Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Desperation Situation

Last time I purchased life insurance, the salesman had a long list of questions to help him determine my eligibility for the policy and what my monthly premium would be.

At first the questions he asked were ones I was eager to answer no to.

“Do you smoke?”


“Are you currently taking any medications?’


“Do you use any illegal drugs?”


As the list progressed, the questions started to get less obvious.

“Do you skydive?”


“Do you white water kayak?”


“Do you hang glide?”

“Umm...Not really.”

“Do you do any kind of Winter Mountaineering?”

“Not since the accident.”

“Base jump?”


After admitting I didn't participate in about ten different Mountain Dew sponsored sports, I was starting to wonder what was wrong with me.

“Do you race moto-cross?”

“We owned motorcycles when I was younger? Does that count?”

“Do you own a motorcycle now?”


“Do you race any other type of motorized vehicle?”

“If we get a red light next to another mini-van, I will sometimes rev my engine and see if I can get the other driver’s attention.”

“I’ll mark that as a no.”

I was starting to get desperate. It appeared I was an insurance company's dream. Was I going to have to go through this whole list without answering yes to one single question? Where was the surfing or mountain biking question? Was I really living that boring of a lifestyle?

Then finally, it came…

“Do you participate in rodeo?”

My face lit up, “Yes….yes I do!”

Just to be able to answer yes to one question from the life insurance survey was well worth whatever it adds to my monthly premium.

Enter Strawberry Days Rodeo 2009 Wild Cow Milk.

Though ‘The Bold and Gold’ doesn’t go to the formality of assigning official positions on our team, most years Bram and I end up doing the Bull-dogging. Those are the guys who basically take the cow in a headlock and try to hold on until the cow finishes imposing her will on you. This is totally different than a wrestling headlock in which you are on the offense, this is straight defense. You try to dig your heals in and sit back into the cow to take some fight out of her but really it’s mostly survival.

That's an angry cow folks.

This year after letting the cow buck off as much nervous energy as I could bear to watch I clamped on and got ready for the ride. I was taking a pretty standard beating. All our fans said she was the meanest cow out there. (They say that every year. It’s getting harder and harder to believe.) I was doing a decent job of staying on the cow’s head and out of her way at the same time. I had just made another feeble attempt to get my feet out in front of me and dig my heels in, but this time she turned into me and my feet started to get tangled with hers. As she continued to move forward I tried to keep my feet, but her four hooves were far superior to my oversized pair of thrift store boots. Still clutched on her head, I was being overtaken. It appeared inevitable that all 1000 pounds of angry Slim Jims would soon be trampling right across my back. It was what we call in wrestling a “desperation situation.”

Bram and I lock on.

Digging my heels in but soon to be going to the ground.

Feet in tangles and nowhere to go but down!

I was going down, but I was going down swinging. I had no choice but a last ditch effort to go on the offensive with the only thing I had left, my headlock.

It is said that a wrestler with a good headlock is never out of a match. I was never that wrestler. The only effective headlocks I ever used were to give Rocky noogies back when he was four weight classes smaller than me.

After what feels like two lifetimes of wrestling, this would be (if it worked) my first ever headlock in competition and it would come against an opponent who had out grown my weight class some 800 pounds ago.

Pulling with everything I got!

No time to calculate angles of leverage, just throw my hips in on instinct and apply as much torque as is humanly possible by a 34 year old ‘has been.’ To my surprise as I was falling to the ground I felt the cow's head following me. For a second I even believed I was going to put her all the way on her side, but the fact that she had four legs saved ole Bessie some face.

It was a moderatly sucessful headlock and definatley the most successful one I had ever thrown. True she wasn’t pinned but given my opponent I felt pretty good about the result and it did save me from a trampling that would have left a mark (or two.) Unfortunatley it happened about 10 seconds too late and we were left grasping for third again.

And so I’ll have to go to church another 52 Sundays without a buckle for my belt. (Sara will be happy about that.) At least I have this sweet picture to show the insurance salesman when I have to renew my policy. (Thanks Rach for documenting.)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dear Mountain Bike Action Magazine,

Dear Mountain Bike Action Magazine,

This letter is to inform you of my wife's eligibility for the mountain bike lessons. I have been a weekend warrior mountain biker for the past 14 years, but have never had a healthy budget for mountain biking. I have mainly used hand-me-down bikes from my older brother or garage sale finds for my ride. I decided about a year and half ago I wanted to introduce my beloved wife to mountain biking. I felt this would be the perfect inexpensive way to get away from the kids every once in a while, get a little physical exercise, and enjoy the awesome mountains in our area. I decided a new mountain bike would be the perfect seventh anniversary present.

