I started riding mountain bike not too long ago. Enough time to be confident but not enough to be an expert, I think. I was already on my second bike, though. And I was trying out longer, more demanding trails. But it was also fun because now I was able to go ride with a group. It was this group of people that were really into that sport, as a club but not really that formal. There were many people in there, from people that looked entirely too old to be riding a bike at all and people too young that looked like they barely knew how to walk, let alone ride a bike. But everybody was learning, everybody helping each other, everybody enjoying the sport.
Now, even if the trails themselves were always different, meaning that nature changed itself every day and also that we constantly tried new paths, we also had a sort of routine. We had an online group chat where we would set up meeting points, time and place to go to the mountains. The ones that could show up that day would comment, or we could say we would skip that day. It was very organized.
Then, very punctual we would all arrive, everyone with their respective gear and all we would need. But there was also a sense of friendship and support within the group. Because it wasn’t rare that someone would forget something, that someone was missing a water bottle, that someone’s gloves just disappeared, that someone desperately wanted a snack, anything really. And we would be there for each other. We would solve our problems, and we would support each other. Because we knew that we weren’t exactly practicing an activity that was particularly safe. So, if you’re going to go down a mountain super fast and possibly risking your life, you want someone you trust near you. So we had this little mountain bike family.
But there was this day, this particular special day, where there was an interesting conversation among the group. It went something like this:
“Look at this!” My friend, James, posted on the group chat, along with a picture predicting a light rain on Sunday.
“I’m in!! Who’s going?” replied another friend, Jessica.
Now, most of the group said no. We lived in a zone where “light rain” could easily translate into “heavy storm” in a matter of seconds. Of course, the most experienced members of the group had already ridden their bikes in the mountains under the rain, that was a nearly obligatory experience. But, well, none of the kids could. Except for one intrepid eighteen-year-old boy named Charlie, he readily agreed. He was not super experienced, but he tried harder than anybody else, and he simply had the guts.
“You guys are crazy if you plan on going out like that,” said Pete, the creator of the group. “I’m not letting you go. Not without me. Count me in.”
He was a really pleasant man, beyond his fifties, and nearing that status of “probably too old to be doing this but he’s doing great so whatever.” And with such good company, how could I deny the chance? I had never ride my bike under a storm, but there were first times for everything, right?
So, we set up the time and place, and we prepared our gear. Although the weather still called for “light rain” we were instructed to prepare for a storm. So I had to get a few new pieces of equipment. You know, for bike riding in the rain in the mountains you need some special things, it’s not a small deal. I got waterproof everything, I prepared a change of clothes, I worked to get my bike more than ready for the conditions, and then I was ready to go.
We had Charlie, the eighteen year old that was brave but impulsive; Pete, the expert that was probably going to save everyone’s lives; James, the clown of the group that actually was knowledgeable about first aid techniques so that was good; Jessica, the talented rider that had actually won championships but was still kind of healing an injury; And me, the middle ground, the unimpressive rider that was hopefully not going to mess up everything.
Oh, and the guest of honor: the rain. The entire environment, really, was a whole character for our day. We had the dramatic gray clouds, the cold raindrops, the mighty wind, the imposing mountain, the changing trails, the untrustworthy ground, the tricky mud, the messy puddles, all of it, it was part of the adventure and part of us, in some ways.
We started up the mountain, following our routines and enjoying more than expected that light rain. It was just a drizzle, at first, very entertaining. It was a fun new experience, and I wasn’t complaining at all. But then, of course, the storm came. We were about halfway through our trail when the rain started falling more heavily.
There was a fun side to it, splashing in the puddles, going faster and making a mess through the water and all the mud, it was really, really messy. But there was also the side that made you feel insecure and somewhat anxious. Because the truth is, the ground became very slippery. So that was dangerous. Not to mention that the rain made it really hard to see everything as you would normally.
At the times when the rain fell the most heavily, it was almost like having a curtain in front of you. That was way too dangerous. However, instead of ending up needing the services of the man who knew first aid, we luckily had the expert that knew the mountain like the palm of his hand. Peter lead us into another trail, and there were more trees in there, that stood in the way of the rain and made it easier to see, easier to have fun out there, and easier to go back home safe and sound.