Experiencing a mountain bike crash.
‘Mr. Rock, meet Mr. Helmet and his friend, Mr. Shoulder. That guy back there, that’s Mr. Shin. You will meet him in a millisecond.
“Ouch, Mr. Rock, you have a grating personality, and Mr. Shin is now sporting a bright-red raspberry.”
I lay there stunned, but it quickly faded into an adrenaline-induced grin after I had crashed my mountain bike in the Owyhees.
I was deftly dancing through a garden of grapefruit-sized rocks enjoying the sweet spot of speed and momentum as my full-suspension bike bounced through the rocks. Then Mr. Rock and Mr. Front Tire had a falling out.
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Gravity’s ornery influence took over, and I had an up-close-and-personal meeting with Mother Earth that may have violated some Southern morality laws.
But it was a lucky crash. It was over before I knew it was coming, and the pain came and went in a flash.
Considering what could happen when you face plant in a rock patch, I felt pretty good. Honestly, I felt great.
How come there was a jolt of elation after a jolt with terra firma?
Mr. Brain, meet Mr. Endorphin.
It’s a natural process our bodies use to combat pain and stress. Endorphins are released into the brain and nervous system, and there’s a temporary feeling of elation. Endorphins are also responsible for “runner’s high” people (usually runners) talk about.
That’s not my style. I am not an endurance guy. I would probably get bored or annoyed long before I reached any euphoric state.
But if I get it after digging a divot in the desert with my head, I will take it. I certainly don’t recommend it to others, nor do I do it intentionally, but I figure it’s like a rebate after paying the stupid tax.
I am no stranger to crashing. As long as I can remember I’ve ridden bicycles, skateboards, dirt bikes, snowboards and other crash-inducing devices.
I like to push my personal limits, whether climbing a steep hill that burns my lungs and taxes my legs, or bombing down the other side and dancing with gravity’s dark side.
I know as long as I keep doing it, a crash is inevitable, and so are the accompanied bumps, bruises, breaks and scrapes.
I accept that risk as part of the game. I also know the crash is just a down payment in the pain department, and it can be financial as well as physical.
I ripped a big gash in my riding jacket, peppered holes in my Capilene long underwear top, and my shoulder had a little paint splatter of blood.
And while the initial pain was fleeting, there were less-than gentle reminders ahead.
Mr. Sagebrush’s branches found it amusing to give high-fives to Mr. Raspberry at every turn in the twisty trail. It was like electric shocks advising me that maybe I should dial back the aggressive riding in the early season.
At the end of the trail, I also discovered the fleeting nature of endorphins. I used all my runner’s high in one heady dose. As I pedaled uphill through sand and into a brisk wind, high was not an adjective that came to mind. Mr. Tough Guy had met Mr. Bonk.
When I finally arrived back at my truck, I was overdue to be done. I loaded my bike in the truck and was glad to be pushing a gas pedal instead of bike pedals.
When I got home, I grabbed a bottle of hydrogen peroxide from under the bathroom sink and poured it on my calf because I didn’t want Mr. Raspberry to meet Mr. Staph Infection.
If I thought the sagebrush high fives stung, this pulse of pain was followed by a lingering burn with a hint of tickle thrown into the neuron cocktail.
I hopped around on my good leg and cursed a few choice words.
Still having fun? Not really, but I couldn’t complain. I brought it on myself, and it could have been a lot more painful.
If this is the worst that happens in future crashes, I will be fine with it, and maybe even a little elated.