I once rode a quad bike off a cliff. I wish I could say it was because I was attempting a stunt involving my left nostril and right butt cheek but sadly what made me lose control of that quad bike was caution.
I was re-uniting with a couple friends that I hadn’t seen for over two years and we planned an ‘action packed’ vacation in Hartebeespoort. Things had recently happened to all of us and we needed a ‘fun’ break to reconnect. On this particular day of festivities the itinerary involved horse riding and quad biking; only one of the three of us had done either of these activities before but we decided that it would be fun. And we loved it … the beginning that is.
The farm we went to was owned by a husband and wife team (as is usually the case) and had wonderful views, a pack of memorable dogs I loved because they were friendly and reminded me of some pups I had had and the wife half of the team was a dear… then we met her husband. But I am racing ahead. Obviously I cannot give the name of the establishment because this isn’t a great review for them and I don’t think its enough to say, ‘horse ride here but quad bike elsewhere’ or ‘find out if the husband is taking you on the bikes and if he is cancel!’ coz all of that seems kinda passive aggressive and really, perhaps you wont have the same experience there but I don’t want to tempt you to damage property to find out.
Now one of the first things husband part of the team said was ‘quad bikes can kill you’ and ‘quad bike accidents are nasty business’… those are the kind of things a girl has no trouble remembering. The ride was meant to last an hour, less than seven minutes in, husband owner is on his cell phone and we have to stop. No biggie, I reckon I will just soak in the scenery. Then he pretty much was far ahead of us and didn’t seem bothered with us at all… as in we are beginners on the bikes but he is acting like he is on a solo ride way up front of our ‘detail’. There were more calls but I didn’t get too irritable. The place was just too beautiful, we were on a different path than we had used for the horse ride so I had plenty to keep me occupied. About forty/forty five minutes into the ride we approached what appeared (to me) a very narrow ‘bridge’ so I slowed down and tried to crawl onto this impossibly narrow embankment (I was certain I would fly off if I was at another speed than toddler) but on making sure my right side was safe I was too close to the left and couldn’t steer away coz of the afore mentioned lack of speed, so I did what any rational person would do and tried to tilt the bike away from gravity but turned out I was lighter than the bike and so I fell off and watched the bike slide away from me. That ‘slow mo’ thing is real. It was like it was at quarter speed!
Its what happened after this that ruined the experience for me, once I had yelled loud enough for the person in front of me to know something was wrong, I went down that cliff after the bike and since it had landed top side down, I tipped it over which was not easy coz on top of being lighter than the stupid thing my arms are so weak that all the strength I have in them is imaginary. Just then owner guy comes down the cliff and not once does he ask if I am okay, instead he starts complaining about plastic pieces that are now damaged and he’s never seen anyone do ‘anything like this’. At the time I just felt miserable coz I hate causing other people pain in any sort of way and this was my fault. But then guy manages to start the bike and I sing on the inside coz if it starts its ‘not that bad’ yet he goes on about how insurance wont cover his business and maybe he shouldn’t be in it to begin with. Now I’m worrying that we are going to be hit by some damage clause that was definitely not on the disclaimer I signed but Ii wouldn’t have protested paying. So I follow him climb back up this cliff and when we are back on the road he tells me I must go back to the bike and ride it from there and I think ‘You saw me climbing, you didn’t think I needed to hear that before?’ But again, I had damaged his property so I figured just go back down and not be a nuisance.
The ride back was miserable and quiet and when we pulled up in front of his house he leaped off his bike and started telling his wife and two of his friends what happened which he couldn’t have because at no point did he find out from me. The two friends ask what happened so I tell them that I approached too slow and the bike was too heavy for me to put back in the middle of the path (granted I wasn’t nearly as composed or coherent, I felt royally terrible), owner guy had walked off before I had even started my ‘confession’ and his wife after him. The two friends seemed concerned about my plight (which I guess was easy for them, I hadn’t damaged their property) but when the wife returned with our phones and cameras my friends and I thought they would ask us to pay for the damage or something because on their disclaimer all that is there is that the business isn’t liable for any damage or loss incurred on their property, nothing about what happens if you damage theirs (they have probably changed that now). Wife had no smiles for us or any form of encouragement so I said another apology and we set off and on top of feeling terrible about the damage I felt extra guilty about ruining the trip with my incident.
For a while after that I couldn’t remember the pretty views, or my calm horse and another horse that kept stopping to eat no matter what my friend riding it tried to do. I couldn’t remember the silly Alsatian obsessed with playing ‘fetch’ or the guide that was so patient with us on the horse trail and was a true example of what a person in service to customers is all about. All that defined that day was how miserable I felt at the end of it.
Too often we let the misery define an experience. We are quick to take ownership of things that are beyond our control (this is more common for women than it is for men). I definitely injured that husband and wife team with my accident but they acted like I had done it on purpose and having them act that way added to my negative feelings.
So basically what I want to share with you is how often do you hold on to negative feelings not only caused by other people but caused by actions beyond your control?
It took me a while to separate my actions from that owner and look objectively at what had happened. I will probably never go to that establishment again and will not be as eager to get onto another quad bike but when I do get back on a bike. I am flooring it! Maybe it’s easier not to be upset with someone if they are a mangled mass of flesh under your machinery.