Monday, July 28, 2008

When We Come Together

When we come together, great things happen. This concept is difficult for a person of my type. I am an individualist. If you want it done right, do it yourself. I want things my way, when I want it, how I want it, instantly. I have no patience and zero tolerance for other's imperfections. Definitely a does not play well with others type.

Obviously this is nothing in which I take pride. However, like they say, if you want to see what a person's really made of, just put 'em in a pinch and squeeze. Don't squeeze me. Odds are, you will not get orange juice.

I have, however, made great strides in learning how to play well with others. Perhaps this is another aspect of mountain biking that has yielded me great dividends. You will not fit in well if you sing the mantra, "it's all about me." Quite the opposite of how I used to be. Riding by myself used to be my idea of a perfect day. Now, if I ride alone, all I have left at the end is a workout. Whereas, when I am surrounded by fellow cyclists, I am forced to look outside myself and focus somewhere other than.....on ME. I come away from my afternoon with so much more than just a workout. So much more.

One of the newest SORBA chapters, Paulding Sorba, had a trail work party in Dallas this weekend. Scott Martin, secretary of the new chapter, asked if I would take pictures of the event. When I met up with Scott, he was about to explode with excitement.

Simply because a group of people looked outside their own private universe to how they could impact the community, a wonderful thing occurred.(pictured: Scott, TJ, & Dave of Paulding Sorba, and Paul Richardson of Westridge Church)

But, I am getting ahead of myself in the story. Let me back up a few hours earlier to our Friday night. Friday night is planning time for the day's next ride. We wouldn't want to jump the gun and plan too far in advance. Raja wanted to get in some time on the road to get the legs ready for Switzerland. We keep saying that, but then.....something else always comes along to tempt us. The atl'rs were doing the Taylorsville Loop Saturday morning. That would be perfect since it is a good rolling route, and with a chance of rain we could get our ride done before the floodgates opened.

Most road rides are like that. Start at 8:00, done by 11:00. Simple, no assembly required, ride, then you're done, go home. We'd have the whole rest of the day to what? What would we do? Housework, shopping, sewing? I could take that time to download/upload zillions of pictures, except that I wouldn't have any pictures. There's not much in the way of photo taking on these rides. How many pictures can you take of the back of someone's wheel with no stunning mountain top views?

Nonetheless, that was still our plan for Saturday's ride as of 9:45 on Friday night. Then Raja notified me of our change of plans! He suddenly announced, "We're doing the mountain bike ride!" Somehow, deep inside, I knew he'd pull this on me. I was not surprised.

Secretly I was relieved he too wanted to do Plan B. I love my roadie friends, but as usual was not looking forward to the actual ride. The story always unfolds the same way. I can write the script, the names are just changed to protect the innocent. Group starts out together, stays together a little ways, pace picks up, Joe and Moe kick it up a notch and split up the pack, group is destroyed, demoralized and cramping, riders straggle back in broken pieces. It's always the same. No surprises.

On to Plan B. Our new mtn biking friend, Ony, was celebrating his birthday, and what better way to celebrate than with a mtn bike ride! Chickenlegs had unknowingly called out the cool kids to join him on a ride at Bear Creek and Pinhoti.
His ride became the official birthday ride. I don't think half of us even knew chickenlegs before this, but that never stops us from coming together. If you're a mountain biker, odds are we will all get along and have fun.

I scrambled to make a few changes to my prepacked biking bag, and hopped into bed. We would leave at 7am in order to get a little pre-riding done before the birthday goers arrived at the trail.

An hour before the crew's arrival, we slowly pedaled up the gravel road climb to the Overlook on Saturday morning. It was obvious we had made the right choice. Had we been on the road ride, our legs would not have stepped up to the plate, and we would have been punished severely. It would have been just another demoralizing day on the bike. Instead, we could look forward to spending the day playing around with our friends in a beautiful setting with a little workout thrown in for good measure.

Do not tell me this area is suffering from a drought. Plenty of rain has obviously fallen here.

It was like a scene out of "Field of Dreams".

It does not take much to amuse us, as we laughed and giggled our way through the weeds and creeks.

With the humidity at its usual 150%, you could cut through the air with a knife.

Making our way up Bear Creek was like riding through an enchanted forest. It is so lush and green. And dark........a photoninja's nemesis. Ony leads the way as we climbed our way up through the black forest to the Overlook.

Robb was there, riding the purdy Pink Evolve. This time he got to ride the entire time with us. No mechanical failures were on today's agenda.
Yes, this ride was quite the opposite of my adventure from last Saturday. Today was about stretching yourself a little bit, but mainly just about having a good time.

If we wanted to ride slow as a turtle, we could. This was no race. It was about coming together to celebrate a life, Ony's Life! In fact, we stopped to play with a turtle and spread the joy.

Everytime I see a turtle, it makes me think of our friend, Gerry. Gerry was a shredder when we met him 18 years ago, and he's still a shredder today. Nothing would stop Gerry quicker than an animal in the road. We could be hammering at 34mph in a pack of 50 riders with nothing to slow us down. Then we'd all swerve to avoid a turtle in the road, and we knew Gerry was going to stop and move that turtle.

