately the size of the groves and teeth on the tires grab your attention, it is like looking at a monster truck’s tires next to your little 4×4 Jeep. The Rock-Shocks are impressive and could easily be adjusted in two different ways one by locking the hydraulic shocks which stiffens up the ride and you get no shock absorption in the front fork or you can unlock the shocks and fiddle around with the pressure of the hydraulic shock by increasing or decreasing by simply twisting the “resistance knob.” I outfitted the bike with SPD cleats and was ready to roll over whatever Mother Nature could lay before me.
Immediately upon leaving the Graham Hill parking lot with some new friends I was hit head on with a very steep incline, I was in the wrong gear and did not get more than a quarter of the way up the hill before having to unclip to prevent myself from falling over. This did not sit well with me. I got an ego check right there and then, and had to leave what I thought I knew to be bike handling skills back out on the asphalt. The ability to change gears on the fly and stand to pedal uphill or pick up the cadence in order to climb a steep incline just do not carry over to the dirt trails of Graham Hill. As I stumbled my way to the top of the first climb I found myself having to walk till I reached a flat area that I could clip my cleats back in and power on.
I had to learn on the fly and the more I fell over the handlebars, off to the side, or into thorn bushes the faster I learned. Each time I got a little more balance, handling, or strength to overcome a tight pass between trees, over some large rocks, or plunging down a set of sharp hair pin turns. The leaves were in full autumn regalia with fiery reds and yellows that scorched their way into my dreams. The sun beaming through the gaps of trees illuminating the single track sweeping back and forth along the hills, I was overtaken by the moments of natural beauty and then the forces of nature and physics brought me to a sudden stop.
Somehow in the beauty of it all, I lost focus on what lay ahead not sure if I was watching the rider in front of me, or if I all of a sudden I zoned out and became one with nature and the trail but there was a span of time that seems to have slipped my mind. The hills were alive with the sound of us flying up and down rocky passes, over downed trees hitting them like jumps and screaming with delight as we stuck landings or quickly traversed descents that would have previously left us terrified. As I zipped past trees and terrain that in hindsight now make me to hold my breath, slam on the brakes, and just pray that I didn’t do a cartwheel over my handle bars again (IMLP training ride, a story for another time). Just then in that moment I went over a drop that I shouldn’t have, I hit the first landing on the nose of the bike and I flipped it, sure enough I was toppling over the handle bars and landed with the force of what I can only describe as similar to that of what a QB feels as a 300 plus pound line-baker crushes him from the blind side.
As the stars dissipated and the silence of the forest closed in on me I realized I was still in one piece lying on my side with the bad hip that would soon be operated on. I was nervous and let out a big scream of just agony and frustration as my vitals rebooted. Satisfied by status check from my minds command center everything was alright, no broken bones. As I stumbled to my feet my riding buddies pulled up and unclipped to help me up. Hand to god honest I was fine, could not have been happier to have these guys there with me, I felt instantly safe because these guys would do anything for me and help me as necessary, besides I had my RoadID on. I seriously dusted myself off, and got back on the bike, to my mates chagrin and continued down the hill and we regrouped at the bottom. I walked it off a little as we all took in fluids and nutrition but was happy to have a nasty fall like that behind me. What happened there is what happens eventually to everyone who takes the challenge of doing something different and putting themselves outside their comfort zone. They get knocked down, and have to pick themselves back up, get back on the bike and find a way to finish.
That is the mantra of Ironman racing, find a way to the finish line, whether you are 16 hour Ironman or done in 9 hours, everyone has to get back on their feet at some point in their training, life, or racing and find their own way to reach their goals. That is what this blog is about, finding a way in the face of adversity to overcome the impossible in reaching a goal.
With that in mind how are you motivated to pick yourself back up after falling off and get back on that proverbial “horse?”