There I was, standing at the top of the hill holding my banana seat bike next to me. Lined with cape style houses, that hill was about to become my glory road. See, I had a plan.
I was going to ride down the hill with no hands. But it didn’t stop there because I was going to stand on the banana seat and then let go of the handlebars. Essentially, I wanted to ‘surf’ down the hill on my bike.
In my mind, this was totally plausible. I had taught myself how to ride without hands, how to ride crouched on the seat, and I wanted to combine the two into one spectacular skill.
I shoved off and started down the blacktop. I got my feet up under my butt and crouched on the seat. I slowly let go of the handlebars and for a moment I surfed. Hair in the wind, my clothes flapping in the breeze, I was the only kid ‘bike surfing’ on the planet.
It still puzzles me today that I was surprised when I fell off the bike. I lost my balance and crashed hard into the pavement. From elbow to wrist, my right arm was a scraped bloody mess and I ended up in a neighbor’s grassy front yard. Somehow I made it home, but I don’t remember much about the incident beyond my bloody arm (which only made me cooler and tougher) and the moment when I actually surfed.
Once upon a time, I was a bit of a daredevil.
This past weekend I went downhill skiing. My friend Becca and I had grand plans for a fun afternoon on the slopes. We paid a lot of money for it. After the two hour lift ticket and rentals, I was out $50, but it would be worth it. Right?
I hadn’t gone downhill skiing in over ten years, so I did have my reservations. We made our way to the bunny hill. There was a group of little toddlers there, their stubby legs struggling to move in the skis. It was a class for little kids and they were swarming the rope tow to the top of the bunny hill. Far be it for my friend and I, both in our 20s, to crush toddlers on our way to the top of the bunny hill, so we set our sights on the “half” mountain trail.
I was feeling all right about everything until sitting on the chair lift. We swung back and forth a couple times, going up up up. My anxiety directly related to our altitude as I watched the distance grow between my skis and the snow beneath us. The bench was short underneath our legs and nothing to keep us from falling. Thankfully Becca spotted and pulled down the bar to keep us safe(r) on the lift. My fear surprised me.
I’ve always been able to go on amusement park rides or airplanes without fear. But on the chairlift I kept visualizing the headline: Death at West Mountain: skier plunges from chairlift.
I fell getting off the chairlift. Twice. Geez.
By the end of the day I believe I set two West Mountain records. #1. Longest hateful glare down the mountain from the top, #2. Slowest ride to the bottom. I did not make any “swishing” noises or make any graceful snake shaped groves in the snow. My self-confidence was approximately 7% by the end of the day (that 7% comes from knowing I make a mean lasagna).
I struggled to articulate to my friend what my problem was. Becca is the type to start skiing without many reservations and said, “Well, I figured that I would just go because it wasn’t like I was going to die or anything.” Where we differed was that I felt as though death was a possibility if I were to hurl my body over the edge of a mountain.
The girl who surfed down a blacktop hill on a banana seat bike was MIA at West Mountain. She faded into oblivion sometime over the last 15 years. I can’t say that I miss her too much, though she did have some cool scrapes and bruises.