I arrived at the mountain bike trailhead well before Sage, which gave me enough time to scope out the other riders. I immediately came to the conclusion that I was either ill-prepared or these people were batshit crazy. Riders had bikes with shock absorbers where my bike didn’t even have a metal bar. Everyone seemed to be wearing a skin-tight, neoprene suit better suited to scuba diving or perverse sex acts. The men had thighs like tree trunks, the women had thighs like burly men. Adrenaline filled the air like a recently detonated bottle of Axe body spray. I badly wanted to vomit or masturbate, possibly both at the same time, and I had yet to even removed my bike from the car.
My bike (if you can call it that, since it prefers to go by “The Beastinator”) simply did not hold a candle to these, let’s call them real mountain bikes. My bike is a terrifically beat-up five-year-old Giant, only until recently without a back wheel or gear set. For my birthday this past year, my father graciously bestowed upon the bike not only a new tire, but another new tire, as well as a crank set and a single (but very nice) gear. Those bike part terms are probably inaccurate – suffice it to say, the bike works, has one speed, bald, road-racing tires, and super loose shock absorbers. The latter came in handy once on the trail. The rest of that stuff, not so much.
It turns out there’s more to mountain biking than riding along flat, paved paths called sidewalks. Sometimes there’s a forest. Sometimes the trail goes through the forest. Sometimes the trail is very thin, winding between trees and stumps and boulders, often at steep downhill grade or ridiculous uphill incline. I should say, most of the time it’s like that. Well, I should say really say that most of the time it’s like having a Abyssinian jam your head in a plastic bag and then punch you in the nuts while the red-headed bully from A Christmas Story gives you indian burns.
Yeah, just like that.
At one point towards the end of the ten-mile trail, I think we stopped for a moment to take a breather. I say “I think” because after about mile five I blacked out. No, really, it was weird. I just cruised, man, fucking cruised around sticks and stones that wanted to break my bones, wanted real bad to pulverize that shit and make bread out of it, but I was just cruising. I think I tried to explain this feeling to Sage, but instead I cried out between ragged breaths, “KILL ME NOW EVERY MOMENT I LIVE IS PURE AGONY.”
Sage’s friend repeatedly remarked upon how “tough” I was, single-speeding through the backcountry with bald tires and a half-busted frame. What can I say: I pushed it to the limit. Sometimes I even pushed it right past the limit, actually; I pushed until I was right at the edge of hurling myself off some jagged cliff, body cart-wheeling ragdoll-style into a dark gully, with my equally gymnastic bike following along like a bouncing betty from the World War II.
And yet, somehow, I made it through the ordeal alive. I drank approximately fifteen gallons of lukewarm water, drove home, napped by the pool, and generally felt like a relaxed version of the Terminator. If Sage invites me out to mountain bike again, there’s a good chance I’ll be back.