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Crash

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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.