Things I was thinking before I went mountain biking for the first time ever: I hope I don't fall and break my arm. I hope I don't run over a snake. I hope I don't get bit by a snake. I hope I don't fall and break my arm.
Things I was thinking after I went mountain biking for the first time ever: Always bring a map. Always bring a map. Always bring a map. Always bring a map. No matter how many people you are with, always bring your own map.
The short version goes kind of like this...
K! and I signed up for a beginning mountain biking class through REI. We figured the trail would be flat with maybe some slight hills and dips to get the hang of using the gears. We could totally handle that. After about and hour and a half of walking uphill with a bike next to us, we decided that we were probably not on a beginner trail. We were also exhausted.
After stopping for lunch, we got separated from the group (there were 8 total, 3 guides and 5 'beginners'). We had been instructed to get a head start on one part of the trail while one of the guides waited for part of the group to back track and get on the right trail. Up until this point, the guides had been really great about making sure everyone was together and that nobody was left behind by themselves. K! and I climbed up the trail for a good half an hour and realized nobody had circled back to check on us. We also realized we had no map. At one point, a nice couple let us take a look at their map and told us that we were headed in the right direction. There was still a lot of uphill to go, then there was some scary downhill bits, but we FINALLY made it back to our starting point. Hooray! But our joy quickly subsided as we rolled down the last bit of trail towards the parking lot and saw that the REI van was gone.
I'm surprised that one of us didn't completely lose it at this point, because I was pretty darn close to freaking the f*ck out. After some deliberation, I called REI on my cell phone in an attempt to tell them that our group seemed to have left us behind. While I was on hold, waiting to speak to a manager, the van pulled in.
The group leader took full responsibility. There had been some miscommunication, a wrong head count, and part of the group had continued in another direction and come out at another parking lot. He was going to take care of us when we got back to the store. Despite being exhausted, dehydrated (I drank TONS of water, and it still wasn't enough), sunburned, dirty, and bruised, I was feeling a little bit better.
In the end, we were given our money back, and a gift card for REI. Honestly, it was way more than I expected. If REI offers another class that seems interesting to me, I wouldn't hesitate to sign up for it. As long as it doesn't involve a mountain bike.
Seriously though. Don't let our little incident deter you from taking a class from REI. We did have a good time, it was definitely a learning experience, and an adventure. And who doesn't need a little adventure now and then?