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1109 Views 14 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  AK Chris
Please indulge me whilst I get a bit sappy here, I'll return to my smartass self shortly.

I'm trippin' on what I witnessed saturday in regards to JOD's injury.

I went on a long ride XMAS day, solo. I needed to just be alone with my thoughts and work through the previous days events.

We play in a risky game. It's a dance on a fine line between something catastrophic, something life threatening, and pure unadulterated, grin inducing, bliss.

We know the risks and it's an activity that we need, we desire, we crave. It's an addiction that few of our non mountain biking friends and family can even begin to comprehend.

If I didn't have my bicycle, I'm fairly certain I would be involved in some unhealthy addiction. I just have that type of personality. I need to immerse myself in these types of things.

This latest addiction, bicycles......well, let's just say it's my form of anti depressants.

Anyway, I get a lot of crap from friends and loved ones about riding solo. Don't get me wrong, I do a lot of group rides. They're a blast. I've made some great friends.

But, I also need solo rides. Long, slow paced, meandering...solo rides. It's when I work through the SH*T in my head.

Seeing JOD in so much pain, and then watching as the Helo carried her off saturday was quite sobering.

I thought about a lot of stuff on yesterday's XMAS ride. I backed it way down.

Whew....OK.. I just needed to get that out of my system. Where's that F'n Fo SnitZZle? Let's beat on him.


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A few years ago my 22 year old daughter tried to kill herself -- twice. I had a business partner that had the financial savy of a turnip. There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't worry about survival; hers, mine, my business. I thought I'd build her a "bike" (Jamis Sport)so she and I could ride the walking trails together. (I had an old Diamondback w a Mag 20).
Well, she didn't care much for the biking but I figured I liked it enough to buy a FS bike. Over the next 3 years as she worked out her issues (successfully, thank God), I realized that biking was the vehicle to free me from my demons. I'm "older" so no one I hung with was interested in extreme mtn biking and the local bikers, although great guys, were way faster, with more endurance than I. So many of my rides are solo. Gut wrenching, heart pounding 2 hour adventures with very little spinning. Mostly rocky, rooty challenges with short steep ledge climbs and a few scary drops (for me) alone.

This latest addiction, bicycles......well, let's just say it's my form of anti depressants.

My point? As Aqua mentions the focus and intensity of solo riding forces the **** out of my head and the endorphens do the rest. When I read the post of JOD's accident my solo riding habits popped into my head and I quickly dismissed the idea of curtailing my solo rides or sticking to the walking paths. This activity can be dangerous but so can any other activity where you are using your body as a part of a machine's operating system; i.e., motorcycle, skateboard, hang glider -- you get the picture. These activities demand complete concentration and offer the same type of emotional reward that comes with our most elevated form of human interaction. But you can do this activity in public.

Just offering this as my recognition of the agony and the ecstasy, Aqua.
Everyone who's heard of JOD's mishap is thinking of her every day and wishing her a rapid recovery.

My quote below applies here.
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Long live long SAFE rides.
I came within 1/4" of losing my right eye last spring when I face-planted after catching a pedal on an alder stump and getting a salmonberry (thin raspberry) cane through my lower eyelid. My eye was full of blood and I could not see out of it for a while. Scary, but luckily for me (as opposed to JOD) I came away with just a scare.

Yes, life is danger. I hope she mends 100% and can still find joy in our amazing sport. I would like to wish a great many, very satisfying (on every level) miles to every one here. And I do mean everyone.
Those long winding rides are that ones that give me a moment of clarity compared to the adrenaline filled high I get when I do the rough stuff. A good balance is important for me to keep it all in perspective.

