As I rolled like a tumbleweed down the rock-studded ravine, I was not thinking about how I would explain my scar, or about telling everyone of the amazing mountain biking wipeout I had been in, or about how brave I was to have survived such a crazy accident. I wasn’t thinking at all, really. I was just doing my best not to face-plant into a Saguaro cactus.
When I was little, my family and I lived in Phoenix Arizona, which is the dead, hot center of the Sonoran Desert. There are two things you need to know about the desert: it is very dangerous, and it is very fun. In Phoenix, Mother Nature is not your friend, She is out to get you. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could be attacked from anything in between coyotes to wild Javelina pigs to cactus. Yes, you can be attacked by a cactus. We call it “Teddy Bear” cactus, but it is anything but soft and snuggly. When you walk by, pieces of it can literally “jump” off and hit you.
But despite all these potential dangers, if you know where and when to go, you can have a blast outside. One morning, I went out with my mother and my dog to do one of my favorite things: mountain biking. Into the desert we rode, side by side, with my labrador trailing behind. The wind whisked by us, blowing our hair back and cooling our faces. On our left, the desert was a blur going by. On our right, the rocky trail dropped down into a steep-sided ravine. Down its slope, it was dotted with sharp rocks of all sizes, thorny weeds, and small cacti. It reminded me that mountain biking was as dangerous as it is fun. I’ve gotten my fill of spills, but none of them have left much of a scar. I had always hoped that the next time I got in an accident, it would give me a really cool scar that I could show my friends and brag about. Then I would appear brave and tough. Sure, it hurt, but it’s always better to have a badge of honor to show for it.
We began to slow down because the trail came to dead end. At the end, a patch of dusty green, dehydrated trees stood between us and some suburban houses. We hopped safely off our bikes to take a breath and drink some water. As the cold and refreshing liquid ran down my throat, I saw two very large dogs coming towards us. I noticed that one was an older dog, a golden retriever, and the other was a spry and excitable labrador, but they were both very large, maybe even bigger than my dog, who is quite big for a labrador. They weren’t aggressive towards us, but they began to jump about and cause a lot of trouble. I looked around and assumed they belonged to someone in the neighborhood, but their owner was nowhere in sight.
It all happened so fast I didn’t have any time to react. The larger jumpy dog bumped his compatriot in the side. It lost its balance, wobbled, and bumped against my dog. Like dominos, they fell, and the final domino was me. My dog was jostled into me, and being a very small child, for a moment, I stood, teetering like a top, until my balance gave way to gravity’s pull, and I fell. Down, down, down, to the right of us, into the steep ravine.
I blinked, and it was over. I sat up slowly with a groan. I had managed to dodge all of the biggest rocks and cacti. But my knee didn’t do so well. It had scraped against a very sharp rock on the way down and I had a sizeable gash. I looked down and saw the blood trickling down my leg. My whole body was sore, beaten, and bruised. But I stood up, tears welling up in my eyes, and with my mother’s help, made my way back up the ravine. I wanted to stop and sit. Heck, I wanted to lie down and never move again as long as I lived. It was one of the worst tumbles I’ve ever gotten into. The pain was worse than I could have ever imagined. But I knew I had to tough it out. We had ridden our bikes here, so we had to walk all the way home. When we got home, I had to wait for my mom to go to the store because we didn’t have Band-Aids big enough. I thought long and hard about the scar it would leave. It is cool to have a scar from a mountain biking accident. But when I had gotten the cut, I was not on my bike. A scar from a dog-dominos accident didn’t sound as cool. I cleaned myself up and put a bandage on, and the next day at school I showed all of my friends. They all eagerly asked “How did you get that gnarly scar?” and “Wow, you must be brave!” Now, I’m not the kind of person where telling complete lies is natural for me. But stretching the truth is not out of my comfort zone. I answered wholeheartedly: “Oh this? I got this in an accident while I was mountain biking. I didn’t hurt that much. I didn’t even cry.”