I raced road bikes for about 6 years, 18 years ago. I was sort good at it, was always competitive in races and on training rides. I loved it. Then, gave it up. I woke up, snapped out of it, realizing it was illogical for me to work so hard at riding. But always missed it.
Jump to 4 weeks ago - I went flying down a grassy hill on my son's MTB. I was grinning ear to ear. I had to get a bike! Hooked up with an old friend at the bike shop (still worked there!) and out I rode on a bike a lot more expensive than planned. I hit the trails for the first time on my way home. That was just 2 weeks ago.
Jump to last week - with 4 trail sessions under my belt and maybe 2 weeks of road bike miles in my legs, I meet my old friend from the bike shop for a group ride with 5 other guys. We take off through the same trails I rode on the first day. I was holding my own, sort of. I would start toward the back, they would disappear around the next corner, and the sweepers were coaching a Total Noob who was on the overnight Trek Superfly rental from the shop. We would regroup at clearings, chit chat, then move on.
We were on a relatively easy flat section. The Total Noob was 2 guys in front of me. We got to a curve on the trail that moves us next to a 30' cliff (about 15 feet away) that goes down to a busy 4 lane road. There were some roots and a tree or two that had to be navigated. Well, Total Noob goes off the path like someone pulled him with a rope. He goes over the handlebars, tumbles down the hill. I stop, the guy in front of me is screaming, we figure we are witnessing him fall to his death. Then his fall is suddenly stopped. He is saved by two of small trees clinging to life on the edge of the cliff. As cars race below, we run down and pull him back up. He shakes it off, unharmed we continue. We finish the ride. He tells a few jokes, we bid him good buy, he rides home.
So... from one Noob to another, remember this is dangerous. The bike will follow your eyes. Keep your eyes on your line.
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