Yesterday, I was riding bikes on a new trail that has been recently built and opened for mountain biking at a local state park. I nearly went over the handlebars after coming off a rock. Thank goodness I didn’t touch the front brake or I would have had been paying a handsome flesh tax. The reason I didn’t touch the front brake was because of experience, an experience I will never forget if only I could remember what happened.
Picture it, it was a hot July day in 2010 at a wonderful slice of paradise called Tanasi located on the bank of the Ocoee River in Southeastern Tennessee. A couple of months earlier, I met a group of guys at the local state park that were always riding bikes there at time I ride. So, I got to know them and started riding with them and then they invited me to this wonderful paradise for a weekend of camping and 50-100 miles of epic bike riding. There was three of us including me, a fourth one would arrive later that night and ride with us the next day. We arrived to Thunderock Campground in the Cherokee National Forest (Tanasi is part of the Cherokee National Forest) and set up camp. After setting up camp we started loading up on nutrition and water, then prepared the bike for at least 25 miles before dark. And we planned to ride at dark with some powerful lights. Since I have never been here, I was giving a map and a laminated post card with the route for this evening ride in-case we got separated. We rode and we rode, I never got separated from my two riding partners until my rear derailleur decided it wasn’t up for the task. I was having some technical issues with a key component and it was causing the chain to jump all over the cassettes, and one of the guys, we call him Bike Doctor, he had tools on him and we made some adjustments and rode on. We will call the other guy Goatman, so we all continued riding and I rode some incredible trails such as the Quartz Loop which was amazing, it had cairn stones stacked all along the trails.
Anyway, fast forward to the final 1.5 miles of the evening ride. Goatman and Bike Doctor stopped at the trail head of Thunder Rock Express to give me some friendly advice and warnings. Apparently this trail is 1.5 miles of solid downhill with some nasty placed rocks and humps. They decided to take the lead and I will follow. The first few minutes I’m like this isn’t too bad and once I passed an opening section it was game on. The trail quickly started living up to its billing and I tried to control my speed. After a sharp banked turn, I picked up some considerable speed and then it all happened. I went over a hump and I must have landed on my front wheel with rear wheel off the ground, then proceed to squeezed the front brake. I actually have no recollection of touching the front brakes, hint the reason in the first paragraph I wish I could remember. Something stopped my front wheel, it could have been the brake, a badly placed stump, or whatever. After the front wheel stopped, I FLEW at least 4 yards over the handlebars and hit my head on ground first, then my shoulder caught the ground and I proceed to slide and roll forward on the ground until I was sitting on my ass. (I did say a few cuss words while I was airborne, but that didn’t really help soften the blow of the ground.) As I sat there my head was spinning and hurting; my shoulder was in pain and I couldn’t even move it. My head felt concussed and I knew this because I have suffered a concussion for 3 weeks before. I thought my shoulder was broken or something because I couldn’t even move it. My arm was shredded to pieces as I was bleeding and covered in dirt. After 15 minutes my head quit spinning enough for me get on bike and roll back to campsite, as I did this my two riding partners came to the rescued. They had been sitting at the end of trail for few minutes and thought something was wrong when I didn’t arrived in a timely manner. I told them all what happened and we roll back to campsite and did some first-aid. My arm was ripped to shred, my hip was also cut up and in pain, I could barely move my shoulder, my head was hurting. I loaded up on over-the-counter pain pills and cleaned the wounds up. We also cancelled the night ride and relaxed under the full moon of a warm summer night.
I didn’t sleep at all that night due to the pain on my entire left side of my body, it was just too uncomfortable. The next morning I was asked if I could do another 20 some miles to other side of Tanasi on a section known as Brush Creek. I got on my bike and had regained movements of my shoulder but the pain still linger and my head was no longer hurting. I proceed to ride 24 miles that second day and at the end of the ride my pains were no longer lingering due to the adrenaline, so I think? I packed my tent up and went home after that ride and soaked in hot bath for 3 days on an ibuprofen binge.
The above is pictures of my helmet after the crash and my bandaged wound on the second day.