Thursday, August 18, 2011

This is going to hurt my neck

My focus glued as a tree rushes closer and closer; my bike sliding out from under me.  I push my bike out and away (to avoid the tree) railing my right shin across the top tube as I clear my bike.  At the last second my hands are free to help brace as I decide the only thing left to do is use my helmet for it's intended purpose.  I break my fixated stare from the tree and, this impact could really do some damage to my neck.

Suddenly I stop.  I managed to dig enough to stop short of the tree.  I open my eyes.  Is that a bike part??  My first thought was I wasn't the first to take a dive in this spot.  But no, it was a pine cone.  I shake off the fall and pop up... I'm ok (I tell myself).  My shin starts throbbing and as I look down (I'm in luck, no open wound) I can see it start to balloon up.  Ugh, is that going to explode in a bloody mess all over the trail??

I shift my focus to my bike.  I managed to avoid the tree, but how did the trail treat it?  My front wheel is completely turned around, I pick up my bike and straighten things out.  As I spin the front wheel I see a slight wobble... great!  But then I notice a nice explosion of sealant all over the sidewall.  No tear, but the impact must have burped the tire, but it sealed back up.  I check things out and it seems the wobble is in the tire only as it was unseated on impact... I can deal with that.

Decision time... forge forward (hoping this turns out to be a loop and sends me back to my pterodactyl) or turn around.  I don't think my shin is going to explode so I push forward... ultimately coming to a road and having to back track.  Not wanting to cut my ride short, I ended up taking another trail back to the pterodactyl which included some step downhill - with a sore shin and a shaken ego - that I had to take gingerly.

This was my ride at Wells State Park.  It was a decent little place.  Little being key.  Not much mileage available, but classic New England trails with some rocky climbing and some sweet descents.  I thought I'd stop there on my way back from Connecticut to check things out.  Not a place I'd drive to just to ride, and not sure if it could be a pit stop on back and forths from my parent's house (parking is $2 - and I'm not sure it's really worth multiple trips).

A taste of the trails:

BUT - what was great about this ride was the crash.  That might sound crazy, but let me tell you why I see the crash as a good thing.  I haven't had an injury on the bike in a while now (knock on wood... wait, I guess it's too late...) and that is a result of two things.  First, I'd like to think that my confidence and bike handling skills are improving so I am able to avoid silly mistakes and am better able to manage technical terrain.  The second reason may be because I haven't been pushing my limits enough??

Before the crash I was flying down a trail.  Enjoying the heck out of the ride, and not content with letting gravity pull me, I cranked up the gears and pushed the HiFi faster.  THIS IS RIDING!  It was such a blast.  Catching some air off a rock I saw a left turn coming in the trail.  Take it wide and hit the roots? Or take it tight and ride over a nice smooth rock?  I honed in on the rock and took it at speed - did I forget to mention it poured the previous day??  The back wheel slide out and the rest is history.  Had I not been pushing the limits I am certain I wouldn't have lost control.  But without pushing the limits you don't know your full potential... you don't know what the actual limit is.

Am I bummed I crashed, nah.  Does my shin hurt, yeah.  But I live to ride another day.

Story by Pictures:

Arrow shows intended path

Rear wheel slippage

Circle indicated final resting place of head.
Notice the leaves pushed up from "forearm brake"

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