Sunday, September 15, 2013

the first ride

Today I met up with a person I'd never met before, hopped on a bike that wasn't mine, and followed him through miles and miles of rooted, rocky single track that sliced and curved and climbed through the Bent Creek Wilderness.

I have not gotten my ass kicked sideways from here to hell like that in a long, long time. Years. The hills were grueling and absolutely gutted any idea I had of myself as being in shape. I mean I'm fit, but I'm not in mountain bike shape. Holy hell. We went up and up and up and up. Then came the redeeming exhilaration of the downhills, half blissful and half terrifying, jolting like pop corn over the rocks and cruising through streams with mud and water flying everywhere.
I really lucked out with my companion, who I met at the coffee shop for the first time this morning. He was soft spoken and strong, offering me nothing but encouragement although he must have had his doubts, upon seeing my saucer eyes during the first round of hills. He was a forest fire fighter and knew all about the ecology of the area, stopping every now and then to point out leaves and the bugs destroying them while I gasped for breath, grateful to be standing still.

I passed lots of other bikers, and every single one shouted something jovial to me as they sped past. "You got this girl, this is worst part!" And then they'd careen around the bend.

One month deep into this new place and the ubiquitous friendliness is still a complete novelty to me.

Late in the afternoon, we were finally back in the parking lot, sitting in the shade drinking New Belgium Rangers. "Are they cold?" I'd asked when he offered me a beer from the back of his truck. He looked at me. "Oh yeah. I don't fuck around."
As I sat there, I felt a very familiar feeling creeping into my bones- the same sensation of being in a warm car after a long, hard day of skiing, when just sitting still feels like a joyful discovery, when every little extra like beer or music feels so earned and good and right. This is the reward that follows putting your thighs through a few solid hours of screaming agony.

Afterwards, I finally got to check out the River Arts District, and sit outside drinking beer at the Wedge, eating a bucket of peanuts and watching kids play corn hole. For anyone who doesn't know- we do not have a game called 'corn hole' in the  North. We occasionally play a round of 'bean bag toss' but it's not a thing. At all.

I think today took guts. I'm trying to recognize that more because I tend to focus on all the things I fall short on. It took some guts and it payed off. I'm proud of myself for this day, and so grateful to the firefighter, and so supremely exhausted. I gotta run now and enjoy some front porch pie & piano.

12 comments:

megssj said...

Way to go woman. You did something that so many would never try. Those Rangers must have hit the spot. In Northern MN where I'm sort of from, Corn Hole is a game that involves a group of people standing in a circle, hitting a baseball from one bat to the next around the circle. Its a popular game title?

Meg

C said...

Cold Rangers after a few hours on the trail- the best! We have Corn-hole here in Michigan- it is huge at tailgates and even bars. Hope you get out riding lots more!

katrkatekate said...

I've lived in the south my entire life and corn hole has only made an appearance in the past few years.
I'm so glad you're enjoying yourself!

Sian said...

Thats sounds terrifying and awesome. It's what I love about reading about you x

Marti said...

I married a NC man and no matter where we go visit the friendliness of NC always blows my mind. He is from Boone and that is our favorite place on earth and Asheville is a close second. Its so easy to fit in and feel like you belong there. Glad to see you are enjoying NC so far. I can't wait to move there one day!

omundsen said...

You had me at NB Ranger... although I'm a CO native and slightly biased :)

caitlin jacobsen said...

Go Melina! Mtn biking is a blast and it sounds like you discovered some good trails and a cool new friend along the way. I especially loved your "popcorn" analogy - so true. Mountain biking scares me, I love it but sometimes it terrifies me. Such a rush every time.. thanks for sharing your first ride!

megattack said...

Woo hoo! Sounds almost exactly like my first mountain bike ride experience recently!

megattack said...

Woo hoo, FUN!! Sounds remarkably similar to my first mountain bike ride ever, recently!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an awesome guy! Rangers for a post ride cerveza? Delicious...The only thing that could have been better would have been tall cans of Dale's Pale Ale but they didn't sell those at the Ingles off Patton :-)

Rachel Ruth said...

I'm living in Germany for a year, and the thing I miss the most is the 'friendliness' of the South. You walk by a German in the park, they stare straight ahead and don't even glance at you. Every time I expectantly wait, smile ready in case I receive the go-ahead.. but nope. I'll just sit here and talk to myself, then.

Emery Lane said...

We TOTALLY have corn hole up here in the North! Lynden has epic corn hole tournaments! :D