I Guess I Don’t Know My Own Strength

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Bend, Oregon has some of the nicest mountain biking in the state. With miles upon miles of cross country trails, groomed downhill sections, and terrain parks, it’s any mountain biker’s dream.

However, I am not a mountain biker. Or at least I’m not much of one: I’ve done my fair share of road biking, but my last mountain bike was a yellow Huffy, purchased when I was about six. Before the trip to Bend, my most recent experience with a mountain bike had been catapulting myself over the handlebars of a too-big rental, landing rather awkwardly in a puddle of mud and bloodying both knees. I still had 6 miles to go after that to get to the car. Fun.

Despite that, when my boyfriend suggested biking in Bend– on trails that were significantly gentler, and on a bike that was significantly better fitted than on my first attempt– I wanted to redeem myself. I managed to rent a beauty of a bike, a green and black Ripley Ibis. This thing had me way outclassed: carbon fiber, hydraulic brakes, and top-of-the-line components…I could almost see it sneering at my lack of mountain biking skills. I was determined to prove myself worthy.

Though my unceremonious trip over the handlebars was on my mind, after fifteen minutes on the Riply, I felt good. I was tackling roots and rocks, leaning into banked corners, and even rolling over logs– well, small ones. I had been nervous about going with clipless pedals (for the uninitiated, they clip to your bike shoes so you can use the pedal for all 360°), but they were working perfectly.

As we came to an uphill spur, I confidently shifted into a lower gear, standing up slightly and pumping my legs to get to the top. As I came over the crest, I felt my left shoe pop out of the clipless pedal, which didn’t worry me too much: sometimes if you twist a little or yank too hard on the pedal, you’ll come unclipped. Still looking ahead at the trail and planning to clip my shoe back into the pedal, I heard my boyfriend yell behind me to wait.

I glanced down and was surprised to see that the pedal was still attached to my foot. More than that, the bike’s crank arm was still attached to the pedal, but neither was doing me much good: I had pulled that entire half of the pedaling system off of the bike. I was rolling down the slight incline with my right foot attached to a one-pedaled bike while the other pedal and crank arm stuck out like an extra limb from the bottom of my left shoe.

I let out a little shriek, but then managed to dismount without any real fuss or injury. We stood and contemplated the bike for a minute, marveling that the situation hadn’t ended in tears, then pulled the bereft pedal and crank off of my left shoe and tightened them back onto the bike.

I like to think of it as evening the score with that Ripley: it might have outclassed me in every possible mountain biking category, but after that incident, it owed me. For fifteen more fantastic miles, we got along beautifully.

(photo courtesy of Hyena Reality/freedigitalphotos.net)

Danielle Restuccia About Danielle Restuccia

Danielle Restuccia is a freelance writer in several industries, including education, healthcare, and insurance. She previously taught middle and high school English, and in her free time, she’s an avid runner and triathlete. You can follow her on twitter @DMRestuccia and check out her blog at www.daniellerestuccia.com

Danielle Restuccia About Danielle Restuccia

Danielle Restuccia is a freelance writer in several industries, including education, healthcare, and insurance. She previously taught middle and high school English, and in her free time, she’s an avid runner and triathlete. You can follow her on twitter @DMRestuccia and check out her blog at www.daniellerestuccia.com

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