Welcome to the wilds! New Jersey for me was like crossing the border into Tijuana. Sure, the new lifestyle was crazy, but no one would ever admit to living there. When my husband’s job was relocated here in August 2010, we both were frightened. Now we’re learning about life, love, and marriage in this strange new culture. Feel free to tag along for the adventure.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Biking Bruises

This past weekend was jam-packed with adventures and I sat for maybe ten minute trying to solve the conundrum of which to share first. At last I determined to tell the one that left me bruised.

In August, my husband bought me a mountain bike with clips. For all of my readers who have no idea what “clips” mean, it’s a type of pedal where you buy shoes that Velcro to your feet and the shoes clip into the bike. You, supposedly, become a part of the bike when you wear them. But how do you become two-legged again? To unhook, you must turn your ankles outwards, away from the frame.

At first, unclipping is uncomfortable and unnatural. However, more importantly, you often forget when stopping that you need to unclip or you simply fall over. I remember the days when my husband first put the clips on his bike. I would stop. He would stop. He would fall to the ground. It was like watching a cartoon; everything in slow motion. I would howl in laughter. Over the past month, however, karma has nipped me with my own share of standing-still-falls. In the wilds of NJ, there are many hills and I have collided with pavement, grass, and dirt alike. Yet, I never received bruises from it.

I have practiced diligently over the past month, building quads and stamina by biking around our paved community every day. Our neighbors probably believe I am a lunatic, but there is method to my madness. My goal was that I wanted to be on the mountain trails by the time the leaves changed. There are benefits to living in the wilds, and that is one of them.

So on Tuesday, we packed up the bikes for our first afternoon ride. It was beautiful! The leaves had not really changed yet, but the sights were breathtaking. The trees were in shades of green and the trail (supplied to us by jorba.org) lead around a beautiful lake with thousands of lily pads and a bridge to look over them. As we left the site, the sun had started to set over the western mountains and it was a rewarding view. Plus, it was my first mountain-biking excursion and I did not crash once. I only got off my bike for one daunting obstacle.

On Saturday, we endeavored to repeat this adventure with a morning ride. We woke early, but were in no rush to reach the trails. We drove the requisite mile or so to the road, and before we began, our biking ended. My rear de-railer had been bent. Thus, we returned to the car for a little repair. After a half-hour of patience, we were back on the bikes pedaling along the gravel roads. However, after about three miles we came to three people and what can only be described as a pack of dogs. All were well trained, but I found it necessary to de-bike in order to not fall on the beasts. As I started pedaling again, I could not “clip-in” to my bike and soon discovered my clip had lost a screw. My husband furiously biked back the trail to search for it, and luckily we found it and reattached it.

Now, at this point, I thought perhaps we should turn back. We had not arrived at the technical stuff yet, and already we had two near disasters. But, did we stop? Oh no, we did not. We started up the first hill of rocky technicals and I wiped out with a shriek, landing in the underbrush. I have been perfecting my screaming fall, because the first time I wiped out standing still, it sounded like I was dying. I did not want the neighbors to rush outside every time I hit the pavement, or they might as well set up lawn chairs and have a barbecue to watch. Anyways, the real success of that collision was that my shriek sounded fairly nonchalant. Hooray!

I climbed back on the bike with a wary smile. I would not let the hill deter me! I would not decrease my effort. I would increase it! My thought was that fear would hold me back, so I would overcompensate with a better grind up the hill. I clipped into my bike and started hard core biking along the incline. I saw a tree trunk in my path. I watched my husband’s bike hop over it…

I shouted, “You can do it Jess!”

Reality retorted with a sinister laugh, “Oh…ho…ho, no you cannot!”

My handle bars twisted all the way around. I “got air” so to speak flying sideways. I landed palms, right hip, right shoulder, left thigh… into the stones and dirt. I stayed still for a long moment breathing and laughing. It hurt, but the adrenalin had not yet registered the real pain. At this point, we were at the halfway mark on the trail. So what could I possibly do other than walk it off, get back on, and try again.

I reduced the intensity for the rest of the ride and returned home, slightly worse than I left it. My palms still sizzled and my knee had already blackened. By Sunday Morning, I had six golf ball size bruises along my legs as proof of my actions. Call me crazy, but I was proud.

A little biking video for Monday Morning amusement:

P.S. Don't forget the Timid Monster Challenge...it ends October 1st!!!!

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