By Brice Minnigh
Photo by Christophe Margot
It was 1977 when I first hucked my purple Schwinn Pixie off a pine-needle-covered hip on the hill below my house. I somehow landed it and pushed
straight back to the top to hit it again. And again. And again. Each time, I got a little higher off the ground, hooting gleefully with the sensation of flight.
Inevitably, I finally pushed my limits and was treated to my first solid digger—which knocked the wind out of me so decisively all I could
do was lie on the ground and wait to get my breath back. At that very moment, my poor mother happened to walk outside and spotted me wheezing in the dirt. She sprinted down the hill, picked me up, dusted me off and told me I was no longer allowed to conduct gravity experiments. Of
course I didn't listen to her, and within days I was blasting off the natural booter again.
My neighbor noticed all the fun and immediately let his Stingray fly, turning the proceedings into a veritable rotation. My mom was not pleased—and clearly worried—but when she saw that we were actually improving with each jump, she must have decided to turn a blind eye to our newfound obsession. We soon tapped out the potential of my introductory launch pad and began to explore further afield, scouting out nearby power-line clearings and jeep roads for more challenging kickers.
I often came home banged up and covered with scrapes, and, despite the fear my mother's eyes betrayed, she resisted her protective instincts and simply cleaned my wounds. Over the years, she grew accustomed to the alarming regularity of injuries, developing an intuitive understanding of how they were the necessary dark side of the lightness that riding brought me. Despite it all, she encouraged me to pursue my two-wheeled passion, quietly supporting me through decades of bike-fueled adventure and mayhem.
For most mothers, the ability to override their maternal conservatism and actually endorse body-wrecking endeavors does not come easy. It is a selfless act, and one that shows patience and insight—even if they never totally understand why we put ourselves in physical peril. Those of us who are lucky enough to have moms who back us unconditionally—despite their better judgment—should acknowledge the emotional sacrifice they continually make.
And for the luckiest of us, whose mothers have always been quietly waiting in the wings, whispering morale-boosting words of inspiration, we owe you all an enormous debt of gratitude.
You are the unheralded heroes of all our accomplishments.