Sometimes You Hit the Trail, Sometimes the Trail Hits You

5:54 AM

We all have off days every once in a while – a day where nothing seems to go right on the bike.  When this happens on a road ride you feel like crap and probably cut the ride short.  On a mountain bike ride you end up in the dirt. 

The problem with Wednesday’s ride is that I didn’t know I was having an off day until I wound up on my hands and knees spitting out dirt and blood.  (Don’t worry, it wasn’t bad.)  I was actually feeling great as we ripped along the trail – the conditions were nice and tacky and rain was coming, so I was ready to enjoy an evening of rocks on the main trail at Leb and the berms in the skills park. 

The first crash, when it happened, was sudden and unexpected.  It was a part of the trail I loved – ideally set up for pumping to gain speed through some gentle curves – but a bit of trail work left some loose dirt, and I stupidly hit it with too much weight on the front wheel.  The wheel slid out, and I was launched over the bars.  A friend I was riding with called out from around the trail, “Are you ok?”

I raised my head off the ground and realized, with relief and thanks, that I was leaning on my elbows, “…I don’t know…”  Gingerly, I touched my front teeth and looked at my hand, “there’s blood…”

There is always that terrible few seconds where you don’t know what you are dealing with – bruises or worse?  In a moment I was on my feet wheeling my arms around to ensure everything was in place.  Dirt everywhere, blood from a cut on my lip, and some trail rash on my wrist and elbow: shaken, but fine.

Someone should invent an “Off Day” warning light for your handlebars.  Sure, I should have paid attention to the signs, but I was having so much fun just minutes before.  Besides, it was such a stupid crash – clearly an anomaly. 

When I landed barely clear of my bike the second time (another stupid end-o crash, a log feature with a drop at the end) there was no ignoring it.  By the time I was on my feet (slower now) the Spouse was there with the right words, “You’re having an off day.  And you haven’t had an off day in awhile.”  At times it is important to do a little post-crash analysis – What did I miss?  What could I have done differently?  Should I try the feature again right now? – and at other times it is just best to call it a day, actively amnesia-tize the experience (yes, I made a new verb there), and ride out the trail.

What did I do for Wednesday’s ride?  Nothing…didn’t ride at all… 

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