Screaming…lots of screaming

21 02 2009

Original Post: Tuesday, August 28, 2007

#1: Frederick Watershed, Fire Pond Loop
falls = 1 (v.g.) stops = 3 (g.) screams = way too many

We arrived at the small parking lot in the watershed before 10am to very few cars and a couple who were about to leave. I felt pretty confident about the short ride we were about to do, as I had done the loop as a hike with the dog. I remembered the route as semi-flat, without a lot of rocks and roots – which are four-letter words to me at this stage in the game. (Okay, they really are four-letter words, but you get my point).

Imagine my surprise when the trail soon turned into a bed of rocks followed by a downhill loaded with, yes, more rocks. This is when the screaming started. Well, maybe I wouldn’t call it screaming as much as high-pitched grunts, followed by lots of “oh-my-God” and “howdopeopledothis?!” Of course, this was accompanied by my husband’s laughter, much further ahead on the trail.

I realized at this point that if I was going to enjoy myself I needed to gain some composure. As goofy as this sounds, I allowed my inner yogini to take over and regulate my breath. My smooth inhaling and exhaling allowed me to get through the uphill climbs and rocky descents that followed. While the hills probably aren’t steep by typical mountain biking standards, they sure felt it to this inexperienced rider. It really is hard to maintain concentration when your eyeballs feel like they’re about to jiggle out of your skull.

As if the hills, rocks, roots and eye jiggling weren’t enough, I still had to remember when and how to shift. It may sound simple to you, but to me…very complicated. I kept shouting, “Thumb is easier or index finger???! How do I make it easier???!” To which my husband would reply, “Don’t you remember?!” Thanks, dear, big help. Needless to say, I committed it to memory within the first 15 minutes.

Another skill that escaped me at first was what I should do with my feet when gliding over rocky areas. Being so consumed with actually looking at all of the pointy rocks below me, and afraid to go even faster over said rocks, I stopped pedaling and started tapping my breaks. I learned quickly, however, that falling presented itself as the only option. After landing on an upright root and having it jam itself into my left upper thigh instead of, ahem, another place not so far away, I asked my laughing husband what I did wrong. “You stopped pedaling!” he offered. Note to self: keep pedaling.

Shifting: check.
Keep pedaling: check.
Fear was next on the list. Somehow I knew that this wasn’t going to be conquered in one ride. So, with a healthy dose of fear in my system, but a better understanding of the mechanics of riding, I finished without any other mishaps. Oh, there was still a lot of scream-grunting and one or two stops for a drink of water (I’ll tackle the drinking-from-Camelbak-while-riding skill at a much later date), but I felt really great after I completed the loop.

I was actually kind of disappointed when I saw the parking lot appear through the trees. A good sign, considering the last time I tried mountain biking I was looking for the finish line a mile into the ride.

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2 06 2009
Summer ‘09 Starts…Now « Bacon Betty

[…] loop we rode was actually the subject of my very first blog post. While there will always remain a good bit of eye-jiggling on the rocky decents of this trail, I am […]

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