As John and I dismounted our rented mountain bikes on the hot Saturday afternoon, we were asked how our ride was.
I replied with no regrets, “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m glad we did it, but will most likely never do it again.”
I’m talking about The Flume Trail Mountain Bike Ride that’s carved out from the mountain’s sides near Lake Tahoe, Nevada. This is a small excerpt of their description of the trail:
The Flume Trail Mountain Bike Ride is a moderately difficult one-way 14-mile ride at 7000′ to 8100′ feet in elevation with over a 1000′ of climbing in the first four miles and 4.5 miles of single track. The Flume Trail itself traverses above several steep sections, so those afraid of heights be forewarned. In this world, most spectacular vistas require traversing steep terrain.
The morning we arrived and as we got our bikes, we asked a few questions from the young man that helped us. There was something about the boy that seemed honest so I immediately liked his honest face. One thing he casually said to us was you cannot be afraid of heights. I wondered what he meant. Was I going to be dangling above drop-offs? Didn’t seem likely for it was a bike ride not a roller coaster ride.
We jumped on the shuttle and were driven to the starting point with all the other bikers that were young and fit. I was beginning to worry but I wasn’t going to tell John because this was a surprise vacation gift to me, his bike-loving wife. True, I like to ride but I like to leisurely ride around, nothing that serious riders like to do.
As we started up the first four miles, the elevation was getting to us, and as you know, if you can’t breathe you pretty much can’t move, right? We were breathing hard and hardly moving. As our shuttle friends passed us, we noticed everyone else had different bikes. They were riding Electric bikes. WHAT! We had ordinary bikes. No wonder it took us two hours to ride/walk, ride/walk, ride/walk four miles. It was brutal.
I know why we had ordinary bikes and not E-bikes and it haunts me. Because I like to save money where ever I can and my husband was afraid to spend the extra moolah (afraid of what I may say) on the rental of the E-bikes because after all, it was only a fourteen-mile ride in total. We can do fourteen miles pretty easily on a normal day but, as we found out in the hardest of hard ways, this was no ordinary day.
As we rode on, one thing I kept remembering was what my honest-faced young man told me. He said, “Your bike follows your eyes. If you look off to view the scenery as you are riding you’re going to ride off the trail and you don’t want to do that.”
For heaven’s sake why? What the heck was he talking about?
I found out why. We did exactly as the description said. We ‘traversed above several steep sections.’ However, I disagree there are only several steep sections.
As we rode the rim, there were so many scary sections that if I did slip off, I’d been a goner and John’s surprise for me would have been a bad memory for him appropriately titled, “The Day He Killed His Wife on a Bike Ride”.
As I faced those moments, and there were a lot of them, I replayed what the young man had said to me over and over; keep my bike following my eyes. Keep my bike following my eyes. It worked and I’m so glad it did for I am still alive to write.
As I look back on that day it was both an exhilarating and scary day. Physically hard and mentally challenging. I need more of this kind of life. A life where you must keep your eyes focused and your mind alert, all in the name of fun.
Thank you, John. You make life interesting and the scenery was simply breathtaking!