Never in a Million Years!
Have you ever had an itch, a craving, a crazy idea that you just couldn’t shake? A vision of you doing something that you wouldn’t ordinarily do, but you can almost feel yourself doing? To top it all off, the image of a photograph in hand which exhorts your accomplishment just will not go away?
As a six year old I was given a ride by a distant cousin on a (what I recall as) beautiful turquoise and white Harley Davidson motorcycle. In the 50’s his overtly confident demeanor, partially fueled by his black leather jacket, tight white t-shirt, and straight legged blue jeans (rolled up cuffs, of course) I suppose, combined with the slow, thick rhythmic thud of the engine and the wind which blew my two long braids behind me, left me with an impression which continued to fuel my wanting spirit. I wanted to own a Harley Davidson, too, to recapture that spirit of adventure and freedom instilled in me by that 15 minute ride. And so, at the age of 28, I finally did! Now, thirty six years and eleven Harley’s later, I relive those emotions of so long ago each time I embark on a new riding adventure. Of course, I’ve got the photos in hand, stored in one of my many clouds and displayed on my cell phone.
One of my ‘dreams’ of adventure imbedded in my psyche when I was a bit older. Forty years older to be exact. In 1999 the Maah Daah Hey Trail opened in the badlands of North Dakota. Maah Daah Hey is a phrase from the Mandan Indians meaning "an area that has been or will be around for a long time." At that time it was a 100 mile plus path, which accommodated hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Today it’s use is the same, but it’s expanded to 144 miles and is now the longest continuous single track mountain biking trail in America. It is also a designated National Recreation Trail with nine campgrounds. As a new millennium approached, I saw hiking and biking the Maah Daah Hey as an enormous challenge, in a romantic sort of way considering the history of the area, but one that I’d never attempt. It was beyond reach for a middle aged woman like me. Or so I thought.
Eighteen years later. I’m no longer middle aged. I qualify for senior citizen discounts and for the most part young people open doors for me and address me as Ma’am.
My life has changed drastically since those stirrings to experience the badlands up close and personal in 1999. With my children grown and a long term marriage behind me, the present is a time for renewed growth. A real Bucket List confronts me, and I am checking off goals set years and years ago. With the encouragement and knowledge of a new partner, who is soon to become my husband, spending time on the Maah Daah Hey is one of those goals. Together we have hiked many portions of the trail, often using it as a starting point for cross- country treks to reach the highest points from which we can photograph the area. Hiking is one thing, but bicycling is totally another! People in their sixties do not attempt to bicycle one of the most renowned trails in the world! Or do they?
Yes, they do! They do it one push of the peddle at a time, if need be, but they try and they make progress, and they experience some hardships, and they experience a lot of triumphs. Even if it is one mile, or one half mile, or one quarter mile, or a few hundred feet at a time.
Lessons learned: It’s never too late to try and it’s ok to ride (and live) to your own standards and capabilities. Success is attaining your own goals, not those of someone else. You are capable of much more than you imagine. The adventures that the world presents increase as we age, they don’t dwindle, but only if we seek them and confront their challenges. Life gets better when we are in the lead!
To read the entire story of our Maah Daah Hey Trail adventure, go here: