Painful Lessons

Yep, thats me on the right — shocking for me anyway.  So how did I get here in the badlands of Utah?

The images in this post were all taken today.  We went from low lands to high lands to trails with snow on the shoulder.  Cows and horses are roaming wild in the backcountry.  This is a ridiculous place.  Again, click on the images if you want to see them in greater detail.  Some are worth it.

Chris Ridgway, a Gold Medalist for motocross in the 15th X-Games in Los Angeles, invited to meet me in the Utah desert for a week long lesson on how to ride off-road.  I took the offer up and planned a cross country bike trip anyway so I worked around the schedule.  Ok, fine, done.

So we met in Blanding, Utah to start the schooling for this useless skill for most.  Today was the first day of these long and onerous lessons.  I can say that last night I left a few winks wasted behind  thinking and wondering what was in store for me.  I honestly had no pre conceived notion of what, where and how this was going to happen but I certainly was excited to get going.

Moving forward now to the facts about today’s 11 hour ride.  Yes, a full-on 11 hours on trails.  I dropped the Honda CRF450X dirt bike four times today.  The first time took about 2 hours of riding to happen.  I fell into a small bush along the side of the dirt road.  Hey, I was fine!  So happy the first time I ever dropped a moving bike didn’t hurt.  Then I dropped it again a minute later but lets not count that one.  Ok, so I was just getting started.

The next two drops were at pretty slow speeds but were equally
annoying.  Again, I knew it was coming so I bailed and got dirty, had a broken heart, but all good again to go.

The last drop was not so much fun.  The trails are so challenging and nothing like I have been on before.  I would be lying if I said the trails let you relax and just enjoy the scenery — the front wheel always wants to drop me and the rear tires often are messy sliding like your riding on marbles — its nothing at all the same as a road bike which has a sticky connection to the road and my confidence is super high.  No, these trails always want to bring me down.  Its pretty exhausting in that I am really focusing hard to avoid another mishap.  Anyway, on the last drop, I hit my noggin’ right straight on into a bluff next to the road at a decent impact.  I’m pretty shocked that my helmet took all of the energy and I walked away without any issues.  I sprained my thumb, but not bad either.  What this drop did do was let me know that this is real.

My consistent learning on these trails are emotionally exhausting.  Chris and I are sharing an intercom between us, built into our helmets and he is awesome — always communicating with me.  He is telling me what I am doing well and what I am doing wrong.  He is giving me instructions and letting me know when I am missing the beat which is often.  But his temperament is perfect.  Still, I recall the last crash so I have to be cognizant of this.

Anyway, over the next week we will be going out riding, camping, learning and enjoying the process to learn — a means to an ends.

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