Monday, July 11, 2011

ON the Beaten Path!

Now that summer is here, being a teacher, you’d think I’d have lots of free time, but in reality, I have no time. Without a schedule to stick to, hours (and days) just seem to disappear. So it came as quite a shock when someone pointed out that I was two weeks behind on my blog. Of course the most shocking part was that someone would actually notice my absence, but it was also rather concerning that I could lose track of so much time.

Not that I haven’t been busy. I run a movie making camp, which takes up a lot of my time. And with my son no longer in day care, keeping up with him keeps me quite occupied. But there is still no excuse for not finding half an hour to come up with a blog post. Perhaps the biggest problem is nothing really exciting has happened recently.  Sure, my book made a run at the Top 100 last week, and both the Michael Franti concert and Pickin’ & Fiddlin’ Festival were fun, but nothing blog worthy. You know, like Jell-O or the blemish on my big toe!

My big story so far, as far as you people go (since you seem to revel in my misfortune) would be the trouble I had blazing a bike trail. You see, my town is in the process of building a beautiful recreation path, which just so happens to connect several of my favorite off-road mountain bike trails. Except in one spot. And I thought it would be cool to make my own.

Well, we all know what happened to Thought* and so far, I’ve done major bodily harm THREE times in the exact same spot (well, spot on the trail, not my body!) The first, and most painful, came when I was building an “up and over” that would let me ride over a very large tree that had fallen. The tree had taken out several others in the area, so there were plenty of logs lying around to make ramps on both sides, and in less then fifteen minutes, I was done with the first side. But when I tried to test it out, I was nearly decapitated by a large dead branch that was hanging above the log.  Since it was four feet over my head, it wasn’t noticeable from the ground. But standing and peddling to get over the log brought me face to face with it. So I dismounted and rather than let my hard work go to waste, decided I would climb the tree, walk out onto the dead branch and bounce on it until it broke.

Now, I’m not a complete idiot – there was another, more solid branch about waist high above the dead one, so I placed most of my weight on that branch and figured I could hold on to it when the one below me broke. Three bounces later, I heard a loud snap, and suddenly I was falling.

I slammed onto the branch pretty much on my armpits, and frantically flailed my logs trying to wrap them around the tree koala-style, so as to not fall the ten feet into poison ivy and prickers. Somehow I managed to hang on and shimmy down the tree,  and with my underarms scraped and burning, continued on my ride.

I got home to find HUGE bruises on the underside of both arms, and lots of scrapes that made deodorant application rather painful for the next few days.And I couldn’t really turn my neck to the right all that well. But other than that, I was fine, and two days later I was ready to go back and finish the job.

Back at the tree, I needed to build the off ramp, and saw some nice dead logs on the other side (including the one I had “liberated”) which I put to immediate use.  I did my best to stay clear of the plentiful poison ivy, and quickly had my ramp built. This time when I tested it out, I nearly went over the handle bars, as the down ramp ended too abruptly. I needed one more log to lengthen the angle. So I got off the bike and tried to lift a log that I had earlier deemed too heavy.

It was fairly rotted, but wet, so when I went to pick it up, it broke about a quarter of the way down – which was perfect, since it was the exact length I needed. Problem is, some bees had already claimed the log as their own, and I was soon swarmed by the angry hive I have disturbed. Five painful stings later, I was back on my bike, continuing my ride while nursing my wounds and cursing my luck. And bees in general.

The next day, I went back, hit the log at full speed, went up and over perfectly, pedaled past the still swarming bees, splashed across a river, and was back on the main trail. Huzzah. Success. I had did it. I patted myself on the back for my perseverance and pedaled on. I returned home sweaty and happy. And itchy. Apparently I was not careful enough around the poison ivy and ended up with it all over my arms and legs.

So, in summation, one stiff neck, two bruised and battered arms, three days of working, four itchy limbs and five bee stings later, I had my trail – and the start of my own Christmas carol. Was it worth it? Probably not. But I have plenty of summer days left to heal and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Plus I’ll never have to wonder about the path not taken.

Speaking of new paths, my friend Amy is looking to branch out a bit, so I offered her a Guest Blogger slot for Thursday, so be sure to check her out. Hopefully she will have better luck than me!

* "Thought though he had to fart, but he shit his pants instead!" - my mom


  1. I figure that if God wanted me to bike in the woods, he would have put pavement there.

  2. Chris might be the smartest friend you have. Also, if teachers were meant to accomplish anything in the summer, school would be 12 months a year. :)