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Bikin' for Bruises
“Oh man,” my friend moaned. “Look at her bike!” He motioned towards a girl in a bright yellow running shirt, obviously one of the more experienced bikers. She was walking a shiny, expensive blue bike through the parking lot. But the entire left pedal was shattered…completely gone, except for a stub of black metal.
“Geez…are you sure we’re up for this?” I ask. It was our first time mountain biking. We had no idea what we were getting into.
“I dunno, man,” he said. “Let’s try it out. How hard could it be?”
I climbed into the back of his beat up, silver pickup to unload the bikes.
“I think we might need these,” he said, emerging from the truck with our helmets.
“Haha, I hope not.”
After making sure the strap was tight enough, I climbed on my green Trek and set off down the beaten path. The forest rushed past as we bumped along the dirt trail.
For a half-mile, my eyes were set on my friend’s back tire and the occasional rock. Then, the trail got narrower and the turns became sharper. The first hill rose ahead, its top barely visible through the foliage. But after sweaty palms and burning thighs, we finally clambered to the summit.
“You ready for this?” I ask, observing the trail ahead. It was no more than two feet wide and followed a slight curve with rocks, roots, and squirrels all over.
“No turning back now, bro. Ladies first.”
“Ha, funny,” I said sarcastically, “See you at the bottom…if you’re lucky.”
I pushed of the forest floor and started down the slope. The trees raced past as I picked up speed. I felt every rock and root through my bike, through the seat and through the handlebars.
Suddenly, I was jamming the brakes the whole way, doing everything in my power to not wipe out. Standing on the pedals moved my center of balance forward, so every bump threatened to buck me off.
Finally, the end of the hill approached. The ground flattened and I stopped accelerating. I could hear shouts of adrenaline as my friend started the decent.
In the middle of the path, about 20 feet ahead, there was a stone. Three inches in diameter, it was no different than all the others on the way.
I ignored this particular rock, because I figured I could handle it. It was just another bump. But this was a BIG MISTAKE.
I hit the rock, still crouching on the pedals, close to the end of the hill.
And then I went right over the handle bars. The world spun as my bike vanished beneath me. Somehow I ended up clearing the bike and landing on my feet—perfectly fine, but shaken.
My friend cheered. “Hey, you okay?” he asked. “That looked nasty from back here.” He sounded concerned, but I can tell he’s still laughing on the inside.
“Yeah, I’m alright. Let’s do it again.”
Whether on the mountain bike course, in the classroom, or at work, I bring a strong work ethic, adventurousness, and, most importantly, the ability to get back on the bike and keep going.