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Crash

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Crash

The first words that came out of my mouth are not publishable under Canada’s obscenity laws.

The second words were "Whoah," followed by an "Ow!"

I had fallen off my bike. Again.

Having just ridden a few rocky sections of trail I’d had trouble with in the past, and goaded on by a friend with complete faith in my mountain biking abilities, I went for broke on a steep and rocky stretch of gully. And broke I got.

I wasn’t badly hurt, thanks to my trusty helmet and the fact that I somehow missed the more jagged rocks in the area when my front wheel jerked sideways and I flew over the handle bars. As it went, my head smashed into a boulder, and my body dropped onto some rocks.

Aside from a few cuts and scrapes, and a purplish bruise on my forehead reminiscent of Mikhail Gorbachev, I was really pretty much okay to keep on going. Not that I had a choice in the matter – there’s no way off the trail except to keep on riding.

But to use the popular expression of the day, I "put my balls back in my mama’s purse" and took it relatively slow and easy until I was back on Valley Trail.

Without a helmet, I might have emptied the steaming contents of my brain pan all over a chunk of limestone, but mentally I felt pretty good after the crash. I endo-ed on a rocky section and all I had to show for my troubles were a few scabs and bruises. My bike was okay. And I was confident that my sub-conscious would process the whole experience at some cognitive level and correct the flaws in my riding that led to the endo. Live and learn, I say. Get back on that horse. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. No pain, no gain. Sacrifice your body today and you will be reborn tomorrow.

Clichés aside, riding bikes is all about falling down and getting back up again. I know this because I’ve been falling off bikes my whole life.

In fact, when the training wheels were taken off my first bike, the first thing I did was ride straight into the bumper of a parked car.

One time I was dirt jumping on my BMX and the front tire fell off in mid-air. The forks planted, I flew, and it took a wire brush to get all the gravel out.

Once while riding a 10-speed down the street – look ma, no hands – the grocery bag I was holding got caught in my back wheel. My friend and witness said I slid about five feet on the concrete before grinding to a bloody halt.

One night I hit a chain fence they strung across the entrance of a park to keep cars out while riding at full speed. Everything hurt after that crash, but my jeans took the worst of the asphalt.

For some sick reason people love bike crash stories, at least the ones that have happy endings – e.g. the victim gets up and walks or rides away. Real tragedies do take place, but fortunately they’ve been outside of my circle of friends.

Two of the funniest bike accidents I’ve ever seen – not being able to witness any of my own crashes – involved friends of mine. And even they weren’t all that funny right away.

For the first crash of them I have to take you back to grade school when everybody had a BMX bike and there were dirt jumps in every schoolyard. My friend Mike and I were out jumping one day, maybe getting a foot off the ground, when we decided we needed to go bigger.

We piled more and more dirt onto the jump without compensating for the flat landing. Lucky for me, Mike decided to hit it first.

He lined that sucker up from about 50 yards away, pedalling like a madman, with a fierce look of determination on his face. He used to stick his tongue out of the side of his mouth whenever he was feeling intense, and it’s a wonder to this day how he never bit it off.

Mike hit the jump at speed, but instead of going up he went out, the jump we built compacting beneath him. He landed on his front wheel and held on for a fraction of a section before he disappeared into a ball of dust. He flew, the bike flew, the dirt and stones flew, and somehow all three came together in mid-air.

I ran over to where Mike was trapped under the bike to see if he was okay. He definitely was not.

Somehow he had managed to wedge his upper lip between the bike chain and the gear. One cog was completely buried into his lip, and two more had broken skin and were threatening to push out. He had dirt in his mouth, which he was trying to push out with his tongue.

"Hold on," I said, and grabbed the nearest pedal. My idea was to pedal backwards, completely forgetting that on his bike you had to pedal backwards to activate the brakes.

I don’t know if I made things worse, but I definitely made the wounds bleed harder before I came to my senses.

I ran down the nearest street, and found an old man who was working in his garage. He brought some tools to the scene, and after about 10 minutes we managed to free Mike’s lip and take him to the hospital for stitches and a tetanus shot.

The scars from the incident are long gone, but the lip protrudes to this day.

The second incident occurred while a couple of friends were doubling to school on an old junker of a bike. Jay stood and pedalled while Chris sat on the seat looking bored.

They were coming down a hill that leads to my high school when suddenly the bike seat tilted backwards, dropping Chris onto the spinning tire.

Did I mention he was wearing thin shorts?

Chris landed on the tire, which grabbed ahold of his backside and propelled his crotch forward into the braking assembly. Once Chris’ own, and considerably more delicate, assembly was well into the brake system, the bike skidded to a sudden halt.

Jay flew over the handlebars onto the asphalt and rolled to our feet, but we didn’t pay much attention to him. Our eyes were on Chris, who was tipping sideways in slow motion, a horribly pained look on his face.

His assembly was jarred again when he fell, and with an anguished scream he quickly detached himself from the bike and curled up into the fetal position. We asked if he was okay and he told us in no uncertain terms to back off.

After about five minutes, he was on his way to the school nurse’s office. Five minutes after that he was on his way to the hospital. By then everybody in the whole school heard what happened.

Jay was pretty scraped up, but in the grand scheme of things he got off lucky. Chris was okay physically with a few awkward cuts and scrapes, but mentally? To my memory I never saw him on a bike ever again.

The moral of these stories? Wear a helmet, preferably one with a face shield. You also might want to tighten your bike seat now and then.

