By Harry Hurt
I mounted a seven-foot-high wooden platform inside Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park in Cleveland, Ohio, trying desperately to channel the daredevil spirit of Evel Knievel so that I wouldn't embarrass myself in front of my jumping instructor, a 16-year-old girl named Lindsey Prososki. Once again, the situation I had gotten myself into was -- in a word -- terrifying.
Prior to that morning, I had never ridden a mountain bike, outdoors or indoors. Crouched in the saddle of a borrowed Trek Mullet, I was now preparing to hurtle down a ramp off the seven-foot-high platform and then -- assuming all went as planned -- up a ramp to a five-foot-high platform and into a pit of red and gray foam squares.
Lindsey, a petite blond whose high school classmates tease her for being a "tomboy," flashed a smile that could have launched a thousand BMXs off a cliff above the nearby Cuyahoga River.
"You can do it," she assured. "I was 13 when I jumped the pit for the first time. Just get down with it, and you'll be beasting."