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Whether it was emotional, physical, or hormonal, I knew that being on my mountain bike was going to hurt, and I was right. However, it did not prevent me from having an awesome time, even though in the end I was glad that it was over.

For two days I had been tripping, falling, dropping things, forgetting important matters and hurting myself. But when Sunday came, I knew that it was the day to spend all day riding my beloved.

Just the night before I dropped my Ducati in the parking lot at the Wedge brewery in front of a pack of onlookers noting, until that moment, how ultra cool I was. My glove had dropped. I leaned over to pick it up without dismounting, despite my short legs. The bike fell over in the opposite direction. I dove across to save it, even though it was past that point of return. I found myself lying in the gravel and turned to see gas pumping out of the tank. I struggled to upright it. Suddenly three large men appeared to set it back on it’s wheels. The topple caused the mechanisms on the handlebar to shift, so now turning my handlebars to the left caused my horn to constantly blow. I guess that was just in case not everybody in the frigging bar saw what happened. I just wish I had thought to reveal a bare ass on my way out as well.

Earlier that day I burned my leg when I leaned the hot carburetor box of the tiller against it.

I got up Sunday morning and was disappointed to see a glorious sunny and warm day with crisp breezes. There would be no excuse. I tripped down the stairs to the garage to gather my things as my riding buddy pulled into the drive. Maybe he saw the craziness in my eyes – or the bruises and burns on my legs. Whichever the case, he loaded my bike in my truck, which is a major no-no on any other occasion.

We took off from the Trace Ridge trailhead to meander the lower parts of Mills River and I could not get my wheel up over anything. I racked my shins, bumbled, and stuffed the front wheel into every possible root higher than one centimeter while he tooled ahead on his rigid single speed. SIGH. Although it was less than a minute onto a rocky trail when his rear wheel caught a rock and folded his tire in a way that caused his inner tube to squeeze out of the bead in a comical elephantine sort of way that made me laugh. Within five minutes back on the wheels we realized we would be climbing up a steep rock slide to the road above, allowing me to trip up rocks while bashing my bike into my face, which was over my shoulder.

A shallow creek crossing with smooth rocks caused me to soak my feet up to the shins as soon as I dropped in. At least the cold water was soothing on my damaged legs. I couldn’t even remount the bicycle without first losing the chain and then sliding out of the clips on the first rotation, causing my crotch to slam against the top tube. I explained my dilemma out loud, trying not to cry.

I don’t’ think I’ve ever really been grateful to climb a fire road, but I was. I impressed myself by riding for 20 minutes without incident. The day continued to be beautiful, so I focused on that.

JoJo the riding dog was having a perfect riding day, so for a while I enjoyed watching her jump and run ahead. She even stopped to kill a mole, dropping it onto the trail as a gift for us.

It took a while, but I finally got myself to slow down enough not to hurt myself. It’s that mental adjustment that’s the most difficult when you realize that you can’t go the pace you’re accustomed to going. Climbing Spencer Gap from the back side was a test of will, but at least I got an upper body workout carrying my bike. It all came together when I knew that the bottom of Trace Ridge would be the end of my ride. I held on for dear life on the way down, taking the safe line, rather than the fun one, but it got me back safely.

JoJo and I soaked our tired paws in the creek at the bridge when it was all over, dreaming of snacks and beer, glad that this beautiful ride was over.

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