Today was my wife’s first ride in the twisties! I have been looking forward to this for so long. I have been on so many adventures in the hills and the stories just aren't as good as being there. I have wanted to share these good times with my purdy wife, and I finally got the chance to take her.
Obviously, you can’t just take her to slay “The Dragon” on her first time out. She is still pretty nervous about the whole thing and that probably has something to do with how long it has taken to get her on the back of the bike. I talked with my buddy Jeff and we decided to take her to Brevard, NC and eat at Hawg Wild BBQ and then head back home via East Fork and Hwy 178.
Since our planned route wasn’t too long we got to leave a little later in the morning and that gave the sun time to warm up a little. When we set out to meet Jeff at Cedar Mountain the temp was about 46 degrees F. Shannon is very cold natured so I did a little prep the night before. I got her some winter gloves, windproof socks, windproof jacket, neck gaiter, and some thick socks. Can you tell I want her to have fun?
This was also the first time Shannon has used a communicator in her helmet. I think this helped her a lot as well. I took a mild route avoiding any high speed interstates to meet Jeff. Once we met up it was time to hit the twisties. I tried to get Shannon prepared for these curves, but I think you just have to experience them. Jeff and I were taking it easy, but after the first few curves Shannon is breathing heavy and talking herself through it. She was more than nervous at this point. I knew the curves were going to tighten up as we went so Jeff and I got her to talk to us and tell us about her new job. This worked so well that she blew right through the tightest curves and barely even noticed! We made it to Caesar’s Head State Park for our first break.
The curviest part of the morning was over and she has held up pretty well! After a quick break we headed out for the Dupont Forest. The valley was beautiful. Rolling hills with autumn colors were all around us. I think Shannon really liked the scenery. Shortly after leaving the forest we arrived at Hawg Wild for lunch. I could tell she was getting tired, but Shannon was hanging in there. We had some BBQ and Shannon had a couple cups of coffee to warm up.
After lunch we got back on the road and I thought we were going to be home free. Then we hit East Fork Road. It’s a very twisty road, but we were going slow. That wasn't good enough; Shannon was getting nervous again and we were going to be in some very curvy roads for a while. She kept it together through East Fork, but I think that was about all she could handle. All the way down 178 we could hear heavy breathing and her legs were squeezing my hips so hard that I was starting to hurt!
By the time we made it through 178 and back to Hwy 11 Shannon had reached her mental limit. Conversation was no longer effective and I wasn't sure I would get her back in the saddle when we stopped for gas. If she had another choice, I don’t think she would have, but she gathered herself up and got back in the saddle to return home. I was proud of her. I know this is tough for her and this was a heck of ride to bite off for her first time. I had planned a more interesting route home, but I decided to take Hwy 11 all the way back so it would be straighter, flatter, and quicker. I didn't want to push her so far that she would never do it again.
By the time we got home she was irritated. We were running a little late and she wanted to get our son and hang out with him some. After she got warm and the little man was in her arms she was calmed down. She said the first half was a lot of fun, and that would have been a comfortable place to stop. I was glad she didn’t get scared off and she handled that fear and anxiety like a champ! I know she was scared and nervous, but she made it and I think she even enjoyed it! I may not be able to get her back out there again until Spring, but a few more rides and I think she will be a great road partner.
What I Learned:
- I should have picked a shorter route for Shannon’s first twisty ride.
- I learned what it feels like for my hips to be squeezed until pain sets in.
2 Timothy 1:7 NIV “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
I know this ride was not easy for Shannon. She was very nervous, anxious, and a little fearful to ride in the hills. I was surprised how much she was talking herself down in her helmet and it makes me glad that we decided to sell her bike a while back. However, she showed a lot of courage on this adventure. Many people would have given into their fear and missed out on a new experience. Shannon stepped out of her comfort zone like a BOSS! She stared down that twisty mountain road and beat it. She was monitoring my speedometer and telling me to slow down the whole time, but she conquered it all the same. How do you handle situations like this? Do you muster up your courage and take it on or shrink back to your comfort zone? Tell me your stories in the comments below.
****UPDATE**** I got her back out there again! Check it out.