Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
“This is a nightmare,” I thought. Sean was on the ground wincing in pain and blood was slowly leaking through his spandex. A million things raced through my mind but I stopped, took a deep breath, collected my thoughts and got to work. Sean had been thrown off his bike by a sharp, concealed rock. It was the first time something had gone terribly wrong while I was mountain biking. I called 911, made a sling out of my shirt to support his broken arm and carried him to the road. To my relief paramedics were already there.
The trails I ride have long winding turns and portions that are extremely technical. Multiple fast-paced sections require me to make split-second judgments. Every right decision bolsters my confidence and motivates me to try more challenging terrains. Failure to make the correct decision often leads to injury, as happened with my friend Sean.
Mountain biking is by no means a solo sport; it helps foster relationships between groups of people. It trains people to be dependent on and look out for each other. When a friend falls down or takes a wrong turn everybody stops. This extends to the surroundings as well. As we take care of each other we also work together to take care of the trails on which we ride. Leaves are raked, trees are replanted, and garbage is removed.
Perhaps, the best word to describe the view while riding a trail is, simply, a blur. Racing in 15th gear, I can only make out the biggest obstacles. Like a vision tracking algorithm, my brain sorts out objects and maps out a safe path for me to take almost instantly. On the trail, the occasional bug flies into my mouth but my full-face helmet does a good job of mitigating this – at the cost of my face burning up. The backsplash of riders in front of me always seems to spray thick mud in my visor. My muscles constantly scream to give up but the adrenaline rush of steep drops and tight maneuvers pushes me onward. I know I will need this determination to face the all-nighters that college will inevitably throw at me.
My mother continuously reminds me of the awe she saw in my eyes when I received my first bike as a birthday gift. I would not get off it until I had explored every corner of my neighborhood. I believe that the spirit of mountain biking embodies itself not only in the precision and technicality required, but also in the curious and exploratory nature of the rider. Although I start on a conventional trail, taking the left turn that leads nowhere is a choice I often make. Following my instincts has brought me to abandoned campsites, undiscovered springs and places that I go to get away from it all. I am no longer afraid of the unknown; if I have not defined my own path, then I do not feel my ride was a success.
A truly multidimensional activity, mountain-biking encompasses all my interests and more. My passion to innovate, to constantly improve, is reflected in minor tweaks I consistently make to my bike. Long nights in the garage shaving down unnecessary 6061 aluminum finally paid off when I made an unofficial track record on a local trail. Greasing gears, tuning suspensions and barreling down a rocky path on a mountain bike help me escape from the sometimes overwhelming world of microprocessors and LED displays – a world with which I find myself more and more intertwined, until I hit the trail.