Wind rippled through my hair like water through a raging river. I could feel the vibrations of the road pulsating from my feet to the rest of my body. As I looked down and saw my board’s wheels rotating over the smooth pavement of La Paloma road at thirty miles an hour, adrenaline rushed through my body with the speed of a hawk diving for its prey. These were the sensations I was used to while long boarding down the mountain roads of Los Altos Hills, California.
As I descended the road with increasing speed, it seemed to be a ride like on any other given day; this, however, was not the case. Coming out of a turn, with high speed and shifted momentum, one of my wheels struck a rock that lie alone on the otherwise buttery road. Within less then a second I was thrown across the hot tar, with nothing but my reflexes and clothes on my back to protect me. After sliding and tumbling for what seemed like miles, I came to a complete stop. I got up quick and tried to conceal the pain that shot through my body from my quickly approaching friends.
“Woah, are you okay? That was pretty gnar!” They knew I was pretty much in good health because I was standing. We had never experienced a wipe out at such high speeds before. I brushed the dust from my tattered clothes and the blood from my wounds and made my way to the bottom of the hill – muscles and skinned knees, elbows and palms aching less than my confidence. The rest of my day could have been described as pensive at best; the fall replayed constantly in my mind. I decided that my days of boarding were through and it was time for a new hobby – this choice left me with a hunger that no food could quench.
After the incident, I spent many an hour gazing down that road form atop the hill. By now, the image burned into my retinas. I was unable to board for weeks; my brain – and body – simply would not allow me. That crash did something to me – it presented me with a kind of challenge, a new fear. Every time my gaze descended the road I could hear it whispering: “You weak fool! You don’t deserve to live in these hills!”
Day after day I would return to La Paloma and stare down my prey – always unable to conquer it. About two months later I found myself again at the peak, trying to control the fear and determination that battled violently within me. Maybe it was my imagination, or maybe the luring whisper of a California breeze but hearing the taunt of the mountain that day was the last time; I stepped on my board, cast fear’s severed head into the oaken woods surrounding me and pushed off once more. Just as La Paloma had been before my fall, the run was nothing more then a routine adrenaline rush. But that fall instilled a fear within me that I had never before experienced; stepping back on that board was the toughest thing I had ever done.