Monday, March 01, 2010

(614) Magazine Features Your Fearless Leader!

**All photos courtesy of Chris Casella

The Unabashed Diary of Adventure Girl
February 2, 2010

Dear Diary,
Today I went mountain biking. I know what you're thinking, Diary. It's Winter. What kind of crazy person rides a mountain bike in this weather?

I can answer that: Chris Sharp, sales manager of Roll Bicycle Shop & Service Center and founder of Backbone Adventure Cycling, does. He IS crazy - and I'm easily persuaded.

So Chris and I rendezvoused at Roll's Polaris store. Their European designed Perfect Fit machine scanned my upright body using lasers and cameras. Perfect Fit multiplied body dimensions by my easily persuaded personality and paired me to a Giant Cypher 2 mountain bike. Walmart, according to Chris, does not sell this bike; lightweight, with advanced suspension and as solid frame as they come, this bike handles snowmines (hidden objects on a trail) of any size destruction.

Off to the dressing room. I suited up in the latest winter bike fashion, complete with Roll jersey, windbreaker, sleek black pants, and chamois (pronounced sham-ee) shorts. Diary, if you'd only seen the magnificence of such shorts! Entering a new world of velocipede, I stepped, one leg at a time, into these tight silky knee breeches with a built-in padded diaper of perfectly formed ass cheeks.

Chris and I drove our bikes to Alum Creek's Phase-1 multi-use trail. Most mountain bikers around here avoid the treacherous conditions of a winter trail. A bed of icy leaves under a layer of slippery snow hides the narrow paths barely cut into the sides of steep inclines. Falling off your bike is easy, and could mean a 20-foot tumble followed by a rocky valley landing which may or may not be more painful than hitting the ice repeatedly on your way down.

"Only look where you want to go; the bike will find its way there. If you're crossing a narrow bridge, don't look down, look ahead at the dirt embankment."

Diary, I know I said Chris is crazy, but I think he's also a Zen master, in a sense saying don't obsess with the moment's obstacles; focus on your desired results and you'll naturally find your way.

Unfortunately, Zen can be elusive. The single-track trail hadn't seen wheels since the snow fell and a winter wonderland looked like a death course. I rode the Giant Cypher 2 skittishly eyeing each and every obstacle: ricocheting over rocks and roots and diving under unexpected trees slicing the path.

I followed Chris's fresh tracks as he crossed a short bridge. I looked past to the embankment and reached the other side, just as Chris counseled. Accelerating on flat ground, we down-shifted the rise of uneven hills, collecting enough momentum to reach the top. Sneaky snowmines threw my front wheel nearly perpendicular to the frame. Losing balance, I steered around protrusions, wheels spinning in an exhausted attempt to grip snow. Helmet tight, I could hear my muffled breathing and rubber crunching over leaves.

And then Chris told me about "the bridge."

It's not a scary bridge, he assured, "It's wide with handrails." Diary, I had no reason to fear this bridge; how can you fear a bridge that's wide and has handrails? We rode to the top of a hill and I lifted my bike around to face the steep descent, which twice curved sharply before reaching the bridge. Chris watched as I steadied both feet onto the pedals. The subtle sounds of a winter forest quieted further as all creatures anticipated the crossing of the bridge. Eyes blurring at the sight of the 30-foot narrow path with all its rocks and trees and roots in the way, I felt tall and vulnerable. I braked a little at the first curve, bumping all the way down, keeping my pedals flat and parallel, I lifted my butt and leaned my weight back.

On the hill's last bend, I looked past the 15 feet of wood slats uneven in height and placement. I don't remember braking, I don't remember much, but, Diary, I must have braked. It was midday and the melting snow on the bridge met with the wood's green moss, providing a slick grimy surface. There's a moment at the genesis of an accident when you wish you could stop and alter the physical realm. In that millisecond, braking caused my wheel to slide and I rag-dollied over my bike and into the handrail. In that millisecond, I felt each of my ribs crunching like a sledgehammer to the chest.

Chris rushed downhill to my side.

"Are you okay? Did you poop in your chamois?"

Oh, Chris's undying humor - but with the wind knocked out of me, I was forced to delay my answer.

Alas, Diary, do not fret. Chris and I rolled on as I had a few good hours of fun before debilitating pain engulfed my chest. He promises to take me out in the spring when the trail is dry and warm. You know, if you Google search "internal bleeding ribs," the first result is a mountain biking website with descriptions on how to diagnose involuntary dismount injuries. How apropos.

Where Can I Be Adventure Girl/Boy?

1. Roll
This store freakin' rocks, and my love for Chris runs deep. Their free Perfect Fit consultation will match you to the perfect bike, whether for asphalt or dirt (or ice). Borrow demo bikes and Chris will take you out on the trail if you ask nicely.

Already a mountain biking rockstar? Chris also represents talent around the country.

2. Lake Hope, Camp-n-Roll July 16th - 18th
Sponsored by Roll, this event is an annual fundraiser weekend held near Athens. Bring your bike and tent, or test on-site demo bikes. This will be a weekend to learn, ride, and play. Check out the Roll Blog for forthcoming details this spring.

3. ODNR's website lists numerous Ohio mountain biking trails for all level riders.


At 9:00 PM, Blogger Sharpie said...

That was so much fun! Megan, you are clearly a perfect fit for the Backboners. Much love...and please tell me how the ribs are doing!

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Eric said...

Super props to you Chris for speading the good word of riding no matter what the weather. I think instead of coming here you need to get your team to ride the snowy single track trails out at your neck of the woods.


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