Mud, Sweat, and Gears
Last weekend, the weather here was pretty grizzly. We were expecting thunderstorms all day long. So we decided to pack up and head for better weather. Just kidding. I wish we could be so spontaneous. We had actually planned a trip to a nearby (as in a two hour drive) ATV park, it just worked out that we got to miss the rain back home. Over the years we have seen so many of our friends sell their ATVs because they just don't ride as much anymore. And I'm not going to lie, there are times when we find ourselves in the same rut. It's not that we don't want to ride, but sometimes it's hard getting out the door. Case in point, our trip last weekend seemed destined to fail from the start... We had this great plan to load everything up the night before, then head out the next morning when our furry alarm clocks got us up for breakfast. But it was the weekend, we were watching Lost on Amazon, and the day just got away from us. Since the park we were going to is only two hours away, we didn't worry too much about it. The next morning, Scott finished up some wiring on his new trailer, ran to the store for snacks, and picked up breakfast while I got the wheelers ready to load and packed some clean clothes. Looking back, it's hard to see how things went wrong. It all sounds pretty cut and dry. But the wiring took a little longer than expected. And when I was getting our bikes ready to load up, the boys kept barking. (Does anyone else have that problem? Seriously, if we are anywhere near our ATVs they go nuts.) We love our pups but it makes it so hard to concentrate. I don't usually ride Scott's bike, so I wasn't entirely sure how the reverse worked. By the time Scott got home and ready to load up we were both pretty stressed out. It was one of those moments I am sure all couples experience. You're both so on edge that it doesn't take much to spark an argument that ends with one or both of you throwing your hands in the air and refusing to do anything. Neither one of us remember much of the fight because it was so stupid. Don't believe me? Here are some of the highlights... Ham and Eggs, Cats and Dogs, Physics. But finally we both realized that we were each just on edge. We pulled it together, had a good laugh, and got out the door. Remember how I said the trip was only two hours? It took us four! A semi full of garbage had overturned on the highway just before we crossed the Missouri river. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the only other way to get across the river was several miles out of the way. There were no detour signs posted so by the time we figured out where we were going and got back on track, we were both starving. We stopped for a lunch, which did nothing to fill us up but took a big chunk of time, and hit the road again. We were trying our best to keep our spirits up, but obstacle after obstacle was really making it tough. Finally, we arrived and were elated to see this: We were the only people in the park. Suddenly all of the morning's trials were worth it. Just look at those smiling faces! So here comes a painful admission... We don't get to ride nearly as much as we'd like. I've mentioned before that Scott is a much more experienced rider than I am. (here, here if you're wondering.) So every year (since we get to ride even less in the winter), I go through kind of a warm-up period. I really need to work on this, since the last few years have really brought out the worst in me. I'm ashamed to admit that this year there were even a few tears. Let me explain. When we went out for the first time last year, I laid my bike on it's side right off the bat. My mind wasn't as focused as it should have been (I tend to start off with the mindset that I am driving a car) and while I wasn't moving fast by any means, I was going a bit too quick for where my mind was at the time. I wasn't hurt at all, but it was the first time anything like that has ever happened to me. Once I got it out of the way and talked with Scott about where my tires should be, the importance of being forceful with my handle bars, and taking it slower at first, I was totally fine and by the end of the day I was keeping up with no problem. This year I thought I was prepared. I thought that I would instantly remember everything from last year and learn from my mistakes. I was even kind of proud that I had experienced falling off my bike, thinking that it would make me braver and so it wouldn't happen again. What a dummy I was. Instead of magically being more experienced, once I got out there, I kept freezing. Everything had me scared. Tilting at even the slightest sideways angle had me terrified. At one point, I rolled backwards down a hill and sat sideways at the top of another hill. At an angle, which had me freaked out even more. I yelled for Scott and once I saw him promptly broke down into tears. I'd be lying if I said it was all due to the fear. Mostly, I was embarrassed. Especially given that I write about ATVs every week. I wish that I had some photos for this part (of the hills, not me!) but the blog was not high on my list of priorities. Fortunately for me, my husband is the most patient, non-judgmental person I know. He talked me through my fears and pointed out the areas I needed to focus on. Just like last year, it wasn't long before I was keeping up with him on the trails and moving up and down some pretty big hills without much difficulty. I really wish I had some photographic evidence of this, but we were both worried breaking out the camera might jinx me! And as for my fear of tilting to the side, I was even riding on two wheels at one point. By the end of the day, I was sporting a huge grin and some pretty nice mud sleeves. Seriously, if I were into tattoo sleeves (or tattoos at all), this would be it! There wasn't nearly as much mud in the park as we've seen in the past. In fact, we actually had to actively search for it. And we only got stuck once the whole day. And by stuck, I really just mean at one point Scott had to get off and push it out of the mud. We never even had to use the rope. Last year we didn't head back to the truck until dusk, but I couldn't resist splashing through the mud one last time. Not far from the gate, I slid sideways in a huge mud puddle and we didn't make it out until just at sunset. This year we thought we'd play it safe and head back a little early. Good thing too, because as we were headed back we noticed for the first time that there were whoops along the fence line. We could have played on them all day. With the willpower of a couple of four-year-olds, we ran through the whoops "one more time" about ten times before we headed back to the truck. When we finally got everything loaded back up, I couldn't resist the urge to snap this shot: Mostly because I snapped one just like it when I was talking about Scott's bike last week. You can read about that here. And now to quote Stan from South Park, "I learned something today." I learned that as adults we sometimes give up on doing activities that we love because it means putting work into planning, packing, and cleaning up. There are times when riding can seem like it's more trouble than it's worth. But for our family, it's important. I've said before that it's a huge team building exercise (here and here, and I'm sure a few other places as well). It's also great for your self-esteem. I know I felt a million times better about myself after I tackled a few hills and was zipping through the trails without any issues. Unless you're lucky enough to have an ATV park in your backyard, it does take some planning. But it's so much fun. We were like kids splashing in the mud and running through the whoops. Remember being a kid and spending all summer outside riding your bike and drinking from the hose? Spontaneous water fights and sticky popsicle hands? The hard truth about being an adult is that you have to work to recreate those feelings. So the next time you find yourself complaining about the work you have to put into riding, grow up and go act like a kid. Oh, and a few more words of wisdom... Remember our post about our beloved battery tender? Scott specifically mentioned that you could either bolt the connector to your battery or use the clamps each time. Guess who unplugged the battery tender but neglected to remove the clamps? I'll give you a hint: she's frequently shown in unflattering photos with awkward facial expressions. It's only June. Please forgive the pale skin. I've yet to figure out how I got mud all over my face. See the burn spot on the clamp? It was only when Scott was checking to see why his seat didn't fit quite right when we found it. Oops. So tell us what you think. Do you ever feel like riding is more work than it's worth? Do you ever panic during your first ride of the season? Anyone out there with a mud sleeve tattoo?