Notes from the Trail: Tunnel Hill State Trail
This series, Notes from the Trail, focuses on thoughts and events that happen with the interactions in nature. These “notes” are usually written on the trail where insight can be at its highest.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I sit here with my back propped on a tree near a picnic table at Tunnel Hill. I have been waiting for nearly an hour. Waiting for my fellow bikers that I had originally started the day with. I still may have another half hour to go. I occasionally catch wiffs of the restroom behind me. I have broke out my journal and thought I would tell the story of why I am here.
After a week of changing inner tubes and adjusting brakes, we were finally ready to hit the trail this Sunday. The weather was perfect with temperatures in the mid-60′s with a slight breeze. The sun was out and high upper clouds wisped by. We had decided to start at Vienna, because there is a slight incline to Tunnel Hill. This would mean a slight decline coming back when our energy would be at its lowest, thus allowing us to peddle with less effort.
The Vienna to Tunnel Hill section of the Tunnel Hill State Trail has been called the most scenic and I would definitely agree. This section has several trestles that cross high above a winding creek. Our plans were for a leisurely ride. We had brought snacks and water and away we went. Wildflowers lined the trail and the air was fragrant with the blooming bushes and trees. We easily pushed the first three miles past us, in a slow steady pace. Soon we were entering into sections of blasted rock and more scenic trestles. The largest trestle came into view Breeden Trestle which spans 450 feet and rises to a height of 90 feet. We knew from here we were only 2.5 mile from Tunnel Hill. After gazing down at this massive steel structure we continued on.
After awhile, I noticed that my sister-in-law was a little behind me so I shifted into a lower gear so she could catch up. As soon as I shifted I heard my bike chain come off. This was nothing unusual, because it has come off on earlier outings. I got off my bike and looked down to put back on the chain when I noticed my rear derailleur was in my spokes. This was not a good place for this piece of metal. I tried to figure out just what had happened. As I was thinking two other bikers come by and asked if I needed any help. The kindness of others is something that I was happy to receive. What was unusual was they both had bikes from the same manufacturer. One of the bikers had the same version as mine, but a newer model, so I looked at his and noticed a small shallow screw had come out. All four of us looked on the grayish-black rock surface of the trail looking for the proverbial screw in a rockpile. Several minutes passed and it still remained lost. I did not want to take up this generous couples time so I thanked them and they soon were on their way down the trail.
I had several options now. One was to walk 7.5 miles back to Vienna to the vehicle or walk 2.5 miles to Tunnel Hill and wait for my fellow bikers to pick me up. Some might think the first option as not an option, but if I was by myself this would have been the choice I would have picked. Since I was with others, I took the second option and took my bike for a 2.5 mile stroll.
This was the first time my brother and his wife had attempted such a long bike ride. I can remember several years ago my first attempt and the sence of accomplishment it was to say that I had rode a bike 18.6 miles. I encouraged them to continue to Tunnel Hill and then to ride back to Vienna to finish this section. There was no sense for my mishap to ruin their day.
I started my “hike with a bike” to Tunnel Hill as they pedaled ahead. I wondered what people thought as I passed them on the trail and said hello in a cheery way. Did they think that I was too tired to ride or that I was just crazy? It really did not matter and I laughed to myself. I had a new goal for the day and it was to get to Tunnel Hill.
As I walked, I thought how the day would have been if my attitude had been different. What if I had gotten angry and kicked my bike, cussed at the world, and grudging hiked to Tunnel Hill? I would have not only ruined my day, but the people I had come with might have received my stress and I would have multiplied the situation. I did not though and thought how much happier I was and how thankful that I was not riding alone, thus making a 7.5 mile hike back to the vehicle inevitable.
I, also, viewed this situation as a good story I could tell in the future. I have previously rode this section 6-8 times without any incident, but this day is the one that will standout against all others. No one got hurt and all would hopefully end well. As I progress through life, I have come to look at setbacks as learning experience or as some may claim, fate. My thought is that if I continue to look for these teachable moments my life will be fuller and richer. It has become my choice on how I react to situations. The old adage with age comes wisdom is for me very true.
Well, here is my ride pulling in. Yeah, they made it and now I have turned this moment into an entry I can post on my website.
Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.
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