Aqua, dont get to comfortable, we need to see some huck pics of you on the AquaJones.
Three years ago, I witnessed something that I never hope to see again - my sigoth, Lynda, was T-boned by a car, right in front of my eyes. We were riding to our local trail, via the street, for we decided to stop at a favorite sushi restaurant to cancel a reservation, and on the way over, on a 35mph 2-lane street, a 17 year old kid, decided to make a left turn into his apartment complex at the exact time Lynda was going past. She tried to avoid him, but it was too quick. The car hit her broadside, sending her sideways into the windshield, then the momentum carried her up and over the roof of the car in a slow-motion cartwheel. Her right leg impacted the top edge of the car's rear glass, and bounced her off the roof and onto the pavement adjacent to the now stopped car....Needless to say, I was stunned by seeing our nice weekend ride come to such a violent and otherworldly state. I really thought she was dead when she hit the ground and just laid there....

I tended to her as much as possible til the ambulance came and took us to the hospital. Considering the impact, she escaped with multiple bruises and a badly broken tibia. [FYI - don't go to the hospital on labor day weekend - everyone's on vacation]. After two leg surgeries and two Ti rods, she is back in action - even finished her first Ironman this year [16:49hr]. And best of all, she now rides like a champ again, even though she still has trouble with her leg on occasion. It was tough getting her back on her bike around cars, for a while, but gradually the memory of her accident faded and the joy of biking once again took over - and the look on her face when she gets air [all 6" of it] and asks if I saw it, are may take your friend a shorter time, or longer time to get "it" back, but it will eventually happen - take your time.

Lastly, as for the solo rides - before her accident, I wasn't too concerned with the possibilities, but after her accident, I do take it easier and don't go for the gold, like I would if a buddy was along....I like riding my bike too much to get that last bit of adrenaline....
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I've spent the majority of my riding time out solo. I've worked second shift most of my life, and that's given me mornings to ride, while most 'normal' people are at work. Over the years I've done plenty of charity/organized rides and even rode w/ a club for a couple of years (North County Cycle Club/ Team Spokey Doke).
I have enjoyed group rides. It's wonderful to share the events w/ others. But I can honestly say that I am still very fond of solo riding, and still do a lot of it. For some reason, I really enjoy being out on my own. And to repeat some of the other posts, bicycling is the ONE THING that I've found that helps keep me healthy and happy and burns off the stress and keeps me from drinking TOO MUCH tequila. :eek:
I try to always remind myself of the risks I am taking, often wondering if a puma might drag me off to the bushes and have it's way with me some day. I know just how quick and easy something can go wrong. I would not recommend riding alone to anyone else, yet it's part of who I am.
When it's my time to go, I can only hope that I'm out on a beautiful trail somewhere rather than mangled up in a stupid car accident. I'm in no hurry to die or lose any abilities, but while I'm alive and able, I need to ride.
No one lives forever. Do it while you can.
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What we do is not safe, thats for sure, I could of easily died last July when a car(driven by a 13 year old) literally ran me over and I was pinned under the car, there was a moment I thought I was going to die. Instead, I had a broken ankle and a bad would that still has not fully healed but I'm riding and I can snowboard and hike and do everything else I like to do-I'm sooo thankful.

Aqua- you didn't say how it happened, it looks like from the pics she tried to launch that rock above her. I imagine she will ride a bit timid when she heals, maybe she will even give up the more techy stuff so she doesn't risk any more damage to her neck. Hopefully she fully heals and can ride her bike!

BTW, the guy that was riding with me that day and witnessed the car run over me and heard my screams from under the car still has nightmares about the accident, I think he was more traumatized than I was to be honest.
I totally know what your friend is talking about when he says he still has nightmares about seeing you mashed by that car....It's one thing to actually be "in" the accident, but another thing entirely to be adjacent to it and not able to do anything, but watch it happen....its horrible.
re-occurring theme here:

The people we care for are way more important than the activities we enjoy.

