My father has a Superman Complex. I have a Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better Complex. Put together, our complexes lead to some interesting feats because we are both hate losing. Last Saturday for instance, he wanted to go mountain biking. B had taken him a couple weeks ago because B’s boy scout troop had gone. Dad loved the challenges on the course and so he wanted me to go and anything he can do, I can do better…
I am no fool, I live in Florida. There are no mountains here. Thus mountain biking must be more like golf course hills or so I had naively thought. Saturday rolls around and Dad is determined to go despite the fact a) it looks like rain and b) I have a cold. But again, anything he can do, I can do better even if I am sick and wet.
We arrive and I instantly know I am out of my league. For one, I was one of three girls in a parking lot full of 50 plus cars. I was underdressed (which is rare for me) but I did not get the memo that I needed the biking shorts and matching high socks. Silly me thinking those Nike shorts that everyone and their mother owns would be good enough!
My other issue was my bike, well my mother’s bike to be exact. It’s lovely, downright pretty with its little basket and bell. And it stuck out like a sore thumb compared to all the sleek bikes at the park with their fancy gear switches and shiny tires. I removed the basket but it still was quite different from the other bikes. But this is Florida so surely the trails can’t be that hard, no mountains here…
Nonetheless, I was determined. Anything he can do, I can do better despite the fact he had a more mountain-y mountain bike. We start off through the woods, and at first it’s not so bad. It’s just dirt paths with the occasional tree root. My bike and I can handle that. SIMPLE. Phew, this won’t be so bad I think. A little tricky but nothing I can’t grit my teeth through.
I should explain something else about my esteemed father, he hates asking for directions. While I also always know where I am going (no directions needed, thank you), I like to look at signs. Turns out my father does not feel the same. He takes a sharp turn to the left and before I can glance at the plethora of signs, off we go on another trail.
Suddenly the path changes, I noticed quickly that I was not in Kansas anymore. There were more twists through paths that were just as narrow as my handle bars. I manage to barely fit through them. The roots grew larger and I realized why roots were so important to trees. They really do take root and grip quite forcefully into the ground. And suddenly, they were exposed all over the place showing their prowess.
The roots weren’t the only problem I was encountering. The shifts in the narrow path was making me the most nervous, until I saw the drops. I did not know there could be cliffs and steep hills in Florida, but apparently there are in Lithia, Florida. Who knew. Drops suddenly started appearing on the trail like spots on Dalmatians. Down I would go barreling through the twisting narrow path. Drops everywhere, 5ft or more at sharp angles and then came the inclines. You had to speed down the drops just to get enough energy to go up. I thought I was going to die on several occasions. At one point, I stopped on the precipice and my legs would not stop shaking. Luckily, my father was in front and could not see. Several times, I almost turned back but I knew I had to press on because anything he can do, I can do better.
Eventually riders start heading down the other direction towards us. They tell us we are going the wrong direction. Well that explains a lot, I think. We turn around and start back. I start to think it could be easier going the correct way but the inclines were now drops and still just as tricky. I trekked through back to the beginning cursing under my breath the entire way. I barely managed the entire ride back without falling (okay maybe I fell once trying to let another rider pass me).
I finally got to glance at my beloved signs, it denoted that trail as a black trail. As in the hardest trail. I wanted to scream. 5 minutes in and I had been forced down the toughest trail, just my luck. I refused to say anything, and my dad stayed mum as well. I could tell the trail frightened him too. But by tacit agreement, we agreed to stick to green trails the rest of the time. They provided more than enough challenges for us.
Two hours later as we made our way back to the car, I felt good. I had conquered my fears. I could say I had done it, it wasn’t pretty and I wasn’t fast but that doesn’t matter. I can now say I went mountain biking and that I went on black trail. Sometimes, the most important thing is just being able to say you accomplished it, your fears and trepidation doesn’t matter in the big scheme. It just matters that you did it and lived to tell the tale. So this was my tale of mountain biking.
*Note: There are no pictures of the black trail because I was too scared to even think about removing my phone to take a picture, but I swear they were scary!