Crash

The first words that came out of my mouth are not publishable under Canada’s obscenity laws.

The second words were "Whoah," followed by an "Ow!"

I had fallen off my bike. Again.

Having just ridden a few rocky sections of trail I’d had trouble with in the past, and goaded on by a friend with complete faith in my mountain biking abilities, I went for broke on a steep and rocky stretch of gully. And broke I got.

I wasn’t badly hurt, thanks to my trusty helmet and the fact that I somehow missed the more jagged rocks in the area when my front wheel jerked sideways and I flew over the handle bars. As it went, my head smashed into a boulder, and my body dropped onto some rocks.

Aside from a few cuts and scrapes, and a purplish bruise on my forehead reminiscent of Mikhail Gorbachev, I was really pretty much okay to keep on going. Not that I had a choice in the matter – there’s no way off the trail except to keep on riding.

But to use the popular expression of the day, I "put my balls back in my mama’s purse" and took it relatively slow and easy until I was back on Valley Trail.

Without a helmet, I might have emptied the steaming contents of my brain pan all over a chunk of limestone, but mentally I felt pretty good after the crash. I endo-ed on a rocky section and all I had to show for my troubles were a few scabs and bruises. My bike was okay. And I was confident that my sub-conscious would process the whole experience at some cognitive level and correct the flaws in my riding that led to the endo. Live and learn, I say. Get back on that horse. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. No pain, no gain. Sacrifice your body today and you will be reborn tomorrow.

Clichés aside, riding bikes is all about falling down and getting back up again. I know this because I’ve been falling off bikes my whole life.

In fact, when the training wheels were taken off my first bike, the first thing I did was ride straight into the bumper of a parked car.

One time I was dirt jumping on my BMX and the front tire fell off in mid-air. The forks planted, I flew, and it took a wire brush to get all the gravel out.

Once while riding a 10-speed down the street – look ma, no hands – the grocery bag I was holding got caught in my back wheel. My friend and witness said I slid about five feet on the concrete before grinding to a bloody halt.

One night I hit a chain fence they strung across the entrance of a park to keep cars out while riding at full speed. Everything hurt after that crash, but my jeans took the worst of the asphalt.

For some sick reason people love bike crash stories, at least the ones that have happy endings – e.g. the victim gets up and walks or rides away. Real tragedies do take place, but fortunately they’ve been outside of my circle of friends.

Two of the funniest bike accidents I’ve ever seen – not being able to witness any of my own crashes – involved friends of mine. And even they weren’t all that funny right away.

For the first crash of them I have to take you back to grade school when everybody had a BMX bike and there were dirt jumps in every schoolyard. My friend Mike and I were out jumping one day, maybe getting a foot off the ground, when we decided we needed to go bigger.

We piled more and more dirt onto the jump without compensating for the flat landing. Lucky for me, Mike decided to hit it first.

He lined that sucker up from about 50 yards away, pedalling like a madman, with a fierce look of determination on his face. He used to stick his tongue out of the side of his mouth whenever he was feeling intense, and it’s a wonder to this day how he never bit it off.

Mike hit the jump at speed, but instead of going up he went out, the jump we built compacting beneath him. He landed on his front wheel and held on for a fraction of a section before he disappeared into a ball of dust. He flew, the bike flew, the dirt and stones flew, and somehow all three came together in mid-air.

I ran over to where Mike was trapped under the bike to see if he was okay. He definitely was not.

Somehow he had managed to wedge his upper lip between the bike chain and the gear. One cog was completely buried into his lip, and two more had broken skin and were threatening to push out. He had dirt in his mouth, which he was trying to push out with his tongue.

"Hold on," I said, and grabbed the nearest pedal. My idea was to pedal backwards, completely forgetting that on his bike you had to pedal backwards to activate the brakes.

I don’t know if I made things worse, but I definitely made the wounds bleed harder before I came to my senses.

I ran down the nearest street, and found an old man who was working in his garage. He brought some tools to the scene, and after about 10 minutes we managed to free Mike’s lip and take him to the hospital for stitches and a tetanus shot.

The scars from the incident are long gone, but the lip protrudes to this day.

The second incident occurred while a couple of friends were doubling to school on an old junker of a bike. Jay stood and pedalled while Chris sat on the seat looking bored.

They were coming down a hill that leads to my high school when suddenly the bike seat tilted backwards, dropping Chris onto the spinning tire.

Did I mention he was wearing thin shorts?

Chris landed on the tire, which grabbed ahold of his backside and propelled his crotch forward into the braking assembly. Once Chris’ own, and considerably more delicate, assembly was well into the brake system, the bike skidded to a sudden halt.

Jay flew over the handlebars onto the asphalt and rolled to our feet, but we didn’t pay much attention to him. Our eyes were on Chris, who was tipping sideways in slow motion, a horribly pained look on his face.

His assembly was jarred again when he fell, and with an anguished scream he quickly detached himself from the bike and curled up into the fetal position. We asked if he was okay and he told us in no uncertain terms to back off.

After about five minutes, he was on his way to the school nurse’s office. Five minutes after that he was on his way to the hospital. By then everybody in the whole school heard what happened.

Jay was pretty scraped up, but in the grand scheme of things he got off lucky. Chris was okay physically with a few awkward cuts and scrapes, but mentally? To my memory I never saw him on a bike ever again.

The moral of these stories? Wear a helmet, preferably one with a face shield. You also might want to tighten your bike seat now and then.