29 October 2008

So, I went mountain biking after work yesterday out at Lake Overstreet trails. I haven't been in a while, so I only did the short multi-use loop and part of the mountain bike trail. I'm not what you would call an experienced mountain biker. Neither would you use words like skilled or good or proficient. Fairly unlikely to actually crash? That's more in the ballpark.

I tend to ride on trails like those at Lake Overstreet that are wide and not that challenging. I mean they are not challenging in terms of having like jumps and stuff, because that hill coming up from the bottom loop to the top is plenty challenging for me. That shit is steep, ya'll. Anyway, “technical trails” is I believe the cool mountain biker term for the ones with all the roots and jumps and tight turns and crazy steep drops.

Here's the thing about those trails. I'm not opposed to them on principal. It’s just that I might kill myself, were I to attempt to ride them. I lack the requisite skills. And the problem is that I don't know how you actually get those skills. First off , do you really improve at riding a bike? I mean, it's riding a bike. People say, "it's like riding a bike" for a reason. It’s supposed to be simple, right?

I know that the correct answer on how to get better is to practice, but I’m not sure how that would work in this case. It's like skateboarding. I never understood how people get good enough to do all those flips and ollies and fakie nosegrinds or whatever the kids are calling it these days. Again, I know, practice. You do the tricks over and over again and fall and screw up until you finally don't fall and screw up anymore. I don't think that approach is going to work for my problem, though. I mean, do you just ride down the hill and fly over the handlebars or a crash into a tree until that doesn't happen anymore? Sounds painful. And dangerous. And, I’m too old for that shit.

I’ve checked out some of the other trails around town. A lot of them are mixed use and have some easy parts and some technical parts. That’s fine, I just have to go slow or dismount when I get to something I can’t handle. Which is fine, if no one is around. But often there are other people there who actually know what they are doing and seem annoyed by my slow, unsteady ass. I’m sure that’s just me projecting and that they are perfectly nice, but I am in their way and I feel bad slowing them up.

I would like to get better. It's not like I'm an adrenaline junkie or anything, but I do enjoy going fast. I love roller coasters and the spinny throw-up rides at the amusement park. It's just that on a bike I feel completely out of control. Probably due me being in charge as opposed to the safety of being on a track like a roller coaster.

I think what I need is some sort of class involving safety gear and a professional. Like when little kids take gymnastics class. They start with low-to-the-ground equipment, lots of padding, and spotters to catch them when they fall. I need that, but a mountain bike version for unskilled 30- and 40- somethings.

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