As a crazy trail runner, I look forward to days like today. My truck’s outside temperature reading showed 93 degrees as I embarked on my run. I planned to take the slightly less strenuous route, which meant I’d save the biggest hill climbs for the middle part of the run, rather than the beginning. As usual, I stopped at each bench for a round of push-ups…ten at each bench, rather than the usual fifteen. Giving myself a break in the heat seemed like a good plan.
My run up Big Red, the highest peak in the park, had gone well, meaning I was able to make it to the top without stopping. The good news is there’s a bench at the top, so I was obliged to stop and do push-ups, and catch my breath. I looked forward to descending the back side of Big Red, and reaching the turnaround point where I’d be heading into the wind. Running into the wind, and catching a bit of shade from the trees next to the trail would help me cool off and recover from the first couple miles of the run.
I had just started enjoying the shady portion of the run when all of a sudden a guy on a mountain bike whizzed by me on the left. In fact, he was so close that he actually clipped my left elbow on his way by. I yelled,”IT’S ON THE LEFT, JACKASS! TRY HAVING SOME TRAIL MANNERS!” I didn’t think he heard anything and I continued down the trail.
As I came up to the only bench with a roof (we refer to it as The Bus Stop), there was Mr. Mountain Biker. He was off his bike, and seemed to be waiting for me. I thought about just running by, acting oblivious. But, it was a bench, and I’m required to do at least ten push-ups at each bench.
I approached the bench and just as I started my push-ups, Mr. Mountain Biker asked, “What’s the deal with you? You veered across the trail just as I was about to pass! What were you yelling?”
I finished my ten push-ups, and took a nice swig of water from my water bottle. Maybe I should have skipped this bench was the first thought that came in to my mind. I generally like my runs to be solitary affairs. There’s nothing like pushing against my physical limits to clear my mind. “Have you seen the signs around the park? Bikers yield to runners, and runners and bikers yield to horseback riders.” I caught my breath and continued, “I didn’t hear you coming since you didn’t say ‘ON YOUR LEFT’ like most bike riders do.” Then came the fighting words before I could stop them. “Do you know anything about trail etiquette?”
That last question didn’t sit well with Mr. Mountain Biker. He tossed his bike aside. “I asked you what you were yelling at me, butthead!” He stepped toward me, and I thought he was about to shove me in the chest like seventh graders do at the beginning of fights.
I stepped back to avoid the shove that I knew was coming. He stopped short and stood there, waiting for me to escalate. I couldn’t help noticing that I was about six inches taller and at least 50 pounds heavier than Mr. Mountain Biker. I think my subconscious mind noticed as well and that’s when the words started flowing. “Buddy, you picked the wrong guy to mess with. Sure, I’m a trail runner, but this is just for conditioning. My real hobby is Jiu Jitsu, and I’m a personal injury attorney, always looking for new plaintiffs.”
He stepped back a couple steps. I’m not sure if it was the Jiu Jitsu part, or the attorney part, that scared him the most.
“My trainer is going to love this! I actually get to use some of the submission moves he’s been teaching me, outside the gym!
He stepped back another couple of steps, and moved to pick up his bike. “Dude, relax!”
“I am relaxed! I just wanted you to know what you’re up against. Besides, I’m the one who got hit, so I’m trying to figure out what your deal is.”
Mr. Mountain Biker was looking for the quickest way to exit the scene. “Sorry about your arm. I’ll be more careful next time.” He hopped on his bike and headed down the trail…luckily in the opposite direction from where I wanted to go.
Thankfully, the rest of my run was uneventful.
As I listed my hobbies for Mr. Mountain Biker, I failed to list my favorite. Fiction writer. Fiction writing is basically writing lies for fun (and profit, if anyone buys your stories).
I am a trail runner. I occasionally watch a UFC fight, but the blood makes me queasy. My friends never let me live down the time I actually fainted while watching a UFC fight. I work with corporate lawyers on a regular basis, but I’ve never even met a personal injury attorney.
Oh yeah, about Mr. Mountain Biker. He doesn’t exist either. Isn’t fiction great!