Ricky never mentioned mountain biking was so hard when he said we should start going to the mountains to ride. Maybe it wasn’t him; perhaps I was the one who thought it couldn’t be so hard. Ricky at that time was already riding at the starter level, so I thought I should be able to do it too. So I agreed to sign up, though I had a big doubt beating in my chest.
“It can be that hard, can it?” I asked as I followed him for the first time to the mountain base to register my bike.
“No it isn’t,” he said.
I could almost tell that I saw a cynical smile so briefly spread on his face. I was excited that for sure I was. ‘If Ricky can, I can too’ I had said to myself. Then I summoned all the courage I could.
“Did you not say Smith is also doing this?” I asked in a way to say, then it is just a piece of cake with little stone in it, difficult to enjoy.
He nodded. “Even Rudd from Levy Princeton high. And Jake, Harry, Fred, Nat……”
“Okay…” I stopped him. He had gotten me there. “I’m not scared.” I sounded like I was mostly reassuring myself and not him.
“Of course not. If all those people can do it, you can too. Right?” He nudged me towards the office. “I have full confidence in you.” He gave me a brisk smile.
I ignored him and walked into the office where I put down my name, paid the normal dues and registered my bike.
It appeared not to be difficult on the first day when doing the introductory biking skills. I had been riding a bike before now, though it was a different bike from a mountain bike, but I adapted easily to what to do with and expected from the bike.
The first day was about appreciating the ability of the mountain bike. The Do’s and Don’ts of a mountain biker riding on a mountain bike, especially for beginners. Things to expect while riding on the mountain. Understanding one’s bike was also emphasized. Making self with bike one while riding, and most especially when taking a jump or making a freestyle move.
Do I need to say that the first day was almost a total theory? The only thing that made it almost and not total theory was when we were asked to take a few meters to ride so they can ascertain that we are comfortable on a bike.
On our way home Ricky said. “I told you it isn’t as had as you had thought.”
I must say I found the first day’s experience quite easy too and you already know why. I had the feeling it would not be as easy as that from the second day on.
“You can say that Ricky, but I have the feeling it won’t be forever.”
He smiled, and that smile said it all.
For those of us who knew how to ride the normal bike before, we were allowed to catch up with people like Ricky who had started one week earlier than we did. And it felt good to train with Ricky. I tried all I could to relax my fast beating heart, and send the fear building in me down the pit it had come from
Maybe they had not gotten far when we entered the second stage. Because when we started the small jumps, the whole fear I had tried to submerge came back to the surface. But the small jump was just the beginning of it. I found it very difficult to take the bike off the floor, even after trying several times. But I was not ready to give up just after the first time of trying. I was never the type who caved into fear or give up after failing. Failing for me was a challenge to do more than I did before. So giving up now was out of the options.
Most of the guys were already making the jumps, even Ricky and Smith. That did not make me happy. So when I got home that day, I started to check the internet for videos on how to make jumps, techniques employed in lifting a bike successfully. I got some of them on YouTube, and I watched them over and over. I spent the whole night looking at different techniques from great bikers and used the early morning free time to practice at the back of the house.
That day, while going to the mountain, I was feeling confident. I couldn’t wait to try out what I had learned on the YouTube the other night and practiced that morning. I found out that it was not even as hard as I had led myself to believe. Confidence was the key, as well as knowing the techniques and following it strictly.
What surprised everyone was that after making a first successful small jump, I was ready and eager to make several more and move to the next stage. Ricky thought I was in over my head. I could tell that our coach was even surprised at my speed that morning. The night before, I could not move the bike an inch off the ground.
“What has gotten into you today?” he asked.
“Nothing Coach. Why?” I tried futilely to hide my excitement.
He smiled and said instead “You are doing great kid.” and I smiled back at him.
“Thanks, coach,” I said and smiled back.
Maybe it was those last words of Coach Zack because after that day I became the best among the starters. I was willing to go the extra mile, going for more challenges.
Sometimes I will stay back at the mountains after everybody was gone, play some of the videos I had recorded from the internet, and work my way through them.
Sometimes Ricky would stay back with me, and we would go through the drills together. Those were good times.
I became the best student in every aspect of mountain biking despite my poor beginning.