Friday, July 17, 2009

“Boy! He sure dodged the bullet…”
“Dude, she like totally lucked out…”
“It was clearly a case of divine intervention…”

Have you ever come face to face with your ultimate fate whilst trapped on a speedy out-of-control bicycle with no hope of recovery? Clarification/definition: To do so, requires one to have had the time to contemplate the after-life as he/she rockets towards certain calamity. In other words, to qualify one must find himself or herself in a situation that allows for consideration of the impending “sudden-stop” and subsequent pain that awaits once the forces of gravity, weight, and momentum have done their work. In contrast, a spontaneous crash, although often times even more physically devastating, does not count because one is not afforded the occasion to consider the consequences and thus experience the mental angst associated with the lag time between the initial event and the end result.

I did experience this phenomenon recently on one of the early laps @ the Levis-Trow 100 miler. Although I crash all the time, this one represents only the second in my career where I was subjected to a drawn out phase, allowing for reflection, before the inevitable. Luck saved me from a very bad outcome, and therefore allows me to personally convey the circumstances in a light-hearted manner. Of course had I been seriously hurt or killed my contemporaries, presumably after an appropriate albeit brief mourning period, would have conveyed it in a similar vein to the able-bodied and/or living. For the writer, the first such crash occurred during the Chequamegon several years back and has been documented, but this recent one is even more forlorn and hopeless and thus bears further explanation.

Visualize if you can an aging amateur cyclist atop a hand-crafted steel Gunnar 29er from the heartland of the Midwest, racing down a fast, widely curving and descending section of smooth single-track. Note that he seems to be attempting to hold on in a way that allows him to lightly grip the machine in a manner that neglects the use of either thumb. In other words, he has placed his hands upon the handlebars such that he is attempting to rest his already fatigued hands. Suddenly without any warning, his front tire hits an unseen divot which begins a chain of events of which he has no control and will certainly leave him on the floor.

As stated above, the tire hits the divot, since he does not have a sufficient grip on the handlebar, his hands in sequence fly off going forward allowing his poorly suited elbows to take charge by coming to rest on the handlebars, which simultaneously causes his torso to lunge forward impaling his belly button onto the stem cap.

So now picture the situation, as it has within a nano-second gone from a scene involving a happy aging amateur cyclist enjoying the sheer thrill of riding fast on a smooth dirt track descent to one of a desperate, pathetically doomed man trying to captain a run away bike solely with his elbows. He is on a straightaway, so before the conclusion, he has ample time to think about his so-called life, his many regrets, his lack of accomplishments, his future colonoscopies, and adult diapers. He hits the corner going fast, seeming to even accelerate once free of the Gunnar, fully aware of what to expect. While airborne, he marvels at the beauty of the forest, then the ground, then the upside-down version of the ground, then forest-tops, then blue sky, as he waits for impact... Once the dust settles a bit, as is often the case, when unsure of the extent of the injuries, he instinctively jumps up and checks for any missing appendages, blood, etc. This time the soft sand saved him and the bike and with nary a brief, "thanks" to his MAKER, he is off again, chasing the impossible dream... So it goes…

If you have one like this, please send it to me, and I will put it up for all to ponder :)

ps See you @ Lincoln Park MTB race tomorrow!!!!

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