By Paul Berglund
Guys do stupid things. That never changes. I would imagine women do stupid stuff too, but if I would listen to my wife, guys do the majority of it. It used to be we could hang around with our friends, do stupid things and the only proof of it would be the stories that our friends would tell. That and scars. Things have changed, we all have cameras with us. So when I wipe out on my dirt bike, you can whip out your phone and have a picture of the crash scene posted on Facebook before I even pick my bike up. Don’t do that.
Yes, you can take a picture, and yes you can show it to the other guys we are riding with, but what happens on the trail should stay on the trail. Dirt bikes can be expensive, medical bills are much more costly. Your need to twitter and post about my lack of skill jeopardizes my freedom to ride. I must live with She Who Angers Easily. If you show her proof of my stupidity, she will question why a 56 year old man should be riding a dirt bike. I don’t want my wife to look at my bike dripping mud and swamp juice on the garage floor and see a threat to her husbands well being. I need her to see my dirt bike as just another thing I do that annoys her. Not something that endangers my life.
I’ve worked hard at not limping, not grimacing when I lift my arm higher than my waist or whimpering of any kind when my wife comes out to watch us unload the trailer after a ride. I’ll tell her that the ride was great (it was) and we had a great time (we did). She doesn’t need to hear all the details. She will sleep better at night knowing that I’m out having fun and getting some much needed exercise. Hearing who crashed into what or how epic that jump was just starts her thinking down the wrong path. Keep the stories light and happy boys.
Most of my riding friends live in Saint Paul like I do. All the trails we ride are north of Hinckley or south of Red Wing. That’s a two hour drive back from the trail which ever way we go. Use that time to get all your story telling out of your system. Show all the pictures you want, because when we get to my house, you’d better have only nice things to say. If you squeal on me, you won’t be invited back.
Trail riding isn’t all that dangerous. You can go about it at a slow pace and watch the beautiful scenery roll past. If you remain up right, the worst you’ll bring home is a sun burned nose or a stiff muscle or two. Don’t call attention to broken bits on your body or bike and things at home will remain serene. We will keep our bikes, bandage our bruises and ride on. There are those among us who must excel. Must strive ever forward and push the envelope. That’s great when you’re young.
We are not young, and we had a traitor among us. He had been watching motorcycle videos on U-Tube and discovered Motocross. His passions were inflamed. We had to ride on a motocross track! Fine. “I’ll go with you.” I grimly told him.
The skill set for motocross is similar to trail riding with the terrifying addition of jumping. Motocross tracks are set up in a way that it’s difficult to go slow. You can’t putt putt around. You have to gas it and go. The steepness of the ramp up means the speed you need to make it to the top, guarantees that you’ll be airborne when you get there. I made three crude laps and pulled off the track. I had only been riding a few minutes, but it felt like three hours of trail riding. The skills are similar but you expend ten times the energy. I’m not exaggerating. Motocross riding is a total body work out. I did fall down twice, but no harm was done in the fall. It was the riding that was pounding me into submission. We’d ride a few laps and take a break. This went on for about two hours. After 15 laps or so, we were spent. No one wanted to be the first to give up. Luckily, one of us crashed and broke his clutch lever mount. My eyes were filled with tears when he announced he couldn’t ride any more and suggested we go get pie. We all whimpered quietly as we struggled to load our bikes on the trailer.
The pie shop was closed when we got there. We silently ate hamburgers in the bar next door. Mr. Broken Lever asked if anyone had some Advil. No one did. Our fries were extra salty that day as we wept over our lunch. I had to drive his truck as Mr. Broken Lever tried to sleep on the way home. His bruised limbs twitched like a dog dreaming of squeals as he lay in a fetal position in the back seat. The Instigator of this mayhem, sat mute and motionless next to him. He had brought this upon us.
My wife did not see our sad return. She was in the house and didn’t see me hobble to unload my bike or wobble to park my trailer. She didn’t see Mr. Broken Lever take two attempts to get back into his truck. She didn’t hear the Instigator’s phone call to his chiropractor. We had gotten away with it. I sat in our recliner all evening. I waited till she went to bed before I dragged my failing legs up the stairs. My only mistake was while reaching for my second helping of Tylenol. I accidentally asked, “Honey, do we have any morphine?”. She didn’t hear me over the TV.