My friend Katie and I took our collective four children to the Parker Mountain Pump Track with our mountain bikes on a recent adventure. Where my newfound confidence came from, I’m not quite sure; however, at some point, I ended on my back after bouncing off a few rocks with different body parts, leaving my bike up on the trail. Like many parents, especially partners of those with spinal cord injuries or mobility issues, I’m always worried about hurting myself. I usually weigh the risk and consider road biking, skiing, snowboarding, swimming, hiking, and walking to be relatively safe endeavors if we don’t consider others’ behavior like inattentive drivers or jerks in general. Skinning up the hill after COVID-19 closed our mountain made me super nervous because I didn’t want to be the a**hole who needed rescuing by taking a bad fall while skiing down. But mountain biking? Sure, why not. I used to be good at it before I had children, but then again, I used to be good at a lot of things!
I wasn’t taking any jumps at the pump track, but the kids all were. No, I was just a mom, cruising around the whoop-dee-doo knolls, up and down, up, and down, getting my feet back under me on my mountain bike. Suddenly the knoll was too sandy, and my tire slipped, sending me down into the rocks. As I lay there self- assessing, Katie moved with lightning speedy to my side equally as concerned as I was about my condition. “What is hurt? What do you need?”The four children aged 6-10 also stood around me.
“Mom, what were you trying to do? How did you end up way down here?” He is 10 and clearly a self-proclaimed expert on anything related to biking and apparently this particular pump track despite it being our first visit. I focus on Katie and reassure her that I just need a minute to collect my thoughts- that I do not believe anything is broken. Then she does what every good friend should do in those moments; she giggles– and then we are both belly laughing. She pulls me to my feet, and it is truly remarkable that I have not injured myself besides a few scrapes and a bruised tailbone. Man, was I lucky!
I’ll get back on the horse– I mean my bike– again, but in the meantime, Geoff and his friend Matt take our son and his daughter to a mountain biking center down state. We had asked Matt to help me to put Geoff’s downhiller on top of my car because its size is cumbersome, and there was no way I could do it solo. I’m starting to think we should get a small trailer to transport our gear even just as a family going biking! Anyway, dear Matt arrives with the intention of just loading the bike onto the car. But Geoff starts to fix something related to a mechanical issue from a down hilling trip to Japan over 15 years ago. Suddenly there is duct tape and fishing line and much of the bike is in distinct pieces on the garage floor.
My facial expression must have communicated concern to them both as Matt was covered in grease, and Geoff casually commented, “I’ve gone 55 miles an hour plenty of times on duct tape and fishing line.”
“How do you know it will hold?”
“We don’t, but we hope and pray and bring a lot of tools,” he smiles, not really looking up from the fishing line duct tape operation procedure. Soon, they are finished putting the adaptive downhill bike back together again, and I’m wondering how this equipment ever got to Japan and back in the first place all those years ago. He would like his next piece of adaptive sporting equipment to be a downhill bike with an e-assist (but of course not because he is turning 50 this year or anything) but it would allow him to have assistance when he needs it. Right now, his “assist” comes from me, a friend, either of our two children or our service pup.
Regardless, I packed up these two boys at heart with bikes, lunch boxes, a full car of excitement for the adventure that lay ahead. They could not wait to share the day together on a couple of mountain bikes just taking each turn and hill and challenge as they came. Geoff’s equipment held up on duct tape and fishing line may look different, but the capacity for a fun and memory making adventure holds the same kind of potential.