categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour
I like to go balls to the walls. I like to climb slow grinding mountain bike trails that make my heart pound against my ribs. I like to feel my skin dampen until the wet collects and beads and finally runs in streams down my body. I like listening to the shrill calls of birds and chipmunks squabbling while I spin my unrelenting rotations and take in the soft rough squish of my tires pushing over rocks and the hard twisting roots of sage and trees. I like the surprise when a shining doe bounds over my path or freezes into quaking stillness, and we look across the stirring grass into one another’s face and wonder what will happen next. I like to scan the changing terrain and plan how to ride through a sliver of open space where protruding rocks could catch my pedals and knock me to the ground or off the edge of the hillside. I like to click through my gears with dead-on precision, meeting the changing grade in exactly the right moment to maintain perfect efficiency as I climb a long steep hill, swallow it’s mineral dust, and rise out over its crest, legs aching, lungs bursting, and no stopping, but ride on past that place to a farther, higher distance. I like to come apart in the emerald landscape. Let my bones break and my organs rip open into a gory mess. I like the relief as my thoughts empty and the wounds I’ve been carrying tight in my gut and the set of my jaw and the muscles clenched around my spine and right there behind my twitching left eye pass out of me into nothingness. And I say, See, it was all nothing. See that.
I like to cowgirl my stuff. I like to soar down Blair Witch, pass through its chill darkness and speed over its dank, spongy, pine needle-wet leaves trail and then cross the bridge with its odd, pointed turns. I like to hit MGM—those narrow, banking curves—take the sudden rising right to Larry’s where I duck through the tree limbs and roll through the scratching bramble to slide helter-skelter across the sandy road back to Lupine, down and fast, and hit that last ultra-extreme switch-back, counterbalancing—not knowing, hoping—before flying out again through The Meadows’ wide open landscape and pedal-width troughs—careful there, it’s harder than it looks with an inch of margin. I like my low, cruising, downhill stance, feet parallel, sore-from-climbing crotch lifted off the seat, elbows in-or-smack-whack-fuck-motherfucker! I like the way I hit a series of rolls, and I’m going so fast that I can feel my bike lifting. And I have the same feeling as when my big Appendix quarter horse gathered to take a fence, and I would rise into a two-point position above my saddle—hips back, soft arch in my lower back, heart open. And as she stretched out through the jump I could feel her everything through my hands, and I would give forward through my elbows, gently, to follow, and we lived together for those few seconds in that soft flying grace. I like the adrenaline, the rush, the kick. I could stay out there forever. Sweating. Pushing. Breathing. Flying. But I’ve got that writer Monica Wood on my back wheel, whispering, Butt in Chair! And I try to shake her, but she hangs on. And since I know I have to get there, I take that turn instead of the other. And then I’m at my keyboard, and it feels like it’s going to be rough, but there is no denying my wildness, and I have to give it all I’ve got.
Debora Black is an athlete and writer living in Steamboat Springs, CO