Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Day My Husband Tried to Kill Me, or ...

I am Woman Hear Me Roar, or … Help! I’m Having a Midlife Crisis. I’ll let you decide.

I’m relatively athletic and like to try new things. Last summer I knee-boarded behind a ski boat, and this past winter I snowboarded for the first time, and I enjoyed both experiences. My husband’s been trying to get me to mountain bike with him for years. It’s not literally “mountain” biking, we have no mountains in Minnesota, but it’s off-road, dirt track stuff. Like this picture on the left. He bought me this great bike and put shocks on both the seat post and the front frame, so why I’d been avoiding it, I wasn’t sure.

This past weekend, my husband got smart and put my son on it. “Mom, you want to go mountain biking today?” It was 88 degrees in the shade. I should have passed.

We went to Lebanon Hills in Eagan that has bike trails specifically designed for off-road bikers of varying skill levels, but all of it’s tough. We’re talking 6 miles of tight turns, log rolls, and rock gardens. Turns out I’ve got pretty good intuition about this whole mountain biking business.

When I came to this first group of rocks, I managed the first part, but after taking that right turn, I “took a header” over a boulder in the middle and smashed my knee up nicely.

This is me after finishing the trail. You can't see it, but I'm dirty as heck, my shoulders, my legs. And yep, that’s blood on my left knee. After 6.1 miles of that stuff, my bruises are sporting bruises.

But I’m stubborn. For anyone who doesn’t know me, really stubborn. I hadn’t broken anything yet, so if my twelve year old son could do it, I could do it. I successfully navigated my first log roll and gained some confidence, tried a couple beginner challenging things, and walked over some of it, but by the time I finished, I felt like queen of the world. Well, at least a princess.

At my son’s urging, and feeling the drag of my upcoming 45th birthday, I went out again the next day. This time to Theodore Wirth park and a trail so narrow there literally wasn’t room for handlebars between the tree trunks at several spots. But I did it. I actually stayed on my bike, fitting my right handlebar past one tree trunk, my left through the next, while moving forward slowly. I wouldn’t have been able to do this trail if not for the experience the day before. I only walked through two spots.

So today’s my birthday, and I’ve got a big scab on my left knee and too many bruises on my arms and legs to count. To be honest, I’m getting too old for this crap. Help!

Does anyone have any great-safe-ideas for keeping those youthful vibes alive? For staying vital? Then again, what about suggestions for accepting life's natural course and aging gracefully? What tried and true methods do you use for getting through the birthday blues?


Betina Krahn said...

Kudos, Helen, onyour willingness to risk life and limb to stay vital and fit! You're a better woman than I am.

At 46 and a new widow, I thought I'd take up scuba diving. After investing in enough equipment to float a third world economy, I took lessons in Florida and found that I was so buoyant, I needed 18 pounds of lead in my weight belt to allow me to get anywhere near the bottom!!! I felt like the Michelin Man's plump older sister! I decided to stay on the top and snorkle. Better yet. . . to just move to Flordia and float around in my own pool sipping mimosas.

Yeah. Now that's something to beat the birthday blues!

Helen Brenna said...

Scuba diving's something I've never done, Betina. Moving to Florida would be tough with my husband's job and kids still in school, but mimosas ... I can do that!

anne frasier said...

very cool, helen!

10 years ago i might have tried the mountain bike thing. now i'm afraid i'd leave a trail of body parts behind me. my own body parts. :(

to get over the birthday blues: a fifth of vodka. no, chocolate cake! yes. chocolate always helps in any situation.


Helen Brenna said...

Thanks, Anne! Chocolate's always a given. My husband brought home some sweet thing from Lunds.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I don't do bikes with handbrakes, not since I went flying over the handlebars when I was about 10. I prefer horses. Much safer. But these days I'm wearing a charming helmet, much like yours. Must protect the imagination.

Happy birthday, kid!

Anonymous said...

Hey there auntie! Brian here. I can't seem to get an email to get through to you, so I'll try this. For all to see. Nothing personal here, it's cool. I think. Original message follows.

Hey, I wrote you an email about a week or two ago.
But I don't know if it got sent or not...I used the
Microsoft Outlook email editor. That usually doesn't
work, I guess.

Anyway, I checked the website and it's really well
done! No nonsense, just what you need to know. Not

I also read the excerpt of your writing...excellent.
Excellent use of modifiers. I dig. Or dug actually.
It was a while ago that I read it.

It was great to see you and the family this summer.
Tell the rest of the crew I said hi too. And Dylan
must be a brave kid to be mountain biking at his age.
I just went for the second time recently, and it can
be pretty intimidating to weave through trees and over
rocks like that.

Well, I've got Bob Barker calling my name. And A NEW
TRUUUCCKKK!!!! A Ford Ranger. Oh boy! Talk to you
soon. Professional signature to follow.

Brian J. Twomey
Student, University of Oklahoma
1411 Lincoln Ave.
Norman, OK 73072

Anonymous said...

and happy birthday!