If I don’t aim for the edge every now and then, it becomes far too easy to stay safely in the middle of mundane. Mountain biking in Mammoth Lakes, California (June 2009) was a memorable challenge that stretched my brain and my body in all the right ways.
Originally published: October 7, 2009
One of my most vivid childhood memories involves my pre-teen self catapulting over the handlebars of my dad’s bike right before the first day at a new school. Nice, huh? Nevertheless, my friend talked me into one of his favorite sports, mountain biking, this past June.
We were in the right spot. Mammoth Lakes, California is a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts of every type. The Eastern Sierra mountains cradle the quaint ski resort which is bordered by both the Ansel Adams and the John Muir National Wilderness areas. The snow-covered uppermost trails were still inaccessible, but a shuttle took us to the halfway point and the start of our descent.
I kept a firm hand on the brake as we hit the Downtown trail. Boulders, tree roots and tight sandy turns kept me balanced to the back with every reflex on alert. Honestly? I was scared!
But, the beauty of the forest and distant mountains against the bluest sky and the enthusiasm of my friend were encouragement enough to stretch myself just a little more.
Once I’d conquered a couple of sandy turns without plunging over the side, I felt brave enough to roll over the obstacles. Not all of them. I inched around a couple heart-thumpers thinking “maybe next time”.
The ride was a terrific work-out. When we finally bounced back onto the road into town some two hours later, completely exhilarated, my whole body slowly exhaled. I’d crossed a personal boundary and been blessed with an intense sensory experience that I’ll always remember.
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