I’ve got spring legs. That means the bruises, scrapes, and cuts are quickly emerging like the bright green buds on the trees, only more with a purplish hue, like the Red Buds.

My brain sees the line that I want to take through the rock gardens, but then I find myself very surprised when my body isn’t doing its part and ends up over the handlebars. By the end of my Sunday ride my arms hurt from carrying and pushing the bike, rather than riding it. My left calf was smeared with rookie chain stains and my shins were quietly bleeding, trickles of red glistening in the sunlight.

At one point I saw, entirely too late, that I should have jumped the culvert on the high side near the tree roots, rather than allow my front wheel to drop into its depths. At least I had the wherewithal to slow down, allowing me to wrench my shoulder in a quick effort to bail before the inevitable “endo.” This move left me in an abrupt halt onto my side. I shuddered at the thought of lifting the bike once again only for it to bash into my tender shins. Instead, I chose fetal position, hoping the forest fairies would eventually carry me off and use my bike as a peace offering.

When that didn’t happen, I pulled myself up from the ground to continue on. I was going slowly up a hill of rhododendron roots when my front wheel found a large rock, the handlebars turned so quickly that my only realization that something was wrong was the searing pain. The shifter briefly buried itself into the cavity behind my kneecap. The white light of pain was so bright that I had to hang on to the tree until my vision returned. Even then the only reason I returned to pedaling is because I knew that the circulation would help wash away the misery. The fact that there was no blood was very confusing to me. I was certain that the shifter was still lodged  – until of course I had the nerve to look.

It wasn’t until the last mile of trail that my ability to ride a bike somewhat returned, but hell if I was going to climb back up to test that theory.

Ah, yes, spring legs. No matter all of the running to keep the cardio strong throughout the wintry months. That just means I can get into more trouble – further back into the woods. It’s the technical skill – the heady party of the game – that takes more warming up. Thank goodness for muscle memory.