Sunday, April 01, 2001
"Stay off your bike for at least two weeks." To me, that was the worst thing the doctor could have said. He said it anyway. OK, sure, it could have been worse. It could have been something like: "You'll be lucky to walk again, let alone ride." Still, it was depressing to hear. With the prime Northwest riding season just getting started, I wanted to be out there discovering new singletrack at every opportunity.
This all started a couple weeks ago when I realized I had been so busy working on DirtWorld and finding new mountain biking adventures to write about that I hadn't ridden the staple of every Seattleite's dirt diet for over a year. So I packed my bike into my car and after work and headed up there -- scratch Tiger off my ever long to-do list.
The mountain bike gods were not on my side that day. They gave me plenty warnings, but like the foolish dirt addict I am, I ignored them. The first warning came when I first grabbed my bike. My back tire was completely flat. No problem, I fixed that and was ready to go. Warning number two: while I was carrying my bike out to my car, I slipped and impaled my left calf on the large chain ring. A perfectly straight line of seven deep puncture wounds on the back of my leg wasn't going to stop me from taking care of my Tiger oversight. The third and final warning was when I discovered I had left my CamelBak at home, sitting in my fridge. I was obviously desperate and delusional since I went on with the ride on that hot and sunny afternoon.
Once on my bike the warnings that are now so clear were the farthest thing from my mind. I charged up the three mile climb at an amazing pace. My time was by far my personal best. Then without missing a beat, my semi-slicks were rolling down the Preston Railroad Trail. "Wow, the BBTC has been doing some great work up here" I thought to myself as I rode over the freshly repaired sections of trail.
Next thing I knew I was at the end of the Preston and screaming down the fire road on my way to the last leg of the journey, the Timberline Trail. I was still setting a blistering pace. I knew I was in the best shape of my cycling life, but this was amazing.
Now on the Timberline I was starting to feel the fatigue, but kept going. Having made it this far with minimal dabs, I was determined to ride the Timberline without touching down at all. "The only problem for me is the switchbacks," I thought to myself. "If I can make those, I'm golden." Switchbacks have always been my nemesis. They somehow psyche me out and become a complete nightmare. Not today I said. With one switchback down, I rode to the next one on the right. In an astonishing brain fart, I found myself riding the inside line which was an impossibility. I quickly endoed and began doing somersaults and flips with my right leg still firmly clipped in. After the impromptu carnival ride was over, I began the painful process of extracting myself from my bike. I was so tangled around its frame I swear it took me several minutes to remove myself. With gashes and bruises all over my body and having twisted most of my joints in innovative new directions that would make a pretzel proud, all I could do was writhe on the ground in pain.
|"The mountain bike gods were not on my side that day."|
Eventually, with help, I made it back to the parking lot and to my car.
Continuing with my stupidity, I didn't see a doctor for several days. My theory was if I don't go to the doctor that means I'm fine. If I'm fine I can ride again. I ended up canceling my next ride at the last minute to see the doctor when I realized I couldn't even bend my leg enough to pedal.
Believe it or not, this story isn't about my crash. I've crashed before and I'll do it again. I'm not trying to write about some unbearable physical pain I endured, some triumph over adversity or even gore. This is really about the pain of those nine words the doctor said to me.
|"Tomorrow, my two wheeled friend, we have a date with some twisty Northwest singletrack." |
This is the first time I've been unable to ride. Sure, I've gone for two weeks without riding before without any problems, but I always could ride if I wanted to.
Today is the last day of those "two weeks." My leg still hurts some, but much less than the pain of not riding.
Tomorrow, my two wheeled friend, we have a date with some twisty Northwest singletrack.