Swann Per. 1
6th Grade Lesher Middle School
a Difficult Descent
I zip by the lush green trees clustered on either side of me. My chair swings slowly from side to side. About twenty feet below me, tall golden grass sways in the breeze. Dark brown dirt trails lined with the deep grooves of the treads of mountain bike tires cut through the ground like long snakes slithering through the grass. As we approach the summit of the mountain, our chair makes a screeching sound and we are flung into a small covered area where we are to unload. I hear the loud whir of the machinery and feel myself jolted towards the ground, where I quickly hop off followed by my friend, Silas, and his father. We carry our bikes off the chairlift platform.
The sun is high in the sky, beating down on us, without a cloud in sight. From our viewpoint, it seems as though we can see the entire Rocky Mountains, alive with many colors, stretching out for miles then coming to a stop at the town of Crested Butte. My friend, Silas, had invited me to go downhill mountain biking with his dad for the day, on Crested Butte Mountain. I accepted the offer, despite the enormous difference between Silas’ skills on a mountain bike and mine. A group of bikers shot past us adding a dusty smell to the air.
“Well?” Silas said,
“Which trail should we take,” I looked at the many dirt trails that looped through tight trees and banked in the grass.
“How ‘bout this one,” Silas said, making a vague gesture to a trail marked with a faded sign that looked like it had seen better days. “Sure,” I stammered, a little reluctantly. We mounted our bikes, and started gliding slowly down the trail. The trees started to pass by quicker, and quicker as we coasted down the crooked trail. And with each tree I passed, I started to feel more and more uneasy. Silas and his dad were getting farther and farther ahead of me, while the trail was getting steeper, and steeper.
I pried open my hands from my bike’s brakes, for I had unknowingly clenched a very tight fist around them, and felt myself accelerate, cutting through the air. My heart quickened, my palms were covered in sweat. I tried to not to think about what would happen if I lost control. Suddenly, the trail banked sharply around a few trees directly in front of me. My reflexes drove me to twist the handlebars to my right, and my bike followed, maneuvering itself around the trees. Before I could congratulate myself for not breaking every bone in my body by slamming head-on into a tree, a huge cascade of rocks appeared directly before me. It was too late to break. In horror, I hit a large, jagged rock with my front tire. I felt my handlebars wiggle free from my grasp. Jolting through the sea of rugged stones, my bike flipped, heaving me over my handlebars. I felt as though a tornado had sucked me up, right out of the seat of my bike, then slammed me back onto the ground. A piercing pain shot through my left leg. Silas and his dad ran towards me.
“ Are you OK?” Silas exclaimed, obviously taken by surprise.
“Urrg!” I moaned.
“Do you think you can still ride?” Silas’s dad said calmly.
“I think so,” I mumbled. But the truth was, I didn’t think so. In fact, I really wanted to avoid riding all mountain bike trails that took this much effort just to not end up in the hospital. But I knew I had to keep riding. There was no bailing out now. After a few minutes, I very reluctantly climbed back onto my bike and forced myself to continue down the mountain.
I won’t go into detail of every time I found myself thrown off my bike, but I will tell you it happened very frequently. But with each time I picked myself up off the ground, it was as if I was receiving a kind of tip for improvement, and the next time I fell it was not as clumsy as the previous time. Though I was still very shaken from my crash on the beginning of the trail, as we further descended, I began to gain confidence.
When we reached the very end of the trail, the sun had dipped lower in the sky causing the trees to cast small shadows across the grass. The birds chirped in harmony, and I could see the beginning of the old chairlift we had taken up a few hours ago.
“Well CONGRATS!,” said Silas’ dad,
“It’s the final stretch!”. I grinned, and looked at the 40 feet or so that stood before me and the bottom. It was in those 40 feet that I fell off my bike for the last time of the day. It was just a bit less clumsy and humiliating than the first time I’d fallen. Even though I was still pretty bad at mountain biking, I was good enough to get up and keep going.