Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekend Report: What's the worst that could happen? (Dirt Biking Edition)

I'm not even kidding guys – I went dirt biking this weekend! Are you horrified by the prospect of my pedestrian self controlling any vehicle? Terrified by the thought of me riding a 250-lb. motorcycle on grass and asphalt and dirt and through puddles and around turns and curves and banked curves??? Me too...but it was so much fun!

Saturday morning my friend Andy and I left DC early to drive to the great state of New Jersey. We escaped the city and had a lovely car ride (trip theme songs: this and this).

We stopped off in Andy's college town (New Brunswick) for some stromboli from Stuff Yer Face, and I’m not going to lie, it was pretty amazing. Stromboli, for those of you who don’t know (I didn’t) is like a cross between and sandwich and a calzone – i.e. sooo good.

Then on to Somerville, where we met Andy’s friends, loaded dirt bikes onto trailers, and headed to some trails for Operation Mollie Learns To Dirt Bike (there will be practical application for this…details to come!).

The good news is that I had three very good teachers. The bad news is that we had a quad and two racing dirt bikes, i.e. waaaay harder to ride than pretty much anything else. I started on the quad to learn the clutch and gears situation (I don’t know how to drive manual so teach me like I’m a little bit stupid please!), and oooh man guys it was FUN.

(Keep in mind that I used to be a downhill ski racer, so though it’s been buried under years of distance running, there’s still a little bit of fearlessness in me…I really like adrenaline and speed a lot.)

I moved up to a dirt bike, which was hard, but not as hard as I expected! I drove in a straight line a few times, then progressed to practicing turning. The tricky part was that I was learning on a big dirt bike, so getting on was a bit challenging, and I couldn’t stop without falling over. Also I was very very very thoroughly warned that if I pulled back on the throttle too hard the bike would literally shoot into the air. Ummm no thanks!

Once I felt comfortable turning left in a parking lot, we headed over to the trails for some real dirt biking. It had poured on Friday night, which meant MUD!

The trails were a lot harder than the parking lot and turns are HARD. The one I was practicing on was banked and sharp – definitely not a beginner turn. The first time I went over the bank and crashed because I wasn’t turning enough. The second time I crashed because I was going too slow. The third time was a combination of the two. The fourth time I psyched myself up to do it right, went in with more speed, leaned into the turn, and almost made it until the very end when everything went disastrously wrong. The bike landed on me, and the pedal went into my foot (I was wearing hiking boots, but still) – OUCH!

(Not me, obviously. But that's the end of the turn!)
I took a breather, considered my options (quitting or winning), and got back on. Now things were personal – I had to make it around that turn. And I did! I rode around in figure-8s for a while  – around that turn (#win), over a jump (don’t worry I was not getting any air), around another sharp turn sans bank, and back to do it all again.

(Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of me actually on a dirt bike...but I was a bit distracted by the actual riding part.)

We drove back to DC that night, tired and dirty but pretty happy about the whole experience. Unfortunately my foot was not so good on Sunday...but nothing a bucket of ice and a cupful of fro-yo won't fix! Plus I get to tell people I hurt myself dirt biking, which sounds sooo much cooler than telling people I hurt myself running relatively slowly in a straight line (as my injuries usually are).