It was a warm August afternoon and I was feeling nervous as heck. It had been almost 2 months since I had purchased my first bike, and I was invited by Travis (aka life parter) to go out on my very first non-paved trail ride. This was a new adventure, and something that was a big deal to me.
I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a little kid, and even then, my riding was limited. This ride was going to Malanaphy Springs; another first for me, as I had never been there in my few years of living in Decorah. So it was going to be what a call a “Twofer” as in, a two for one deal. I get my first non-trail bike ride as well as get to see a new Decorah spot!
Biking is what Travis does; he lives, breathes, repairs, and builds bikes-and apparently is a moral support coach as well as a tour guide. Richard is a heavy, steel-frame Fuji; hills are not my forte, so you can imagine I needed all the help I could get! Especially since I had not ridden on a road in a long time, and crossing hwy 52 scared me to death. (It wasn’t that bad!) Hills are another story….and I hate them!
I remember following the road, and eventually getting to our destination. Rather than riding the bikes all the way back, we hid them somewhat off to the side. Who would want to steal my bike, anyway? A poor desperate soul would have no idea what they were getting into. Travis knew how much I valued my bike, and assured me that it would be safe. (No one was around, anyways.)
We walked along the trail, I was reminded to keep my arms close to myself (nettles) and I hoped that I wouldn’t become a deer or wood tick feast. I was a beauteous buffet for any and all blood-sucking critters.
The walk was nice, I felt comfortable in the woody surroundings. When we came to the springs, I was awe struck! The falls were amazing, as if they were out of a movie. The river scene was simply lovely, and it wasn’t too terribly hot or humid that day. All in all, it was perfect.
We sat on a rock together and talked, which seemed so much out of a movie. I remember looking at Travis’ side profile while he spoke of life and various things. A fish jumped in the distance, as I heard a dramatic “plop” in the river. After we spent some time just talking and looking at the beauty around us, we started to head back. Not too far, tho, as the decision was made to climb a rock cliff.
I’ve not been so high up in such a long while, but am somewhat adept at climbing due to the hills I grew up around back home. I took thrill in the adventure of it all, and as we stood up top and looked down and around, I truly felt free. It was exhilarating!
Our walk back to the bikes was bittersweet; it was hard for me to accept that such an amazing adventure was over for the day. Our ride back to town became dark, but all was well. Until it came to climbing up the massive Mill St. hill! I was given a short tutorial on shifting, and a great amount of moral support. Almost to the top was when I ended up riding my bike right into Travis’, and you can imagine how embarrassed I was! Before I could fall, he had grabbed my arm “Josie! Are you okay?” and all I could do was be thankful it was dark out, so one couldn’t see how red in the face I was.
Thankfully, it wasn’t a full or true indication of my bike riding skills, and I have subsequently gotten better. At least I can say I can bike up Mill St. without having to walk my bike up that darn hill! I also ended up getting so much more out of that adventure than I anticipated. A leap of faith brought me a lot of richness in my life, and I can’t complain about that! (Even if I did, essentially, run my life partner over.)