He finished his weirdly motivational speech by ignoring the dumbfounded expression on my face and matter-of-factly saying, “Cool, let’s go!” Then he rode away, completely expecting me to follow.
After about fifteen to twenty seconds of pausing to fully understand what I was about to do, I decided it was now or never and hit the gas to catch up to my friend.
When we began to climb the mountain, Ian accelerated about twenty yards ahead of me. A few minutes later, his bike seemed to completely vanish from the path ahead, leaving nothing but a small trail of dust behind him.
As I rode on for another twenty-five yards or so, a wicked ninety-degree turn appeared from out of nowhere, and immediately in front of me was a few-thousand-foot drop. This was no hill I would have tumbled down and gotten a few bumps and bruises from, or maybe a broken arm or leg. This was the kind of drop where my body would have likely disintegrated upon impact, sort of like Wile E. Coyote in those old Road Runner cartoons, when he slips on a banana peel, slides off a cliff, and all you see is a tiny cloud of dust kick up from below. (Beep! Beep!)
Fortunately, I kept hearing Ian’s voice echoing in my brain: “Commit, commit, commit!” In an instant, I closed my eyes and leaned right into the turn as hard as I could. At the same time, Ian’s voice was replaced with my own: “Ben, you fucking idiot; you’re going to die now!”
When I initially opened my eyes, I wasn’t sure if I was dead, free-falling ten thousand feet and about to be dead, or in a dream where I was about to be greeted by the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. Another two to three hundred yards down the trail, I finally realized, “Holy shit! I did it! I’m alive!”
Ian and I rode for another half mile or so before we stopped to collect ourselves. I said, “I can’t believe we fucking did that. I thought I was going to die for sure.”
“I knew you would do what you had to, but what did you learn from that?” Ian asked me.
I told him, “I learned to fucking commit; it’s the only option.”
What an experience that was! It was one of those occasions that you can’t truly fathom unless you’ve actually experienced it for yourself.