Recently, I took my friend, Nate, on a dual sport bike ride in the Badlands of Utah. Nate had ridden street bikes but had no off road riding experience. He was, however, a very skilled mountain bike rider, so I figured he would catch on quickly. After a 30 minute riding lesson in the parking lot, we took off on some easy roads. Thanks to his mountain biking skills, Nate had good body mechanics and a head space for riding in challenging terrain.
Before long, we were on more technical trails and headed up over a huge ridge. To summit the ridge we had to ride through a few miles of deep sand. Nate was struggling on the heavy dual sport in the sand, so about a mile in I stopped and suggested we turn back. I started to offer some off road guiding wisdom about risk and knowing when to turn back before things start going bad, creating a domino effect, blah, blah, blah. While I was waxing caution, Nate interrupted my speech with a slap on the shoulder, and said, “Andy, if we don’t keep going, how are we going to have an adventure?” Inspired by his enthusiasm, I agreed, and we pressed on.
Nate did a great job managing the sand and making it to the top. As we got off our bikes to enjoy the view, I noticed my rear tire was flat. So I jokingly pointed out to Nate that had he listened to my advice and turned back when I suggested, I probably wouldn’t have a flat tire. I also reminded him of my domino theory.
We pulled the rear tire and propped my bike up by resting the skip plate on top of my helmet. While I was trying to get the tire off the rim, my bike suddenly fell over. At this point details are sketchy. Nate swears he was helping hold the tire and accidentally backed into my bike. I’m pretty sure I saw him just lounging with a drink in hand while leaning on my bike. We still dispute this detail, but one fact wasn’t in dispute: my bike was on the ground with a broken front brake lever. With a long down hill descent ahead of us and no front brake, I couldn’t resist the urge to mention a second domino had just fallen.
We patched the tube, installed the tire on the bike, and began our ride down off the ridge. As we started our descent, I was focusing on grabbing what was left of the front brake lever stub with my finger. However, my focus started to shift to my forehead; it was itching. No, it’s burning. What the heck? My forehead is on fire!
I stopped and hopped off the bike to see what was wrong with my noggin. As it turned out, when my bike fell over on top of my helmet, gas from the carburetor leaked down my helmet and soaked into the padding. With a chapped forehead, I began to explain my domino theory to Nate again. He just smiled and said, “Now you have a story to tell.” I couldn’t help but laugh. He was right! We told that story several times over the next day to our friends. And here I am, telling it again!
A Good Story
As an off road moto tour guide, I tend to evaluate riding situations conservatively – either because I’m looking out for my clients’ safety or because I’m off exploring remote areas by myself. Being conservative is a good thing, and I highly recommend paying attention to that feeling in your gut that is warning you to proceed with caution. On the other hand, Nate’s adventurous promptings reminded me that most fun and memorable adventures involve some pressing in to uncomfortable situations. It also reminded me about my own journey when I left my comfortable corporate career to start an outdoor adventure company called RockyTrax. There were many occasions when I was tempted to turn back, but my inner spirit said, “Keep going. There’s an adventure ahead!”
I’m so glad I listened to that voice that said “keep going”. I’m glad I put my trust and my plans in the Lord’s hands. He has been so faithful to me, my family, and this new business. Adventure guiding and exploring new routes in the mountains has been a fantastic adventure with many stories to tell. Thanks Nate for reminding me of this important lesson!