My body is emitting signs that yesterday was a rough day. I am stiff with a dull pain in my legs. And a new gash on my shin doesn’t look as bad as it feels. Ahh yea, the gash, the crash.
My initial laps in the day’s effort provided me with enough mishaps to kill my confidence that I even raced mountain bikes let alone at a level higher then beginner. My first lap on the new course at Marshall Mountain was dismal. I ran off the trail just past a scary looking jump on the “easy” way. I freaked out and walked down a headwall like a big baby. Then I miss judges some drops before just walking the last section that looked a lot like the Mount Snow course of my past. I always hated Mount Snow and after a couple broken noses, concussions, and getting knocked out it was no wonder. I thought, “great, another course I am afraid of”.
On the second lap I just walked everything so as to “asses” how I would ride them. At the end of that lap I talked to someone working on the trail and in doing so got the feeling that the head wall was just a “skidder”. So I vowed on the next lap to give it a go.
There is that moment before a crash where you know your ass is grass and time slows down. Each second is like 5 entire minutes of thought. Things like wondering where I will land. How my body should be positioned when contacting the ground. I not only think about but visualize the days following the accident. The big come back and rehabilitation. There are scenes of calling a helicopter to extract my body when a trail worker finds me with a broken neck. Also there are little safety meetings were I discuss with myself how to plant my head as to avoid another concussion. Throw in some life flash backs and some stern self-thrashings about how “you shouldn’t be this daring at your age”. After about 10 crash minutes (about 3.5 seconds) the initial body parts start contacting some earth elements.
First I decided to grab that tree that just whizzed past my head. I cringed at the thought of breaking my handlebars or ripping the hydraulic brake levers to bits. Turns my tree grabbing aim is not so good as my shoulder contacted it instead. Then my bike decided to save itself and used me as a crash pad. It was like the bike was angry at me for doing this to it and thrusted its front chain ring solidly into my shin. I fell down around the base of the tree like a tree skirt during christmas. My yard sale items were the gifts.
I laid at the base of the tree until I realized my mommy wouldn’t come running to pick me back up. I moaned and groaned just in case a passerby would come upon me and think my crash was not the most amazing accident they had ever seen. Apparently I was alone and had to pick my self up, slowly, and limped down the trail, my complaints falling on deaf ears.
“I tried that headwall section”, I said to the trail worker I encountered earlier.
“Yea? How did that work out?”
“Not so good, I crashed … HARD”
“Wow, that’s going to be a huge contusion”
I finished up the lap and decided that I needed to either put on my big boy panties or go home with my tail between my legs. I stopped off at my cooler for some ice and a ace bandage. After making a cold compression that would endure abusive riding I set fourth on another lap. There was shooting pain but overall I was amazed that I didn’t get hurt much worse. Needless to say I spent the rest of the day practicing my dismount and downhill running technique. No way I wanted to try and ride that thing again.
Around hour 3 or 4 Sam Schultz came whistling by me and I thought, “great a playmate”. I let him get a tad ahead and went into chase mode. I brought the heart rate to new highs and suffered greatly for three laps. Finally there was no sign of Sam. The dude is pretty fast. Damn world cuppers.
In the end I perfected the entire loop except for the headwall where I had no issues getting off and plunging down the hill on foot. The numbers are like this, 14 laps for 35 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing. My entire day is at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/92115133 and my best lap http://connect.garmin.com/activity/92152748.