Anatomy of a Crash

After a good 14 years of mountain biking, I finally earned my wings on a perfect summer day. The car was packed, and I was ready for the thrill of downhill riding at Seven Springs Mountain. As I pulled onto the interstate, I could hear my phone ringing. It was my wife, Maggie. Thinking I forgot something, I quickly picked up the phone. “I forgot to tell you to be careful out there. Don’t forget how much work we have to do on the house this summer. Have fun, but please don’t get hurt.”

I assured her that I would know my boundaries and ride carefully. Then I shrugged it off, not giving it a second thought. I was too busy thinking about how my test bike, the Trek Scratch, was going to handle the descents and drops.

The view at the mountaintop was exactly what I needed. All of my concerns about home renovations dissipated as I took in the scenery and the fresh mountain air. Although it had been a few years since I’ve ridden a long travel bike on a downhill course, I quickly rekindled my fire for this type of riding. It was my first time riding the downhill trails at Seven Springs since we had to put downhill riding on the backburner due to the time/money required for the sport and our home renovations. Maggie and I used to spend countless summer weekends at Snowshoe Mountain riding and racing their downhill trails. I was pleasantly surprised by what a great job Seven Springs did in packing in a lot of great descents for a smaller mountain.

The riding was excellent, and we got in so many runs that I lost track of how many we logged. Our fun day was nearing its end although I felt like I just got there. On what was planned to be one of the last few runs, I careened down the mountain and playfully passed another rider. Feeling great about the fun descent, I pedaled hard on a section of trail that was completely clear of massive boulders or debris. During the entire day, I could hear Maggie’s words, “Please don’t get hurt.” I took it easy on all of the technical drops and descents. I knew my limits and I wasn’t pushing them.

The great irony here is that as I pedaled hard on that clear section, fulfilling my need for speed and my last great rush of the day, I hit my pedal on a fist-sized rock that was firmly imbedded in the ground. That little rock slammed me straight into the ground. All I remember is hearing the pedal hit and me sliding down the trail on my right side watching another rider approach me. I never let go of the handlebars. I saw purple and red stars. Luckily, or maybe not, my helmet hit a tree and prevented me from sliding any further.

My office buddy, Matt came up to me right away to see if I was okay. He helped me wrestle my helmet off since I was winded and was gasping for air. As I was sitting there assessing the damages, I noticed a lightning bolt traveling down my shoulder. I had earned my wings, a broken collarbone. This blog is a tribute to all those riders who have endured summers off during the peak-riding season.