I will never forget a mtn bike ride with his wife, Meg. We saw a turtle burying its eggs just on the edge of the trail. Meg felt that location was much too dangerous and insisted we move the eggs to safer ground before carrying on with our ride. These are the things I remember from my rides. I couldn't tell you (and I don't care) how many races I've won, but I can tell you loads of heartwarming stories from all the fun rides we've done with our friends.

The forecast was for a chance of rain, and it sure looked the part. We managed to escape the rain for the ride. (It poured afterwards while we were all safely indoors enjoying a delicious Mexican Fiesta.)

At least the clouds created a dramatic backdrop for our efforts of climbing to the Overlook. Only Joel, Ony's brother, was disappointed in the view;-) I think he wanted something more along the lines of Mt.Everest.

We went back down Bear Creek and climbed up and over on Pinhoti 1 and 2. This was Ony's first time here, and he had a huge grin on his face after the P2 downhill. For the first time ever, Raja had a grimace on his face after the downhill. Unfortunately, he had to pull off a high speed wild maneuver, and shoulder blocked a tree. Now he has a complete set of bumps and bruises to go with last wkd's Bear Hare crash:(

It was a successful day nonetheless, celebrating with friends that share a common passion; mountain biking. Raja had made the right call on our ride for the day, and it all came together in perfect harmony!

We were pretty beat that evening after 30 miles and just shy of 4 hrs ride time. So much for an easy day! Fun, but not necessarily easy!
Happy Birthday, Ony!

Bright and early at 8am on a Sunday morning, 50 volunteers were already working in the woods at Sara Babbs park in Dallas. I had begrudgingly dragged my lazy body out of bed at 7am, at which these workers were already at the trail site getting assignments. I arrived late, but Scott came bounding out of the woods to greet me. We stood on one of the 2 bridges the volunteers had built the day before. "We had over 70 folks out here yesterday," Scott was beaming as he told me of all the progress made.

Secretly I was glad not to be a newspaper reporter, because I would never have gotten all the information down. He spouted out facts, reports, and stories faster than I could digest. It was all because people had come together. It was not one individual. It was teamwork, each person joining in together to form a chain not easily broken.

My task was hardly work at all, and I was ashamed for selfishly sleeping in like I did. I thoroughly enjoyed walking the trail, seeing the fruits of their labor, and observing the humble workers in action.

Children, parents, teens, mountain bikers, all walks of life were represented.

In fact, most people here were not cyclists at all. Many of the volunteers were from an outreach group from 9 local churches. This really spoke to my heart to see people with no vested interest in riding, yet giving of their time and effort for others. Coming together, seeing the bigger picture, selfless.

If I had not come I would have missed out on an unexpected treat. One of the volunteers was a friend from college days, 25 years ago! This was turning out to be a really special morning for me. Humbled, I quietly took it all in while pondering the great lesson just from the simplicity of all.

Paul Richardson, the pastor of outreach at Westridge Church, was a key player for getting together this group of volunteers. He stopped by to check it all out. He walked the entire trail, shaking hands with everyone along the way. I was so thrilled to watch all this unfold.

My dear friend, Steve, of which we have known for almost 20 years, was there. He is one of the pioneers of trail building and advocacy in the Southeast, and to which we owe a great deal. It was special for me to see him in his element and to reflect back on the years passed. Twenty years ago, none of us had any idea what we were doing in regards to sowing seeds for the future. We just rode our bikes and followed Steve wherever he led. How neat to see how far he has come in his persistence and efforts, and how he has changed his world. A world of which we are a part. I am so honored.

Dave is another pioneer that stands out from the crowd. We only met him a couple years ago, but have seen the incredible progress made with his hard work and selfless dedication. Dave does not need to speak before a crowd, his actions speak louder than words.

Paulding Sorba has a bright future ahead with leaders of this caliber. It's not the ones with a silver tongue that impress me. It's the quiet people, working hard until the job is done. What's even more impressive is that for all the work Steve and Dave put in, they can still leave just about anyone in their dust on a bike. They can back it up, man, whatever they say, they can back it up!

Our world now is so very different from when we started in mtn biking's infancy. I often sit back to watch and observe the younger riders of today, wondering what challenges will shape them and what their actions will prove 15 years down the road. Which ones will be the ones to make a real difference, be our leaders, our movers and shakers? (pictured: Bruce, Derek, Scott, Steve, Tom) We all make a difference in our own little way, but there is always the one or two that stand out of the crowd. Is one of them in our midst now? I sure hope so.

This isn't a rad trail for all the hammerhead mtn bikers to show their tricks. Families and kids are the focus of this course. The trail is pancake flat, and suitable for training wheels if need be! They will have a place to come and experience the outdoors and hopefully fall in love with the sport that has shaped and formed our lives for the better.

Mountain biking is one arena where I have learned the importance of coming together, working with each other and not against. Everytime we all join forces, something good is bound to happen!


jay said...

I. Love. That. Ellsworth.

Ok maybe that's a bit dramatic. But really, that looks wonderful.

Great pictures, great blog.

James Bigler said...

I love the picture of the rider approaching the summit for the overlook. Thanks for all of your hard work on your blog. It makes me smile every time I read your posts.

Robb Sutton (198) said...

Great post Mama! are starting to make it an art form just like your pictures.

Good thing Project Pink didn't fail me on this ride. I was not leaving another ride early!

Glad you guys came out instead of riding on the road.