Monday, June 13, 2016

The Magic of Mud

On Sunday, the Little Bellas had all the cards stacked against them.  It was forty five degrees and raining.  The trails were wet and littered with very slippery roots.  This is pretty much some of the worst weather to be on a bike and even more challenging to get first time mountain bikers to fall in love with the sport.  Despite the Vermont 'summer' weather, we had to run our first Little Bellas session.  We had cancelled the last two Sundays because of downpours, and we just had to get this Vermont Little Bellas Sunday session rolling.  It was truly a make it work moment.  To put it in perspective, I was wearing a full L.L Bean rain suit with multiple layers underneath.  It was chilly.  Our youngest group of seven year olds showed up in all different kinds of outfits and varying levels of preparedness.  Full disclosure, this is one of my favorite things about the Little Bellas.  It doesn't matter what one wears.  The only thing that matters is that she can throw a leg over the saddle and start stomping on those pedals.  Some girls had two layers of gloves. Other girls had no gloves at all.  Some were wearing skinny jeans or polka dot tights.  Others wore shorts. Girls were anxious to get their first day of Little Bellas started.  Girls were scared to start Little Bellas and approached with tears hiding behind their dad's leg.  There was one sole uniting factor; everyone was cold.

So we started off the session with a crazy run.  We sprinted around haphazardly in all different directions.  That warmed us up a bit.  Then, we tried to swing our hands to bring the heat, but there wasn't much we could do to protect those bare hands from the drizzle.  Then, we rode reluctantly.  Everyone was pretty quiet except for a couple of squeaks about a mud challenge that had been laid down earlier.  'When are we going to find a mud puddle and get muddy?' This was music to my ears.  It was surprisingly hard to find a mud puddle, but, when we did, oh the magic happened.  The before somber group started to come alive as they painted each other's faces.  The volume was turned up and the comfort level started to raise.  Girls painted their entire face with mud and wanted me to fill in the missing parts.  The little ones got so comfortable that one even put a worm on her chin and another girl took that same worm and made a worm mustache.  We were determined to win the mud off, and, if it came to a tie, we would play the worm mustache card.  This was the trump card.

Silence turned into delightful screaming.  Grumbles about cold hands transformed into concern that the mud was falling off.  Mud has the power to take a miserable day and make it fun.  I can confidently say that these girls had fun after riding for two and a half hours in the cold rain.  That's usually more than I can say on a day like that.  Mission accomplished.  These Little Bellas will be returning next Sunday to have fun all over again.