Today was an optional day of activities, which included mountain biking; but let’s be honest, who was really going to pass that up? Despite doing a 49-mile bike ride and a hike up to a mile high in elevation the days before you could feel the excitement in the air and pain still remaining in our sore muscles.
On the way to the mountain biking course where we were to meet Zoe Cohen, our guide and a physiology professor at U of A, we travelled farther and farther into desert. The thought on our minds was, “not again”… still traumatized from being lost in the desert on the bike ride, but the thought of demo-ing $5,000 mountain bikes was too cool to resist.
Once at the course and after being fitted for our bikes, it was time to ride.
Starting off nice and smooth, we were about to own the bunny trail. As we came up to the first obstacle, we were filled with nothing but absolute confidence. We had this. Zoe crossed the small ditch and made it look like a cakewalk. One by one, we attempted to cross over, and one by one, we slowly dropped like flies. The ditch may have been a little deeper than anticipated.
Past the first obstacle, we were still going strong. Mountain biking seemed to be turning out like a nice relaxing day. Despite 4 flat tires, some crashes into cacti, lots of jumping cholla, cuts and bruises the size of softballs, we were going strong. Unstoppable. Oddly however, the ditches got deeper, the path got rockier, and Dr. Sweeney seemed to be biking faster and faster. Keeping in mind Zoe’s advice of “when in doubt, chicken out”, we continued, even on foot at times. Then it dawned on us. This was no longer the bunny trail, and there was no warning. Dr. Sweeney, being the leader, had kept us on a “need to know” basis (a.k.a. he didn’t tell us) and ventured off onto the advanced trail. Surprise!
We finally found our way back to the road to escape the desert trail and return the bikes by our 3 p.m. deadline. It was a long day filled with laughs, spills, wipeouts, sun, and some serious muscle power. The life lesson of the day: fall down seven times, stand up eight.
Gabby and the rest of the X-Treme Dream Team