We were warned. The signs were literally there – positioned in the middle of a freshly paved bike path. But the words “trail closed” are hard to take seriously when you’re flying down a steep grade of smooth blacktop on a bike newly liberated from winter storage.
The consequences of our actions eventually materialized in the form of three overlapping chain link fences. The trail was not only closed, it was on lockdown. The fences spanned the entire width of the road, including the bike path on the right and a portion of the grassy hill on the left.
We had two options: accept defeat and take the detour back up the hill or complete our act of defiance and find a way around that fence. While I debated the feasibility of throwing my bike over the top and climbing through barbed wire, Luke suggested a more reasonable approach.
“Are you willing to hike-a-bike?” he asked.
A well-worn path was carved into the hillside, presumably by people like us hoping to avoid getting sweaty in their skinny jeans. My bike was way too heavy to lift onto my shoulder, much less chuck over a 12′ fence. Hike-a-bike it was.
Chuck Taylors, while cute and stylish, are fairly useless from a technical perspective. They offered nothing in the way of traction as I slipped my way up the side of the hill. There was some roughage along the side of the fence, so I pushed my bike into it, hoping it would help. Instead, I managed to lodge a vine root in my rear disc brake with precision accuracy, tethering my bike to the Earth. After a few minutes of thrashing, sweating and swearing, I defeated the demon root and proceeded on.
Meanwhile, Luke, an experienced mountain biker, strode easily up the hill behind me. There was not single drop of mud, sweat or blood anywhere on his being. Further maddening, he was calmly doling out helpful advice that would have benefited me greatly, had I cared to actually listen instead of rage.
“It’s easier if you just ….”
“LUKE, I APPRECIATE THE FACT THAT YOU’RE TRYING TO HELP….ACTUALLY, NO! I DON’T APPRECIATE IT! JUST LET ME DO THIS!!”
Getting down was as eventful as going up. The image that stays with me is of my red Chucks sliding helplessly behind the weight of my bike. In a final act of defeat (belligerence), I let go of the handlebars and watched with satisfaction as my bike crash through the trees, landing at the bottom in a cloud of dust.
I jumped down from the hill and chilled the hell out. I was fine. The bike was fine. After apologizing profusely to Luke, he was fine. Best of all, we were a couple of bad asses who ignored the rules, faced some adversity and found a way to prevail. Sure, there was a bit of mud on my clothing and I owed Luke a drink, but we didn’t have to turn back in detour defeat.
Rather than dig too deeply into some underlining meaning about taking the road less traveled or living by our own rules, I’d rather leave you with this simple thought: avoid wearing skinny jeans on long bike rides. One poor decision begets another.