Walking up to the mountain top

Sitting on the top of my new bike, in a full-face helmet, knee pads, and gloves. Staring at the start of a downhill mountain bike trail called E-Ticket. Just watched my boyfriend start riding down the hill. He immediately turned left and was out of my sight. My hands were shaking and my nerves were so far on the edge they might as well have jumped off that mountain. I shook my shoulders, gripped the handle bars, and pushed off.

At the bottom of the mountain. How did I get here? I set my bike down and walk away throwing my hands up saying I’m done! Done I tell you! My mind still hasn’t caught up to what exactly my body just did. I think it’s still at the top of that mountain. I have no worries about it being up there, because in another couple of minutes I will have to walk allllll the way back up what I just flew down and I will be able to find it then. 

My mind starts to recall exactly what I just did. The rocks that bucked up the back tire, the white faced knuckles clenching on the brakes, the bob of my head as I tried to pay attention to the track and look where I was going. All I could see were giant rocks as big around as my head stuck in the earth. It felt like hitting a brick of cement when my back wheel hit it. I only have front suspension after all. Then I hit a patch of really soft dirt that seems to just be sliding out from under me. I remember hoping that the dirt would stay in place just long enough for me to be able to pass that section and not go flying into the giant cactus patch located just outside of the designated trail. My back tire completely slid out from under me, but I was able to save it. Then I came to the sharp turns section where you almost have to turn back the way you come. I make it to the bottom and my mind starts yelling at me, “Excuse me! Just what in the HECK was that?!?!? I KNOW you are not going back up that thing and doing it AGAIN!!”

This realization of what I had just done hits me halfway back up the mountain. I have to stop and take a rest. It was a really steep hill. I get back up to the top and ready myself to do it all over again. I start down the mountain and about 50 feet into the trail, I stop and lay my bike down and start crying. I’m scared and shaking. Then I get back up and start again. I end up crashing into one of the big rocks near the middle of the hill, hitting the soft dirt and going over the side of my bike. I make it to the bottom and take a breather. I am shaken and scared. 

My boyfriend suggests trying the smaller hill on the other side. I go down it the first time and get excited again. This was fun, at my skill level, and still fast enough for me to enjoy. I go up again and my boyfriend tries to help me correct my form. I end up swerving too hard and my front end comes out from under me and I end up flying over the handle bars, sliding on my forearms and chest. I take a couple of minutes to get my tears out and then head up the mountain to do it again. This time I make it down safely and that is the end of my day. I watch my boyfriend struggle up to the top of the mountain two or three more times and then we call it a day.

This has been the toughest mountain I have ever ridden and I know for a fact that my skill level is not up to par, but I have a good time. I enjoyed this challenged and am excited to go back. All I have to say is that a 5-6 minute struggle up a very steep mountain is not very fun, the 2-3 minute flying down the mountain is scary but a blast, and by the end of the day I really want a shower and a place to relax.

About knwhite

I am a 21 year old from San Diego California. I have a lot of ambition and a lot of goals for my life. I am trying to live a positive life and make the most of everything that I have. I am hoping to inspire others to look at the positive side of things in their life.
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1 Response to Walking up to the mountain top

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    I really appreciate your honesty about your feelings when riding downhill. I’ve had similar feelings and experiences in developing my own downhill riding. It is a tricky line riding at the edge of your comfort zone. I have come to decide (at least for myself) that I do not enjoy or desire to ride too far outside my abilities, as this is more likely to lead to injury. Plus, it leads me into spaces of doubt and fear (which makes biking much less enjoyable!). Finding the trails at just the right level is ideal for me. I’m glad you were able to find a trail that was closer to your comfort. Perhaps in the future you will return to these trails and be excited to discover they are less intimidating with more experience and skills built. I’m also impressed you are riding these trails on a hard tail. I learned on a hard tail and was amazed when I got my full-suspension bike how much more I could ride. This is one case where the technology really does make a difference in producing ability. At the same time, learning on a hard tail makes you better at following a good line, a key skill as I’m sure you are learning. I’m also interested in how you discuss a mind-body disconnect in downhilling. This is an intriguing phenomenon.

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