head banging

During middle school I was a boy scout for about a year and a half. I have a lot of fond memories from those days, which is probably part of the reason why I love going outdoors. But I don’t remember any of the technical stuff that I learned from those days. I don’t remember how to do any of those fancy knots that I learned, and I can barely handle any sort of first aid other than slapping on a band-aid. And if you ask me to start a fire without matches or a lighter– well, we will be sleeping in the cold. The only useful thing that I can remember is the scout’s motto, to “be prepared.”

Be prepared. That’s something that I used to take to heart, but nowadays I am getting somewhat lax. I should know better, especially when mountain biking. All sorts of stuff can happen when mountain biking. Chains break. Tires flatten. Knees scrape. Chins hit the dirt hard. And you can get utterly utterly lost. I’ve learned my lessons from each of those situations. I bought a mini tool with a chain breaker. I bought spare tubes to carry with me and a first aid kit. And nowadays I usually ride where I know the trails or have done a bit of research ahead of time (but I still get often get lost.)

This weekend I was utterly unprepared, and pretty much everything that could go wrong went wrong. I went out to Salmon Falls with Ray and Dave. It was Ray’s first time mountain biking, and we completely lost him. There’s this one section where the trail drops down and crosses a creek, and then there’s a fork in the road. I thought I heard Ray right behind me, so I dropped down through the water and made a left at the fork. Apparently he didn’t see me, so Ray made a right at the fork. A few minutes later Dave and I realized that Ray was not with us, so I decided to go back and look for him. I figured we had lost him at that fork, so I decided to go try to find him while Dave continued on to try and find where the trails met up again.

I had never been up that right side before. It was a pretty monster climb that kept going and going upwards. After a good 15 minutes or so of climbing I gave up, figuring that Ray wouldn’t have continued climbing all this way. So I went down and took the left trail, scanning around the trail while riding slowly. It’s possible that he lost control and went off the trail and could be hurt, so I searched all around. I was looking everywhere except at the trail, so I wasn’t picking clean lines, so I hit something and my rear tire flatted out. I looked in my backpack and realized that I didn’t have my tools or a spare tube with me. I had gone skiing a few weekends ago and had emptied out my pack then. Woops. I actually started laughing, thinking, “What else could go wrong?”

I started walking up the trail, pulling my bike along with me, and moving out of the way whenever I heard a biker coming. I asked a couple if they had seen another Asian biker (we are still somewhat of a rarity– at least for mountain biking), but none had seen Ray. After a while I saw Dave walking towards me. He had a pretty nasty looking welt near his chin and some abrasions on his arms and legs. Apparently he had gone over his bars and planted his face on the trail. I knew from when I checked my backpack for a spare tube that I didn’t have my first aid kit. Yup, completely unprepared for everything. He said he was alright, just in a lot of pain.

But at least things were looking up. Ray had called Dave, and he was waiting near the creek where we had been separated. So Dave and I made the long slow walk back to meet Ray. So when we were all back together I learned that Ray actually took the trail on the right all the way to the top, all the while wondering, “What the heck? How do they climb so fast?” He had broken his chain too, but some friendly bikers had helped him put it back together. We found another friendly group who had a spare chain and pump, and who helped me fix my flat. And so despite my being completely unprepared, we got lucky. We could have had a long walk, and Dave could’ve been more injured, but in the end we made it out okay. Next time I will be more prepared. As the friendly biker was helping me replace my tube, I was figuratively banging my head while thinking, “Stupid… I know better than this.” Next time I will be prepared.

On Sunday evening I went to the Gungor concert with some friends, old and new. I’m actually not all that much of a concert person. I do like music, but I guess I like stories better, so if I’m actually paying to see something live I usually prefer going to musicals or plays. But this concert blew me away, it was as if the band was telling the story through the music. They basically told the story of the gospel through music, going from the creation, to the bride, to recreation, and finishing with heaven. There was an amazing mix of music from joyful choruses to somewhat sad sounding music to crazy head banging duels between a banjo and a guitar or mandolin. And interspersed between the sets was a fiery spoken word performance. All in all, I was quite impressed.

Things I am thankful for:

  • friendly mountain bikers who are prepared
  • gorgeous weather that allows for both skiing and mountain biking in the same month (even though it got me in trouble this time)
  • cool Christian bands like Gungor

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