Off the Beaten track:

Adventures in Mountain Biking

It's a funny thing growing up with a maniacal mountain biker for a father. I've found that I do things for fun that most people would consider toruturous. For example, on the last day of school of my freshman year of high school, Dear ole Dad and I decided to go do some exploring...

At the time a lot of the forest land near our house had been slashed and burned in order for a lake to be built. The lake area had been vacant for quite a few months, waiting for rain water to fill it up. So, despite the fact that we hated the deforestation with a passion, we weren't about to pass up that kind of perfectly good dirt.

So, we got on our mountain bikes and headed down the dirt road that led into the future lake. When we reached the bottom, though, we realized we had a bit of problem. In order to get to the really good dirt, we had to cross a wide stream. It beig June in Georgia, we weren't too thrilled with the idea of wading through muddy water that could be hiding any number of poisonous snakes. So Dad and I decided we'd try to find a place we could cross. We looked to both sides of us, seeing nothing but shrubs and brambles taller than I am. I didn't really like the aspect that big, mean animals could easily hide in this stuff, not to mention big,drunk hunters with BIG guns. Don't laugh, I live in rural Georgia. We've got both.

I decided to go anyway. Heck, I'm crazy enough to through rock- and root-fields that are pitched to nearly vertical, why not brave this stuff? So off we went to the right. Don't ask me why we chose right over left. It seemed like a good idea at the time. A little over a hundred yards in, we stopped to get our bearings and see if we could go any further. Well, about thirty seconds after we decided to go back to the left, we found that Dad was standing in quicksand.

After detaching my father from the ground we went back to the left. It wasn't much better, but we knew if we went long enough we'd find our way to something that somewhat resembled a trail. The ground consistency went from gravel, to mud, to sand, to sand with broken beer bottles in it, to more quicksand (THAT was a challenge), to hard-packed dirt. This was all great fun, but the real challenge came after we finally found a place to cross the stream.

We got across, feeling triumphant and ready to get to the trails we knew lay ahead. This triumph soon fizzled when we found that to get to our destination, we would have to bushwack our way through the previously mentioned six-foot tall shrubbery. I was seriously contemplating lettig Dad go ahead so he could call for a helicopter to air-lift me outta there. Unfortunately he wouldn't go for the idea, so I kept going, and eventually we got there. By that time it was dusk, and we opted to take the road-route back home.

Upon arriving home, bleeding, sunburnt, and sweaty, I dressed my wounds, got in the shower, and said to myself, "Yes, Amelia. This was a good day..." Like I said, I have a twisted sense of fun.

by Amelia Shackelford
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