So the bad news first: big purple thigh bruises, scraped up forearm, upper arm rash, skinned knee, and long, bloody gash on calf. Also one decapitated reflector, but, hey, it was daytime. Not much of a list of horrors given that it was my first time mountain biking.
At the other end of the spectrum, my bike got dirty. I had enough seeds stuck in my shirt to grow my own field. I burned a million-zillion calories. The vultures I saw weren’t circling me. I had brief conversations with cows and one calf, scared a lizard out of my path, sent small birds fluttering, and watched one little mouse scutter into the leaves by the side of the road. I had the wise guidance and infinite patience of my friend Heidi to keep me from doing anything truly stupid; she also explained to me how to use my gears, which was formerly one of the great mysteries of my universe.
The whole thing was glorious. The sun shone on the hills; the trees shaded the paths; the wind blew. As a kid, I loved the part in Mary Poppins when the children and Mary and Bert jumped into the sidewalk picture. I imagined doing the same thing myself with the picture that hung over the piano, a landscape of golden hills and oaks (hey, it was better than actually paying attention to the practicing I was supposed to be doing…). Wednesday it happened and it was better than I imagined. There were no eucalyptus groves, smelling like dust and childhood, in the picture. No puddles, either. No astonishing grandmother-types blowing past me as I panted to the top of yet another hill, sometimes still pedaling, sometimes pushing the bike.
Heidi rocks. She didn’t even break a sweat and distracted me from the fact that my lungs were burning their way out of my chest with lots of cheerful conversation. I want to be her when I grow up.
I came away already wanting to do it again (next time in long pants and with some bandages in my pack for the inevitable). I have goals: coping with single-track riding without panicking and spilling myself into pokey bushes, making it to the top of more hills, figuring out how to deal with very slippery gravel. Well, and the obvious one: have as much fun next time, too.