The first time I rode in American Fork Canyon was with Bevan Erickson. Bevan and I grew up together in California, and we were both in the Provo area during college. He had ridden the Ridge 157 trail a few times and raved about how great it was. It was an overcast day, and we were hit with low clouds and rain, making the trail a muddy mess. I had clipless pedals at the time, which means my shoes had cleats that clipped in to the pedals, attaching me to the bike. Road bikes use clipless pedals to maximize pedal stroke effort. It takes a while to get used to it, but it makes a difference in pedal stroke and control. The trail got so muddy that I couldn’t clip my shoes in to the pedals. When I finally did, I couldn’t get out. I actually spun out at one point and fell over, so Bevan had to come help me get back up, shoes and pedals still welded together in mud and grime. As we took the cut off to Tibble Fork Resevoir, we hit a section with 2-3 foot drops, landing in rock gardens. It was the opposite of my ideal landing, but the rain and mud made my caliper brakes fail. I had the choice of walking miles back to the car or taking a chance and jumping the drops, hoping I wouldn’t crash. I didn’t crash on any of the drops, but it scared the hell out of me. I haven’t ridden that trail much since then, because I prefer the cut off that goes to Cascade Springs, but my current bike and I could take those drops all day. I was a new rider and didn’t have any suspension, so I was riding beyond my skill level that day. Now I love drops like that. I am a better rider for that experience, even though I didn’t enjoy it at the time.
Life has a funny way of pushing us beyond our current capacities. We overcome obstacles or trials that seem to be crushing us at the time, but we emerge stronger. I am a stronger rider and a stronger person for the experiences I have overcome, and the ones that have beat me. I needed help getting up when I crashed, but Bevan was there to help me. We need good people around to help us when we fall, and we just keep jumping until we get to the end of the trail.