Saturday, June 25, 2011

You Will Not Regret It If You Live

This was an adventure with all the commensurate risks and rewards. Mountainous terrain and excessive speed contributed to both crashes. With downhills measured in miles instead of yards and altitude drops measured in thousands of feet instead of hundreds, it is no surprise we were riding at excessive speeds for long periods of time. Speeds unheard of on our east coast trails.

Nurse Kitty cleaning up Sebastian.
He'll have some good bacon from
that one!
Sebastian's crash occurred after a particularly gnarly section of downhill where the trail smoothed out. From behind, it looked like his front wheel had hit a large rock - the bike stopped and he flew a good ten yards down the trail, sustaining a couple of nasty scrapes but thankfully no structural damage.  Luckily he was thrown forward and not sideways where there was no trail, only air (you get the picture). Oddly we could not find any obstructions on the trail - final analysis concluded that the rear wheel was off the ground approaching turn when both brakes were applied, resulting in instantaneous endo. Possible contributing factor was that brakes on Sebastian's own bike at home were soft (needed to be bled).
Conclusions: On descents keep weight back and use front brake judiciously. Switching from soft to firm brakes may contribute to misjudging stopping power.
Nurse Kitty checking
Dave before granting
him access to the cooler
Dave's birthday crash had speed and some additional complicating factors. It was at the end of a very very long day, and we were nearing camp and a cooler full of beer.  We were about 3 miles into an 8 mile descent.  It was a similar stretch of trail, very fast, flat, and smooth when Dave just inexplicably disappeared in a tangle of bike, legs, and dust.
Tangent: It was strange seeing the crash from about 100 yards back. The violence of the crash was apparent. Legs and bike tumbling down the trail. Arms flopping. Dust flying. I've been there, I know. But from where I was sitting it was utterly silent. No noise, no pain. A strangely detached and frankly disturbing perspective.
I was first on the scene and as is customary asked him if he was ok. He said "no." David never says "no." A quick assessment turned up a cracked helmet and a left shoulder that hung considerably lower than his right...because his arm had been wrenched out of the shoulder socket. Nurse Kitty promptly got busy assessing the patient and trying to work the arm back into place. In the end, Dave was able to work it back in and elected to ride the remainder of the descent (albeit a little slower). That my friends is one tough customer.
Conclusions: On descents keep weight back and use front brake judiciously. Increase the margin for error (slow down) if you are on the back end of a grueling ride.
Jim after tangling with
a barb-wire fence and
"cleaning" the wound.
Jim's mishap was not so much a crash as it was a miscalculation.  Treat barb-wire with utmost respect. Get your tetanus shot. And please please do not fill your mouth with water and spit on your open wound in a vain attempt to "clean" the injury. Your mouth is one of the most bacteria infested parts of your body. You are actually better off urinating on it than spitting on it (urine is sterile). You get the picture.

These incidents and numerous other minor bumps and scrapes confirmed that indeed this was an adventure not a video game, that that the human body is glorious and capable of many amazing things, and most importantly it may be the mind that is the real wildcard in all this.  Who would have thought?

"All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast."
     -- unknown

"Get a bicycle.  You will not regret it if you live." 
     – Mark Twain

“Pain is temporary, glory is forever”
      -- unknown


  1. Interesting... that the crashes seemingly shouldn't have happened but like you said with miles and fatigue and speed and different brakes... well there ya go! When are you gonna review the 'fish? - MM

  2. Pain is weakness leaving your body!