As mountain bikers we pride ourselves on our ability to explore the natural environment whilst chasing that all too familiar rush of adrenaline that accompanies the gravity-fed sport we indulge ourselves in. It is not just enough to head down the trail, but how far can we push the rubber before traction breaks? How far can we push our abilities before we falter? How fast can we rail that corner before the front wheel washes out?
These are all questions we have asked and answered on many occasions and often we find ourselves repeating the question as our skills continue to evolve, to improve and our confidence surpasses our needs. We push ourselves because to stay comfortable is boring, to be safe is boring……..and to not push the limits would be boring. So what happens when the flesh meets the dirt and we are forced to face our own mortality?
Taking the A line
Recently I answered this question for myself when I crashed out taking a gap jump on a trail I knew quite well. The trail was an intermediate level trail and the gap jump had a b line but I always take the A line and had hit this particular jump about a dozen times in the last 2 weeks without issue. The gap jump was on a trail called treedom and as you can see in the picture below it leads to you jumping over the tree and landing on the traverse on the other side.
I was attempting to do a whip and due to the fact that for whatever reason I let my technique falter and I slipped a pedal, this in turn led to me not getting enough boost off the jump and hitting the tree…..the result was unpleasant. Grade 5 AC joint rupture and a minimum of three months off the bike as a result, surgery and a long road ahead.
The road ahead
Despite this recent accident, all I can think about is getting back on the bike, it literally encompasses my entire being…..well perhaps not the entire being, but hey lets not get carried away. So why is that? Why do we always chase the next few minutes on the bike, the next chance to fully unwind?
For many of us it is the desire to fully relax, to allow the trail to fully engulf our minds, to blitz every aspect of concern from our hearts and for just a few short moments…..let the trail be our only concern. It is this absolute ability to clear the mind that makes most adrenaline sports addictive, it is truly the ability to just worry about the trail ahead, the next berm, the next drop, the next gap jump and the next trail. This is true relaxation if you ask me……and you get to share it with your mates.
So perhaps this is why I for one, will ever let an injury get me down, never let a crash scare me off, never let anyone tell me it’s too dangerous and that I’m getting too old for this. The day we give in to our aging beings is the day we allow death to take our lives away….
So as a result my fellow gravity fiends, keep it rubber side down and rail the berms, hit the gaps, send the drops and have a great time with your mates!