I am 98{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} man…

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… and 2{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} Mendip. There is an intense moment of silence which follows the bangs and crashes of a big stack, and into that noise void dropped the thought that I’d completely screwed up less than a mile into my first lap. My plan had been simple; easy spin up the first climb, get a decent sighter of the downhills, and don’t race anyone – especially those with constipated expressions and lean bodies.*

Like all hastily conceived plans, it overlooked a integral component of a successful execution. And that component was my mechanical prowess when performing the complex task of correctly inflating the front tyre. This new boot took one look at gravity driven singletrack and decided to take its’ rubbery business elsewhere. Specifically a swift ‘see ya’ to the rim before flailing around the fork in a mildly comedic manner.

For anyone watching, anyway. I was struggling to find any time to see the funny side as the next few seconds were packed full of incident. If your car tyre ever punctures at high speed, the deceleration process is both rapid and uncontrolled. Now try that crossing rocky ground with half the number of wheels and at one tenth of the width. And that wheel is handling both steering and braking.

Except, of course, it isn’t doing anything of the sort. The front wheel immediately tucked under pitching me headlong over the bars, into a landing zone of spiky rocks and tough looking trees. This was the full crash experience – Surprise, terror, impact, pain, bounce, impale, roll and more pain. Then the silence. Then the ‘what the fuck happened there?’. Then the full systems check as body parts checked in with various degrees of damage. Finally time for a decent groan, after a cautious move to semi prone breaches the adrenaline/pain barrier.

Important to focus on the positive. My smashed up knee from 2006 took a blow right to the centre of the original damage and it’s articulating pretty well. My dislocated shoulder from last year suffered an identical impact as I’d instinctively thrown out a hand and – aside from some desultory bleeding – that’s fine as well. The bike – when I find it over the other side of the track – has some interesting new gouges but appears functionally undamaged. Lots of riders stopped to see if I was still alive, while commenting “woooah, that was a big one”. Which was nice.

The rest of the lap was not nice. I inaugurated myself into the “order of the purple hand” as the lefty changed colour, swelled up and bloody hurt. Refreshingly, all the injuries appeared to be on pedalling centres – ankles, knee and a banana sized rash on my hip. So to summarise; 1 mile completed, can’t use my left hand to brake or change gear, can barely hold the bar and my head feels a bit like it’s been slammed into hard rocks at 15MPH.

Time to MTFU** and get on with it. Which I did although not before two more punctures reduced me to a puncture repair kit and a bloody annoyed expression. The first set of marshalls clapping eyes on my less than pristine person offered me a ride in the broom wagon, but that didn’t seem the right thing to do. And it was with that attitude, I completed that lap and a few more afterwards.

But it was fantastic. Not the crashing but the great cause, the organisation, the course and the other riders out on it. The St. John’s ambulance guys did a fab job of patching me up again, even tho I had to show another grown man my willy as he tutted his way round a couple of deep scabs. I’ll write some more later – about the event not my new found interest in getting my knob out.

I’ve documented my hatred of event racing many times before. And that hasn’t left me, but this event is something I really want to do again. If only to make it past the first descent without barrel rolling down the track. Because then it would make it even better πŸ™‚

Today, a goodly portion of my left side is purple. This is officially the summer colour of 2008, and I’m well ahead of the game what with the Voodoo already being that shade***

* It’s really not meant to be a race. A few people didn’t get that at first, but I’d like to think my pithy comments may have helped to shape their opinion. If you can’t beat ’em, insult the buggers as they fly past.

** Man The Fuck Up.

** It is not pink. A few people also made that mistake during the weekend for which they received a sharp glance and a sharper bit of glass in their tyres.

7 thoughts on “I am 98{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} man…

  1. nickc

    You fall off with a spectacular repetitiveness that I find kinda fascinating…D’you ever feel like you should be doing something less dangerous? Sitting very, very still on the sofa springs to mind…

  2. Alex

    I like to think of it as pushing the envelope. Although soon it’ll be pushing the hospital trolley if it keeps happening.

    To be fair, it’s my first big one for over a year and I’m not sure any level of riding skill could save a catastrophic failure such as the tyre falling off. Mechanical skill however……

    I remember one of the last times I rode with you in the Chilterns, you managed to force the Nicoli into some innocent bushes on an apparently flat bit of trail. That was probably a bit of my crash karma wearing off πŸ˜‰

  3. nickc

    Excellent, I get to blame my crashes on some-one else, it gets better. πŸ™‚

    I had a stall, wobble, fail to get foot out of SPD out quickly enough on Sunday…I had a quick look around, and couldn’t see any-one, so they don’t count, right?

  4. Doug

    Ooooohhh bugger πŸ™ That sounds like it would’ve hurt – lots. Not a big fan of rocks really – they should be left in peace to quietly erode through the eons without being abused by falling riders πŸ™‚

  5. Ian

    Wait til you get to the Forest Al…. if the roots don’t get you the tree stumps will πŸ™‚

    course, I tend to avoid those ‘injury’ situations by riding at just above stall speed anywhere there are gradients, drops, roots, stumps, stinging nettles, gorse or mud, oh and anything which may cause gravel rash style hurt πŸ˜‰

  6. Alex

    I intend to petition the OED with a rambling lexicon of new words related to crashing bikes. Maybe start with “mong” and go from there.

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