Ride or die

Sumter National Forest is my favorite place in the South. It’s even better than Bladenboro, N.C.

(I have a history of being sarcastic to the point that no one knows what I’m actually saying. While saying Sumter National Forest is better than every destination I’ve seen in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia seems like something I’d say in jest, it is not. I literally like Sumter National Forest more than every other place I’ve visited in the South.)

I’ve only visited the part of the forest in Abbeville County – and considering I’ve only used the forest for its mountain bike trails, I’m pretty sure these paths are what I actually like. Still, they’re in the forest. Still, I associate Sumter National Forest with something I madly enjoy.

Here’s why:


These photos were taken tonight in that order (left to right) to accompany a blog post I cooked up while on the trail. Trust me, I wouldn’t have taken a photo of myself without a good reason. The post was going to be on the beauty of the trails and how I wonder why they aren’t more popular, showing photos of each stretch I thought deserved a shoutout.

As you can see, the first went great. There’s a cute little 500-yard climb covered with cute little tree roots with my bike on its side at the top. Shortly thereafter, I took one of myself against the trees to show just how flippin’ happy I was (but I now see I look more exhausted than anything). Finally, there’s a shot I took on a particularly treacherous stretch of rooks, tree stumps and probably petrified animal carcasses that requires a technical climb along the side of a cliff. It pretty much requires a complete effort to keep from falling to the left and tumbling down an 80-foot embankment covered with things that could puncture a jugular vein with ease.

Well, that’s what I wanted the photo to show. Unfortunately, I fell off my bike shortly after it snapped. What you see here is the inadvertent shot that happened a second or two before I lost complete control – you know, the one or two seconds when you still think you can recover but are in a complete defense mode that ultimately fails.

So my phone goes flying into the woods. I go flying shortly thereafter. And my bike rolls over me and into the canyon below as I’m clinging to the edge of this cliff. (Good thing bikes don’t have jugular veins.)

Obviously, we all survived.

I had come to the forest to blow off some steam, which was odd because, frankly, I don’t have much steam to blow off. I mean, this stuff seems like huge, end-of-days-type matters to me, but it’s nothing compared to what others face. I more or less needed time alone in a secluded area to think.

Here’s what I came up with before the fall:

– I need to get better at “putting it all out there.” It’s true. I fear rejection and prefer to avoid the drama that comes with going after what I want. It’s much safer to have zero seconds of insane courage than 20.

I have dreams of jobs that’d be better for me, but it’s much easier to simply retain the one I’ve got.

What if my boss finds out I was looking for another job?

I’ve wanted to move home since I graduated from college. Five years later, I’m still more than 700 miles away.

What if I get up there and hate it?

I want my daughter to care more about others than she cares about herself.

I should just do what everyone else is doing.

I really feel like I could love that woman.

It’s more comfortable at this time to think about what could be than it is to deal with rejection.

– Kalista. In general, Kalista. She’s getting so old. Now she’s starting to ask questions I don’t know how to answer. If I give the wrong response, it could totally screw up her life. I need to spend more time with her. I shouldn’t be out here alone. God, help me make better decisions. Thank you for my faith.

– There’s no need for this many spider webs. Why are these things across the trail, about eye level, every 500 yards or so? Is there a massive spider stuck to my arm? I should have sent an idiot out in front of me.

But the fall. That lovely, lovely make-you-think-about-how good-you’ve-got it fall that nearly resulted in death.

Here’s what I thought about after the fall:

Mimes are useless. So are auctioneers. Neither of these occupations contribute squat to society. What purpose do mimes serve? They are useless and intrusive. Clowns should be in a circus or at the rodeo, not meandering down the street confusing people. And don’t get me started on auctioneers. Auctions are meant to collect the highest bid for something – a task that could be done by anyone with the ability to speak just as effectively as someone who talks fast. No one even understands what they’re saying.

– Kalista’s cat needs to stop eating the dog’s food. This morning it wouldn’t leave me alone, rubbing against my ankles and meowing incessantly like it was in love. It only does this when it’s hungry. So I checked its food and saw plenty – but the dog’s dish was empty. I picked the cat up, placed it near its food dish before giving it a shake to let the cat know it had food. It did absolutely no good – the cat wanted dog food.

– This is a lot of fun. I don’t know why more people don’t cycle. It can really clear your head.

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One Response to Ride or die

  1. amy says:

    Hmmmmm….I’ll remember the comment about ‘sending an idiot out in front of you’ in the event we are ever on the trail together…. 🙂 Very nice post.

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