You steadily climb the hill covered with moist leaves. At some points the damp leaves slip and your tires spin but with a little weight adjustment you are able to continue. This hill is long, about 2000 feet that rises at a moderate slope. Halfway up now your quads are burning and unconsciously your mouth opens to take in more air. You are not in the lowest gear, you save that for the really steep hills, but you are in a low gear. Each orbit of the pedal takes you closer to the current goal, the top. Even though you quads feel tired and you are breathing hard you are not challenged much by this hill. You come here almost everyday. It is a short ride from your house that you do every morning before leaving for work. It gets the adrenaline and blood pumping, makes you feel alert, awake, and alive. Only 200 feet more to go. You can see where the sun is hitting the clearing at the top of the hill. Down within the trees where you are now is shady, cool, and covered with summer morning dew. You glance at the watch attached to your wrist and see below the “Ironman” logo that there is only half an hour until you need to be home in time to get ready for work. You approach the top and enter the small meadow filled with small wild flowers, tall grasses, and the sun. The glorious sun warms your back and you can feel the difference in the air. It is warmer up here but with a sweet breeze that sweeps through your helmet.
Leaning on your bike, you take in the panoramic view that surrounds this hilltop. The real mountains in the distance appear purple and green, like rigid pyramids basking in the Rocky Mountain sunlight. The lake which your house sits on is like a giant mirror. To the west is the black scar where the wild fire raged last fall. You recall sitting in this same spot, watching the blaze, in awe of its beauty but disturbed by its destruction. Far off is the small town where you live and work. Admiring the view it is hard to pull yourself away and begin the trek home.
There are two ways home, the way you came and Kamikaze Drop. You don’t often take Kamikaze Drop because, honestly, it scares you. It is much steeper than the way you came, with a few places where it is amazing anyone can ride there. The trail is not only steep but is laced with roots and littered with rocks. One time when you went that way you hit a rock too hard and fell off your bike. The gears near your pedals stabbed you in the back of the calve and the pain was like your skin was being slowly peeled off. You hate to let bad events shape your life but you still don’t ride Kamikaze Drop. But somehow this morning is different. The air is different, the sun is different, it feels like a day to ride Kamikaze Drop. A feeling of determination swells up inside you and you know you need to overcome that fear. Fear only inhibits life, and that is not acceptable to you.
You hop on your bike and begin to ride toward the start of Kamikaze Drop. You are not sure whether to shift down or up so you leave yourself in the low gear you used to get up the other side of the hill. You come to the beginning of the trail. The trees on both sides of the Kamikaze Drop trail seem much farther away from you then you remembered them being, the trail seems wider. Your bike starts down the hill and gains speed. Easing on the brakes to control your speed you lean back off the seat to keep the back wheel firmly planted on the ground. The roots bounce you and your bike; and you are challenged to keep your balance. The first rock is approaching and you prepare to lift the front wheel just enough to make it over. You do that well but as the back wheel goes over the rock it lifts your bike into a steeper position. You are not comfortable and slam on the brakes out of pure, yet bad, instinct. The bike holts but you do not. You slide forward of the seat. Falling forward you try to use the handlebars for support but the entire bike tilts forward too. You have done this many times before and the bad instinct is balanced with a recovery instinct. You release the brakes and the bike moves forward. It is now in front of you, over the rock and you are able to hold the brakes again and use the now more stable bike to stop your forward falling. You stand there, breathing hard. You feel relieved and more alive than most mornings. You realize that the feeling of accomplishment and relief far outweigh the danger in that case. You are not tossing caution to the wind but you are relaxing some more. You start down the hill again. The roots tossing your bike around; the hill giving you speed; the rocks posing a challenge and with each that you ride over your excitement grows. You are doing Kamikaze Drop, and liking it! You see ahead that the end is near and you are not disappointed but feel proud of yourself and your bike. At the bottom you stop and look up, you conquered Kamikaze Drop. Riding off towards home you think one thing, tomorrow morning Kamikaze Drop gets a rematch, and I will conquer once again.
Copyright 2002 Avalanche - Outdoor Sports Online.