Sometimes life gives us reminders about this. Getting to know my daughter has been mine- I don't get to ride as much as I used to, I have to walk a few climbs that I used to ride. But, she is here and I wouldn't trade any amount/quality of riding for her. Now, when I blow up on a ride that used to be no problem, I think of her and suddenly I am having fun again.
All these incidents are very sobering. I've witnessed friends break their bones and recently, helped an old man who broke his hip on a tech descent. I sprintiedto the trail head and guided rescuers to the location of the injured man, who appeared to be having a tromendous internal bleeding. Lucky for me it has been only cuts and bruises (a lot of both, I should add). I do most of my riding solo, as well, while I enjoy the presence of riding buddies and learning from them, as well as teaching, I, like those of you who ride solo, love the clarity of thought the lone rides bring to my mind. It is reminiscent of rock climbing, which I gave up after too many close calls. I definatelly tone down my riding when I am out there alone, knowing that if something was to happen, help would be much more difficult to come by.

I think that the awareness of the danger helps in avoiding it, as all my accidents have happened when I wasn't paying attention to the peril at hand.

A couple years back I had a buddy (still do) just about kill himself on a training ride. I wasn't a long for this one, but another friend witnessed the whole thing. We all have ridden this trail almost everyweekend, and many of us two to three times during the week, for the past 5 years or so. There's a section of steep downhill, not real technical but with three large whoops on the way down, you can easily pick up speed to the sum of about 25mph down this thing in a very short amount of time. He hit the second whoop and his rear end bucked a bit, scary thing was he never took my advice and kept his QR's tight enough. His rear wheel fell out, he panicked grabbed a fistful of front brake, and planted hard. His face was hamburger, he cracked his T12 vertebrae because his eggbeaters didn't release and the bike about folded him in half the wrong way, and he was unconcious for a good two minutes.

I think everyone here has a story about a friend crashing, or maybe even themselves crashing and hurting themselves badly. It's the nature of the sport, there's risk, and there's potential to kill yourself. But there's also risk in getting out of bed in the morning, picking up the cat, or even petting your dog.

I ride solo, always have and probably always will. I'll ride with others, but it's more relaxing for me to ride alone. It's part of the sport. Heck I usually don't make an important decision sitting around my apartment, it's usually made about the middle of a two hour solo ride. My last job and this job both were decided on out on a solo adventure in Medora!!

I wish JOD the best and hope she finds her way back onto her bike soon. Take it slow and don't force it, that's how you hurt yourself again.

happy trails...

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Ι know how you feel Aqua ..... it is events like these that make us realise that sometimes our lives or even our are at risk.

I saw riding buddy of mine being killed when a car just drove into him ... I was shocked and vowed never to ride on the street ..... but here I am now riding solo on my road bike.

I also had a similar experience in the trails where another rider attempted something way beyond him and crashed head first into the ground - I can still hear the thump. We called the ambulance and he was lucky to escape with bruises and scratches. But I still ride solo - nothing better to clear up the mind and to have 'quality time' with your inner-self. I am a bit more careful when I am alone in the trails and will not try anything stupid.

Its part of the game.. I will not give up my bikes ... without them I would still smoke 40-a-day and be way way overweight. I will take the risks associated with cycling, in order to minimise the risks associated with 'modern life'.

Keep riding !!
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Live the way you want to

I think about this stuff a lot too.

I commute by bike a lot, both on and off-road and friends and work-mates who drive comment on how dangerous this is (ironically due to the motor traffic they contribute to), but the fact is I'm fitter than they are, my commute is a joy rather than a chore and my mind is (kinda) refreshed and envigorated by the experience.

We've all had crashes, some of them pretty bad (I know I have and I'm a very restrained rider), but mtbing isn't on the same scale of danger as, say, climbing. I know one guy who had a similar incident to the one described above (wheel coming out) who is now paralized from the waist down, but this only makes me want to ride more; I know he'd be back on the bike if he could and as able-bodied folk we should make the most of the fun available to us.

Bit of a ramble this, sorry, but as the lucky people who have discovered bikes we should go out and embrace the fun both solo and with our friends.

