How I Rode My Mountain Bike Up Mt. Etna

Overcoming Disappointment, Challenges and Shifting Gears

My husband and I took a vacation in July to Italy and Greece. We went on a large cruise ship with some dear friends. For those of you who have cruised before you know that you get to see a lot of really wonderful places in a short period of time.

Every day is a different port, a new adventure and plenty of experiences to share at dinner back on the ship. This is a perfect way to see places you have never been to and get a feel for where you would like to return for a longer more in depth visit.

This trip was heavy on cultural and historic sights. We saw the Coliseum and the Sistine Chapel in Rome. We visited the Acropolis in Athens. We saw the Athena Lindos Acropolis in Rhodes.

By the time we got to Sicily I was ready to get outside and see some of nature’s offerings. I signed up for a mountain bike tour of Mt. Etna. Great! I thought I would get to do my favorite thing in a place I had never been before. How cool! This will be great!

Bright and early that morning I get off the ship and board a little tour bus for the mountain. My husband and our friends were going on a more relaxed adventure. I was on my own. I knew no one on the trip. Our bus driver spoke no English.

We were on the bus for an hour and a half driving through town and then up the mountain. It would have been great to know a little about the area we were traveling though. But our bus driver just kept looking at her GPS and drove. Up and up we went. Where we were going to stop we didn’t know. It’s an adventure this is going to be fun!

Finally, we pull up to a restaurant where I see some bikes and two handsome Italian men dressed in their cycling kits. (Kits in the cycling world are your matching team jersey, shorts, socks, gloves and helmet.) These guys were professionals! Ok, so maybe this will be great after all.

We get assigned our bikes. I was given a bike that said “Fit Girl” on it. It was a pretty robin’s egg blue. Really? Everyone else was given a 29-inch wheel bike. Mine was a 26-inch wheel model; not exactly state of the art. Oh well, I told myself this is going to be easy. After all I live in Colorado where the real mountains are.

We started off on the trail going into the woods across the road from the restaurant. And immediately we start going uphill. It quickly gets steep. And the dirt is not hard pack Colorado clay dirt. Oh no! It is fine lava rock the consistency of sand.

Yes, we are climbing up an active volcano. Now I am sweating, slipping on the trail, cursing under my breath and not having fun. It gets steeper. I get off my bike. I don’t like my bike. And I start walking up the trail. This is fun! Not!

Now I have a choice.

I can keep whining about how this isn’t perfect. I can complain about my gear, the lava sand, the steep trail and have a crummy time. Or I can shift. Shift gears both mentally and on my bike.

I stopped on the trail. Drank some water. I looked up at the beautiful trees. I smelled the clean mountain air and took several deep breaths. “You’re on vacation I told myself. Relax. Let all the little things go that aren’t quite right. Enjoy this place. Take it slow. Take it easy. Appreciate the beauty around you.” Oh, right. I forgot.
So what did I do? I got an attitude adjustment. Drank some water. Got back on the bike and pedaled up the mountain. The view from the trail’s end was breathtaking. The lava fields we rode through were stunning; right up next to the evergreen forest. Perfect!

The ride down the mountain? Fast, furious, fun!

Christine J. Harris, M.S., L.M.F.T., C.B.T.

Christine J. Harris, M.S., L.M.F.T., C.B.T.

Christine Harris is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Bioenergetic Therapist in Littleton, Colorado. Her specialty is embracing all of you: body, mind, and spirit in the therapy process. She has extensive post-graduate training in Bioenergetic Psychotherapy, a body-centered form of counseling. Contact her about your life’s adventures, misadventures, and desire for a more vibrant life. Email: [email protected] Phone: 720-727-2500.

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