Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chicken Descents

Photo credit: Simple Life Journey
As a child I was a cautious rider. I bypassed the dirt hill jumping that the neighborhood boys delighted in, coming back scraped and bruised, proudly wearing a smile. I cruised with friends, up and down driveways, back and forth on the dead end road. I never purposely skidded like many children, testing brakes, seeing who could lay the longest black line on the asphalt. Then, I was more like my oldest boy, enjoying the outdoors as opposed to my younger son who will ride a skateboard headfirst down the hill in front of our home, just for the thrill. I cringe at the thought.

And so my tentative physical personality carried over into adulthood. I tried rock climbing, but didn't like the concentration it required. Wedging fingers and feet into tight, knuckle scraping cracks and hanging from ledges wasn't my idea of exercise. Or fun. Cycling aside, I love hiking, cross country/back country skiing, and swimming. They can be solitary endeavors or shared with a friend. It's not competitive. It can be as difficult or  as easy as you define, all within the realm of individual comfort.

All this brings me back to my big outdoor love: riding a bike. Over the years and thousands of miles I've ridden—across the country and around the world—I'm a chicken on descents. I dislike screaming downhill. Tried it, yes, but it's rationale escapes me. I can only go as fast as I am capable of stopping or slowing within a reasonable amount of time. People pass me. All the time. I can't handle the speed, for fear of toppling out of control on an unforeseen crack, dead animal, sandy shoulder—whatever. And the fear of a car zipping dangerously close just as I'm flying, well, that would put me over the edge.

So if you pass me on a hill, I'll be the one gingerly pumping the brakes.
So be it.


  1. I like gettIng up a bit of speed going downhill but I have to feel safe, if it is too steep I am holding the brakes on for all I am worth I am afraid.

  2. Nothing wrong with that. My motto, better safe than sorry. I like some speed on some down- hills, and the yippee ... whee! factor, but always with full-on focus and concentration.

  3. I am normally pretty conservative, but, on descents, I can feel the spread of a 'beserker' grin and caution goes out of the window a little. If they ever pick me up out of a ditch it will be on a descent. I'm not silly though.

  4. I'm with ya on this one. Western NC has some long, steep descents. Disc brakes on road bikes = best idea ever.


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