It's sub-zero here with a dusting of snow - time for a solo ride... :^)
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totally agree

Aquaholic said:
We know the risks and it's an activity that we need, we desire, we crave. It's an addiction that few of our non mountain biking friends and family can even begin to comprehend.
I get crap from non-biking friends and family all the time when they see me all bruised/scraped up from a big crash and I just talk about what a great ride it was. I had a sobering moment of my own just a few months ago. It was a sunny Friday in late August, about 70 f outside which is pretty warm in Anchorage that late in the summer. So I decided to go for a hike, a trail here called Bird Ridge. Its a really steep mountain about 20 miles out of town and its a punnisher. Its avalanche country so the slope is a real grinder.

Anyway I started out at about 6 p-m with the intent of going up for about an hour and then back down, I wanted to get back to the car before darkness. It was a fitnees hike so I was huffing it all the way up. After about 45 minutes I stop for some water and to snap some pics and what do I see high tailing it up the trail, but the futhermucker pictured below, a damn brown bear.

So I go up a little further hoping it would get bored and venture off the trail and it didn't. Then as it gets closer I decide to get off the trail a bit and try to go around it, then make my way back onto the trail. FYI I did the whole make noise and wave your arms thin and all it did was allow the damn thing to zero in on where I was. Also, I forgot my gun so all I had was bear spray. Needless to say I was getting pretty nervous.

I thought was was in the clear as I hauled ass down the mountain until I heard the brush rustling behind me and what pops through the grass but that bear and now he's waddling toward me at a pretty good pace. Now I'm freaking out because there's no way I can outrun a bear and I'm way above the treeline so I ahve no cover.

I kept thinking about a park ranger friend of mine that talked about being on bear patrol in Montana. He said if a bear charges to stand your ground and don't flinch, he's been charged dozen's of times and never touched. He's had bears close enough to feel them breathing on him and still unscathed. I don't have ballz that big.

So I jumped behind the one small tree on the slope and figured I could play keep away long enough to hopefully blast the bear in the right place and make a run for it. The bear sat down in the brush about 30 feet from me. I called 911 and told them where I was. The operator said they couldn't get to me because they were doing a water rescue. I told her they couldn't get to me before the bear could.

I just kept thinking if it charges it could close on me in a couple seconds. SH!T!!!!!!! This was also about an hour after I stopped going up so now its after 8 and the sun is going down and I'm a long way from the bottom and losing light fast.

We just sat there for what felt like an eternity, about 15 minutes. I didn't want to get trapped on the slope in the dark with this thing lurking so I decided to get the hell outta there. The brush was as tall as I am so I ducked down and made a run for it. A short time later I could hear the bear behind me, still following me but not in the mood to jump me so I kept going.

I basically fell down the mountain and it took another four hours before I made it to the road. The last two were in complete darkness too, not fun as I was falling off trees crushed by avalanches. Along the way my entire body got cut, bruised, scraped, scratched and my hands and arms got hammered with really big throns from a plant we call Devils Claw.

I left with a 6 inch gash in one shin and a 4 inch gash in the other, which left some pretty hefty scars. I also stopped counting the thorns I was pulling out after about a week when I crossed 70. But I didn't get eaten alive. And in a couple weeks everything but the gashes and some bone bruises underneath them had healed. Did I mention that I was happy to not be a pre-hibernation meal?

I was still pretty spooked for the rest of the season. Everytime I saw a big dark thing out of the corner of my eye on the trail I jumped. I found myself riding a lot faster than usual too, paranoid something was behind me. But I had to keep going out, the rides and hikes are where I do my best thinking.

All my big ideas hit me when I'm riding or running or something like that. Plus its fun, something some people just can't understand. But I took a lot of grief from everyone I know for being out there alone and without a gun which was stupid. It was one of those moments where I really thought this could be the end, like I should call my mom to say hi and such before I made a run for it in case I didn't make it off the mountain.

Needless to say, I wish JOD all of the best. And there are far worse addictions than riding a bike. I think its one of the best addictions one can possibly get hooked on. Ride on.


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