As much as I love to be active, there’s a part of me that would really prefer to lay on the couch all day. That part of me was screaming when we decided to try mountain biking for the first time in Jasper National Park several years ago.
Fortunately for me, I was still shooting with my PowerShot G3 at the time, which weighed approximately 1/3 what my current camera with a wide angle lens would weigh.
When the locals we talked to assured us that there was a “super easy” trail just outside of town that was only 10 miles long, I imagined it would take about an hour to cruise around this loop trail. I planned for us to take it easy, stopping for a picnic lunch by a lake and having a leisurely day. As we headed out for the trail, I wondered what we would do the rest of the afternoon.
When we got to the trailhead, we found if we went to the South, it looked flat. If we went North, it was a very steep climb right from the start. We, naturally, went South. Of course, after about 100 yards, the trail turned uphill and we began the most painful climb of our lives. Painful for two reasons: first, our lungs (and every muscle in our bodies) were burning trying to keep the bikes moving up and over roots, rocks, bumps, and pot holes as we climbed. Second, we were crawling along at such a slow pace that the plentiful mosquitos were keeping up with us.
When we encountered objects beyond our skill level to get over or around, we fell over. Once we fell over, we had to push the bike along until we got to a flat enough place to get started again.
I pushed the bike up a hill at a run with my rain jacket on and the hood up trying to get away from the mosquitos. I’ve been riding bikes a long time. I’m pretty sure that “riding” doesn’t mean taking your bike out for a run.
After stopping for a quick lunch (due to the mosquitos) in a spot where we could watch loons on a lake, we turned around and started heading downhill back home. We came to a screeching halt when Pat spotted a black bear peeking at us from behind a shrub. Eventually, the bear figured out we were humans and took off. We went on our way singing loudly in the hope of scaring the bear away (anyone who has heard me sing would appreciate how effective this would be).
Then, we out-peddled the mosquitos and discovered how much fun mountain biking is when you’re going downhill! Much better than laying on the couch. Going up, not so much.
When at last we arrived back home, over 3 hours had passed in spite of our brief lunch. We both needed a nap–the perfect time to hit the couch.