Recently I have been asked to be an adult leader in the youth program through my church. Part of this entails being involved with a local Boy Scout troop. My first reaction to the request was of hesitation for the following:
- I am pretty selfish with my time, especially if I feel that my play time on my bike or snowboard is in danger.
- I am not what you call the most patient person. The idea of spending my free time with other peoples 12 and 13 year old boys didn’t sound too easy.
But then a thought came creeping into my gear head. “If I’m working with the scouts I am going to be able to use all my new gear……I am going be able to justify buying more new gear to the wife!…..I’m in!” So for the last 2 months I have been participating in weekly activities and monthly camping trips and I have been bringing all of my toys.
This last week I was getting the details on our next campout from the scoutmaster. The plan was to camp out in Red Rock and go on a mountain bike ride the next morning…..Score! Naturally only one of the boys had their own bike. The rest of the bikes would have to be borrowed from members of the church congregation. I was assured that this would not be a problem and that everything would be lined up. Since I was the only avid mountain biker in the group I was asked to be the tour guide and on-trail bike mechanic.
The night of the campout was cold and wet. I was pretty pumped to use my rain gear and was looking forward to the hero dirt that waited the next morning. After breakfast I started checking all of the bikes to make sure that everything was in working order. Then my heart sank….. Almost every bike had a kickstand and cable brakes! I had not seen mountain bikes like these since the 5th grade. Meanwhile my black beauty of a bike, which cost more than my first car, was sitting on my rack cleaned, lubed and ready to shred. I knew then that my mindset needed to change. This would not be the typical after rain storm mountain bike ride that you and I long for. It would be an experience, and the boys were pumped.
The route that I had planned was to start at Katie’s Lot, head up Rubber Ducky, take Late Night to Viagra and head back down Cottonwood Blvd. After seeing the bikes I wasn’t sure that the boys would make it. But the scoutmaster, Joseph Woolstenhulme, wanted to push them hard so that they would learn something about themselves. He wrote the following:
“I am the scoutmaster of troop 242 of the Las Vegas Area Council. On 12/13/14 the scouts in our troop completed their first mountain biking trip. We camped the night before and our patrol leader led a reflection around the campfire centering on the topic of perseverance, team work, and overcoming challenges in our lives. We were rained on overnight and a cold wind bit into our faces as we biked up the mountain trail in the morning. One of our newest scouts had a difficult time riding an adult frame bike. He tired quickly and struggled to balance above pedals just within reach. He started with a pretty good attitude but the terrain, wind, and cold chilled his enthusiasm substantially. About ¾ of the way up the 9 mile loop trail, he was close to calling it quits. I don’t know what exactly was in his mind, aside from hearing the occasional outburst of “this is miserable” or “I hate mountain biking”, but with freezing fingers and tired legs he finally walked his bike over the crest of the trail and turned north around a hill, straight toward one of the largest and brightest rainbows I had ever seen. What a contrast. The same extreme elements that molded such a beautiful contrast of scenery, a desert trail brought to life by the recent rains set under a near cloudless sky pierced by a stunning rainbow, were also molding the character of this new scout. He persevered through extreme wind and steadily overcame harsh terrain, now he was about to reap the rewards of his diligence. With the wind at his back, he turned the bike downhill and rode toward the end of that bright rainbow. His attitude revived and became as bright and full of life as the environment around him capturing the essence of scouting, helping boys develop the character that will make them the best of men, learning that sacrifice, perseverance, and diligence are part of that. The young scout even said he’d like to go mountain biking again.”
Even though it was the longest 9 mile ride I have ever been on it was a good ride. The boys had a blast and tried to jump every little rock they could. One of the boys casually mentioned that he planned on joining me on my weekly rides. Such a trooper! I hope he’s ready to shred and throw down some serious miles! I’m not advocating that people get involved with scouts or with a youth group, although it’s a great experience, but it’s more about getting out to ride and spread the love of our trails and sport. As soon-to-be father of a baby girl, what I learned is that my perspective is going to change, at least at times. I also learned that as soon as she is ready to get on a bike, I’m going to teach her everything I know. I look forward to the ride where she asks “why do they call it Rubber Ducky?” And I’ll tell her the same thing that I told the scouts…. “Keep going and you’ll see why”. Take pleasure in new experiences. Invite that friend who doesn’t have a bike but has a little adventure in him/her. Turn off the Strava and make some friends, take some breaks, jump those rocks, then jump them again. Tis the season! - Brett Call