Jan. 11, 2001
By Dave and Jane Scherrep
TC woke up raring to go and full of excitement as The Tiger had promised to take him biking in Issaqueena Forest. Ever since Christmas TC had wanted to take his new Red Rider bike out on a real bike trail and try it out. All TC knew about the forest was that it was only a few miles north of campus, contained thousands of trees, a beautiful lake and that Clemson students used it as a big outdoor laboratory. His Uncle also told him that the forest had miles of bike trails and people from all over the state liked to ride there.
“Does it have any snakes?” TC asked.
“I’m sure there are a few,” his Uncle replied, “if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone.” TC rushed through breakfast hoping to get on the road as soon as possible, but his Uncle had other plans. First, we need to check out our bikes and make sure that we have all our supplies.
“What kind of supplies do we need for biking?” TC asked.
The Tiger pulled a crumpled list from his pocket and began to read: water, sun block, first aid kit, map, gloves, tire repair kit, a few tools, and food.
“Tell me more about the food?” TC said.
“I’ve got a lunch packed, and I want it to be a surprise.”
“What time is lunchtime?” TC asked.
“It’s when we stop for lunch,” his Uncle replied.
One last thing TC, “It’s very important to let someone who won’t be on the trip know where you are going and when you expect to be back, that way a search can be launched immediately if you don’t show up.” “I called IPTAY Andy last night and told him where we are going and when we will be back.”
Once everything was packed, TC and The Tiger donned their bike helmets, adjusted their packs and hit the road. After a short ride through Clemson, they turned north on Highway 133 and entered Issaqueena Forest. The Tiger had chosen a route that would take them from one end of the forest to the other, past the lake and back to their starting point. As they rode deeper into the forest, TC noticed that the pine trees were tall and thin like telephone poles and they had a nice smell. He also noticed that every time he went down a hill, he usually had to ride back up one. As they continued on their journey, TC imagined that he was a professional biker all decked out in colorful riding clothes, navigating treacherous bike trails in the cold Rockies.
After about an hour of riding, the lake came into view and a decision was made to stop for lunch. As promised, The Tiger produced a special meal that included granola bars, dried fruit mix, and a small sandwich.
“Where are the hot dogs, chips and cookies?” TC asked.
“A biker has to be conscious of weight,” his Uncle said, “much like a hiker or a soldier.” TC was beginning to think that biking and dieting were one and the same but decided that several granola bars could equal one hot dog given their situation. After all the trash was picked up and put back in their packs, TC and The Tiger left their picnic area in as good a shape as they found it.
They had only been riding for about twenty minutes when TC stopped at the top of a hill to take a breather and scan the trail in front of him.
“Did you hear something?” TC asked.
“Only the wind,” his Uncle replied.
“There it is again,” TC said, “it sounds like someone crying.” The Tiger turned his ear in the direction that TC was pointing and whispered softly that he could hear something.
“Let’s check it out,” TC said, “and they bolted down the hill as fast as their paws would take them.” Just over the next rise, TC saw a small girl crouched beside her bike. Based on the condition of the bike it was obvious to both TC and the Tiger that there had been in an accident. After calming the little girl down, they learned that her name was Megan and that she lived close to the forest. She had a small cut on her leg and a big scrape on her arm, which The Tiger treated with their first aid kit. Megan took a big drink of water, ate two granola bars and explained that she was lost.
“What are you doing in the forest by yourself?” TC asked.
“One of the trails runs close to my backyard,” Megan said, “and I thought I could just ride a short way and then turn around and be back at my house before my mom noticed I was gone.” Megan’s eyes started tearing again as she explained how the trail had forked and that she went to the left but was not sure which way to go when she turned around to go home.
“TC, why don’t you check out Megan’s bike while I get the map out.” After a quick review of the map, they were on their way to reunite Megan with her mom. Megan’s mother thanked TC and the Tiger for bringing Megan home and offered them a cool drink.
“Thanks Mrs. Marshall, but we’ve got to be getting back to campus,” The Tiger said.
As they rode back to Clemson, The Tiger asked, “TC, what lessons have you learned from today’s experience?”
TC thought for a minute then said, “Never go anywhere without a buddy, and always have a map with you.” The Tiger just smiled knowing that TC had learned a valuable lesson.
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