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Friday, February 2, 2018

Trek Woman's Mountain Bike Clinic 2018

"There is freedom waiting for you
 on the breezes of the sky.
And you ask, 'What if I fall?'
Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?" 
Erin Hanson

 For numerous reasons, I have been trying new things or variations of old things.  I am exploring myself, my interests, even my friendships, trying to picture how I want to forge my path forward as my life changes yet again. So recently I e-mailed a old friend that I trust who mountain bikes and works at Scheller's Bike Shop about mountain biking and was told of an upcoming woman's clinic sponsored by Trek and the store happening at the Mega Cavern in Louisville.  John Molnar sold my husband my first bike, so perhaps again it is a way my husband has of pointing me in a way I might go.

I must admit, I have always been a bit concerned about mountain biking.  I had a supervisor at one time that would mountain bike, and I lost count of the bone breaks and injuries he had over the years, not just road rash or something small, but significant injuries.  And those of you that know me, know that I loath the thought of another shoulder injury and losing more years of not being able to sleep on my side without pain.  Still, this could happen on a road bike.  Yes, I might fall, but as Ms. Hanson asks, "What if I fly."  I e-mail Diana to see if she is interested in going with me.  She responds that she is in and plans are made.

As the day nears, I find myself surprisingly pumped about it. A grin splits my face as I work on my mountain bike changing pedals, oiling the chain, and making other minor checks and changes.  I think of my first brevets:  the painfully thorough checking of all my bags to try to ensure that I had what I needed.  I must admit, that there is something that I just like about the preparation.  Inevitably, however, despite careful preparation, I think of something that I "might" need, but because of or in spite of my planning I have always somehow managed to get by. And frankly, in this case, having never done it, I am not quite sure what I might need, but I use my imagination.

We arrive at the caverns early because Diana is renting a bike and neither of us wants to drive down and find no bikes available and come home.  After checking in, they tell us we can start riding while we wait for the clinic, and we are some of the very first people in that day.  The air is heavy, but not oppressive as it will become later in the day when activity sails dust into the air.  It is huge in here.  At first I worry about finding my way out, but we both note all the number signs that point the way outwards.

After we ride a bit, we run into Ameila Dauer who is also taking the clinic and is in my group.  It is good to see her.  I don't believe we have ridden together since the Medora Century, and it is good to have a bit of time to catch up.  She tells me that Paul Battle is getting an award for 150,000 club miles at the banquet tonight and I ask her to give him my best.  I have not been to the banquet for a number of years, and I won't go tonight, but I am glad to hear his efforts are being rewarded.

I then find that Sherri Thompson is one of our instructors.  She tells me she had been planning on taking one of the more advanced clinics, but they had not expected such a large crowd and asked her to help and she agreed.  I briefly think how this unselfishness seems to be an integral part of her character.  While I don't know her that well, I am appreciative.  It is interesting to me how many people from different walks of life that I have met through bicycling.  The shared interest bonds us as the game of Bridge bonded my mother with her friends.  (My mother would much rather I played bridge and always hated my cycling).  What makes us pick cycling?  And how many different types of cycling there are to pick from.

We take our class and learn some of the basics.  Eventually we begin to do some basic jumps over a noodle, first lifting our front wheel, then our back wheel, then both.  When the instructor explains the movement involved in lifting the back wheel, it somehow clicks for me.  I never do know how high I am lifting wheels or if I am clearing the noodle completely or knocking it about as some are doing, but I know they are lifting.  The jumping is much easier for me than some of the other moves such as ratcheting.  But now I have something to practice. 

After the class, I meet Diana and we ride a bit more.  It becomes rather obvious to me that she is much more of a natural at this than am I, for I am still stiff and unsure and it translates to my handling. Her quick reflexes (something that will save us from a car accident following the clinic) and lack of tension make her a natural. I fall twice that day, both after the clinic is over.  She does not fall at all. And I know that while I will do this again because it is a blast, I will fall repeatedly before I ever really feel comfortable on paths that twist like snakes and hills you can't pedal up without clipping your pedal on the dirt.  Hopefully, I think, it is like riding with cleats.  You fall down a few times and then something clicks and you remember.  Yes, I might fall, but what if I fly?  A variation on an old theme for me will provide some amusement in my retirement.  And I am glad I came.  Thanks, John.  Thanks, Trek.  Thanks instructors and friends.  It was a great day!

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