Beetle raging on his hand-me-down hardtail.

At the time my current set up was an old specialized hard tail with just over 7 millimeters of its original 100 millimeters of travel on the fork, and about 3-5 useable speeds depending on how good of day it was having.  I knew my wife would need a decent bike to ensure a successful introduction and since funds were tight and my wife monitored our bank activity very intensely, I knew I had to be sneaky. I set up a savings account that was automatically deducted from my paychecks so I could save the funds needed to purchase her first mountain bike. I found a screaming deal on an entry level full suspension bike about three months before our anniversary. So despite the short comings of my hand-me-down hard tail I elected to spend the money I had saved on a sweet new ride for my wife.  Sure it meant rocking the beater bike for at least another season or two but at least I would be doing it in the company of my beloved wife.

I have never been good at keeping secrets but somehow I managed to wait until a week before our anniversary before I gave it to her.  She was so excited; I think it had to be one of the best presents I had ever given her. We went mountain biking that day and had an awesome time. She did however crash on a very smooth, fast, loose area. We got pictures of her first crash, and the minor scrapes that came with it. She didn't seem to mind too bad and admitted to having a really fun time.

The day Mindy got her new bike. 

Crash number two was only a few days after that on some loose dirt on a switch back. This crash did not go over as well because her hip landed on a cut off stump. She suffered more scrapes and a nasty bruise on her hip. I could tell she was hurting from this wreck, but she toughed it out and enjoyed the rest of the trail.

Mt. Biking Bliss.  

At this point I should have stopped to think why she kept wrecking on loose dirt, and maybe given her more time to develop on lesser trails, but I didn’t.  I was eager to share the full mountain biking experience with her. So the next weekend I found a sitter and brought her along with the crew to my favorite downhill romp.  This was by far the longest and most technical trail we had been on, complete with stumps, rocks and a few drops.  I knew the trail was a little out of her league, but I figured she could walk it on anything she wasn’t comfortable with.  

We were having a great ride, me leading the gang and my wife being content to bring up the rear.  It all seemed too good to be true.  About ¾ of the way through the trail I stopped to let the group catch up.  A few minutes later everyone had caught up except for my beloved wife.  After about 15 minutes of waiting we all started to get a little nervous.  I was especially concerned because I had seen a Mountain Lion on that very same trail about three weeks earlier.  I started up the trail on foot since my bike was having a particularly bad day and only offering me two speeds.  I had gone about 50 yards when I found my wife (I actually heard her before I saw her.)  She was crying uncontrollably walking her bike down the hill.  Her knees were bleeding and she was covered in dirt.  She had found a way to lodge a stick through one sidewall of her rear tire and out the other.  In my 14 years as a mountain biker I had never before seen such a feat. The stick was slapping against her frame with every rotation of her tire.  When I asked her why she didn’t pull the stick out, she sobbingly replied “I thought it was like when you lodge something into your eye, you aren’t suppose to take it out until you get to a doctor.”

She had tried to ride over a rock that had about a two foot drop on the other side of it and had a nasty crash.  She was beaten up pretty badly, her knees were cut up and she was bruised all over.  She said she was done mountain biking, because she did not know how to do it.  She cried for a few minutes after that, and then we investigated why she had crashed.  Apparently I had never taught her how the brakes work and she was mainly using her front brake.  This is why she would lose control when she would brake on loose dirt.  I felt bad and apologized for not giving her proper instructions before sending her down the trail. 

That was the last time she used her bike that season and to this day I have not been able to get her back out on the trail.  She does ride her plush full suspension bike from time to time on the road (It’s the wrong size for me), but says she is a little too timid to take it on any trails.  Meanwhile I am still riding my hand-me-down hard tail.  The only thing that has changed for me is I am down to 5mm of travel and I am alone again.  Talk about your all time back fire. 

I feel at fault for her not wanting to mountain bike.  She loved the few rides she went on despite the crashes she had.  She says she would like to get back into mountain biking but does not feel confident enough to do so.  With our kids becoming of age to start mountain biking I would love to make it a family activity.  I know mountain bike lessons would give my wife the confidence to return to the trails. She loves being with me and our kids, and loves enjoying our beautiful Utah Mountains.  Please consider my wife for the mountain biking lessons.

 Thank you,

Regan Smart