Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 2: Bikes and Mud. Lots and Lots of Mud

Today we got up early, relaxed in our room, ate breakfast in the Kingfisher restaurant (skipping the 100-item Sunday Brunch) and headed to Mt. Washington for our mountain biking lesson. First we met up with Max who outfitted us in full body armor, a fashion situation I had not anticipated, then we met Cory and Derek who were our lead-guide and helper-guide, respectively. Cory gave us a briefing on the full-suspension bikes we were riding and we rode them around a paved courtyard for a few minutes getting a feel for the handling and brakes, then we rode down a path to a chair lift which took us up the mountain. There were snow banks all over the ground and everything was muddy. And when I say "muddy," I mean MUDDY. Shoe sucking, thick, quick-sand-like, deep, wet, sloppy, slick, soft, soupy, bogs of mud. Which we were about to ride through. The nearly constant rain the previous day, plus the wet, wet summer they were also having on the island made for ridiculously sloppy conditions on the trail, but there we were, two ladies who are mostly game for anything, suited up and ready to go. And the trail was steep. And when I say "steep," I mean STEEP. Death-defying, gravity-challenging, feel-like-you're-falling-forward, double-black-diamond-seeming, winding, narrow paths which cut through the woods (and snowbanks), over ruts and rocks and wooden bridges, which we rode on through the deep and squishy mud. Our boy-guides were champs, offering tips and encouragement as we careened down the trail -- stand up, keep your cranks level to the ground, keep your butt behind the seat on the super-steep parts, look about 20 feet ahead, don't grab a handful of brakes, YOU'RE DOING GREAT!!!... and down we rode. I fell twice, into the mud, bike on top of me, squashed like a bug by that ridiculously heavy bike which Derek had to lift off me, but since I wasn't traveling at any great speed and ahem, was wearing that full body-armor, I was totally unhurt. The steep parts didn't faze me too much (just a little), it was the mud... have I mentioned the mud? The steep parts were hard, but as soon as I got the hang of looking ahead (after the first fall and upon Jenine's insistent advice), that made it easier to figure out the physics of navigating the steep terrain by just trying to keep my body positioned on the pedals (excuse me, "cranks") in a way that kept me upright while the bike was pitching forward. The key was to focus on balance and not the seemingly perilous obstacles on the track which the bike effortlessly rolled over. I had a hard time with the mud though, and if it was super muddy on a really steep part, I would psych myself out a little and end up walking the bike through the bog. My shoes will never be the same. After the first ride down the hill which took about 45 minutes, I knew I was done so I announced to our little crew that one of my greatest strengths in life is a) being willing to try almost anything, and 2) knowing when to quit. So the boys took Jenine up for one more run down the same trail - stud that she is, and they rode the entire way down without stopping once - while I grabbed a New Yorker from the car and waited for their return. The boys were only concerned that we'd had fun, which we absolutely did, and from the comfort of where I type this several hours after our adventure -- in a cozy bed, in a cozy robe, with a glass of wine on the nightstand, J9 mirroring my position in her bed while we watch real estate shows on HGTV, I definitely hope to try it again. Less mud would be awesome.

This really gives NO indication of just how muddy it was.

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