“We should go mountain biking!”
These are not words you’re likely to hear me say. My brother, on the other hand, utters all kinds of crazy nonsense, like, “You should try surfing!” or, “Let’s climb Mt Whitney!” The man is a lunatic, but he’s a lunatic with that special knack for making terrible ideas sound an awful lot like the best thing ever.
But I know his tricks. So when my brother suggested I join him for an “easy” mountain biking adventure, I scoffed. “I haven’t been on a bike since high school,” I said.
“Nobody forgets how to ride a bike. There’s a whole expression dedicated to that. C’mon, it’ll be fun, you can ride Dr. Wife’s bike.”
I can’t think of any really good excuses and I have heard many people claim to enjoy the biking of mountains. What the hell, I thought. What’s the worst that could happen? Plus it was the 90’s so you basically had to try mountain biking if you wanted to check “EXTREME” off on your sports list.
Turns out, mountain biking is the worst thing that could happen.
First off, if riding a bike was so easy, I wouldn’t have needed training wheels when I was six. Second, riding my powder blue Schwinn Predator to school was a little different than riding my sister-in-law’s evil, wheeled monstrosity down a narrow, rocky trail at high (okay, moderate) speed.
I knew I was in trouble when I tried to mount the thing in the parking lot and it bucked. It may also have growled. This was a one woman bike, I thought. The sweat on my neck was only partially because central California is just left of hell.
My brother is undeterred by my lack of grace, and off we go. The mantra in my head, to bolster my flagging confidence, is drowned out by my own swearing. The mantra becomes “ohshitohshitohshitohshitohshit…”
That’s when I fall down the mountain. Aaaaand again. Aaaaand one more time. I heard the bike snicker to itself. At least the last time some bushes took some of the edge off the fall.
At some point my brother takes pity on me and allows us to go back. That, or we finish the ride. I can’t actually remember, because I’m pretty sure I had a concussion. I do remember grinding up the (paved?) hill back towards the parking lot, blood pouring down my kneed and puddling in my sock, clothes torn to hell. I’m trailing behind my brother, who’s stopped and talking to a ranger in a pickup. I catch up just in time to hear the guy offer us a ride back and my brother’s chipper response: “Thank, man, but we’re good!”
I fall off my bike again. Just out of spite. Then I kick Whiskey in the shins when he tries to help me up.
It’s a long drive back to San Jose, but not a quiet one. My brother and I are both hysterical people, and never ones to let a little fresh blood get in the way of a joke. So by the time we get back to the house I’m in a good mood again, just relieved it’s over.
Dr. Wife comes home and we regale her with the story. “You rode that bike?” she asks me. I nod. She frowns at my brother. “That bike is too big for me,” she reminds him. Dr. Wife is a good half a foot taller than me.
He looks sheepish. I resist the urge to smash a bottle over his head.
I spend the next day drinking gin while covered in calamine lotion. Because POISON OAK broke my fall.
So the next time someone tells you a thing is as easy as riding a bike, assume they’re trying to kill you. Then skip the thing (and the calamine lotion) and go straight to the gin. You’ll thank me…maybe not the next morning, but in the long run. EXTREME Martinis any one?