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Archive for August, 2012

Hummmmmmm………

April, 2009: Walking across the arid rocks in Hampi. The dust billows around me and the boulders radiate heat. We’re headed for Endless Bliss or Little Rock or something of the sort. Can’t remember which – there is an endless expanse of climbing possibility in every direction. I step down off a rock. Pain lances through the sole of my foot and I scream. Lift up my heel and try to pull my chappal off. Can’t! A 3-inch thorn has ensured that its nailed to my foot. Blood drips onto the dust…

Hummmmmmm………

2007: I’m standing in the kitchen of my apartment in London. Pots and pans are strewn all over the place. I open the oven to check the baking tray. I forget I don’t have mitts on and I grab the tray. Burn….

Hummmmmmm………

Any number of times in my life: I walk through a doorway. My arm whacks the frame. Elbow makes contact. Shock rockets up my arm. Its electric. I can’t feel a thing for the next 5 minutes.

Hummmmmmm………

June 2012: I’m coming down the dirt track, taking a curve at Turahalli. I take a tight line. Only air beneath me. Roll, roll, roll….. Get up. Crumple in pain.

Hummmmmmm………

September 2005: I’m walking through the clouds which have tolled up the hill in Mussoorie. Its beautiful, cool and silent and I’m lost in thoughts. A few hours later I curl up into a foetal ball and cry, wishing the world would invent a cure for kidney stones.

Hummmmmmm………

Sweat breaks out on my forehead and drips down into my eyes. I stare at the wall in front of me. Alex tattoos – a poster with a design which I study intently. I watch the lines unfold in a polynesian design. I see designs within the design. I stare at a stain on the wall. I look at my toes and watch them climb up the wall. I breathe deeply.

I do anything to take my mind off the needle buzzing through the skin on the back of my hand. Anything to take my mind off the pain – every kind of pain I’ve ever experienced, all rolled into a series of experiences over the course of 3 inches of skin, bone and nerve. Anything to ensure I don’t jerk my hand away while he works.

Why, oh WHY, did I choose to do something as idiotic as this, on what is considered the most painful part of the body to tattoo?!?!

I look across at The Better Half and I see the same range of emotions cross her face.

I look at the cl0ck.

It reads 7:05. Its just been 5 minutes!

How will I last the whole two hours?

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Last ride

Hangin’ out at the top of the rock shortly before…

A few days after the last ride which I wrote about, I headed back to Turahalli to shake off some rust, practice my new downhilling skills and also give my new Marzocchi a chance to open up a bit.

Day 1 went off pretty well and I was really starting to enjoy the freedom that a 140mm fork affords you. A freedom that can only be appreciated if you’re jumping up the chain from a base-level xc fork.

Day 2 saw me without riding buddies and this is usually considered inadvisable particularly when downhilling well out of town. But, me being stubborn and obsessed, I decided to head out by myself, having told a friend that I would be there.

Landed up there and started hitting the run pretty decently. In fact, I was stoked. The lines were unfolding and flowing, my new tires gripped like a mangle and I felt like I was riding a whole new bike. I wasn’t even trying and yet I could feel each run getting quicker. I was starting to pump the fork, jump little rocks and use the sidewalls of the trail as a berm, whenever I could. In short, it was a heckuva rush.

At some point I got a call from a friend saying he’d like to join me there but that it would take some time. I’d already done the usual two or three rides and section-wise practice and was ready to head home in a bit. But, I was feeling pretty good and decided to hang around till he arrived. I rode a bit, then climbed to the top of the run and caught a nap on the rock with a number of kites within striking range.

Life was great!

The friend landed up, we grabbed something to eat which he had brought along and we hit the trail again. Two great rides later, I was ready to pack it in but he, having come that far, wanted to ride another. So I decided to join him. By this time I had clocked about 6 runs and multiple sections which is more than twice what we usually do. But, what with the weather being great and me feeling like life was more flow than ebb, I decided to do one more.

And then I said it,”Last run of that day man. We head home after this.”

He had a somewhat stricken expression on his face but I thought nothing of it.

Locked. Loaded. Roll off the rock. Head on down.

Took the first section well and hit the first bend. Decided to try a new line which was tighter than usual what with me feeling confident on my new tyres and all.

Turned right, into the bend.

Front wheel drops out from under me.

I fall to my right.

Stick out my hand and take the impact on the corner of my right palm.

Tumble and roll. Tumble and roll.

Roll.. Roll…

Winded.

Try to push myself up.

Pain lances through my left arm. I yell.

I try and stand. I manage. But I can’t lift my arm. Something’s wrong. I see a bump in the centre of my forearm. Have to cradle my left arm with my right.

My mate comes up and helps me. He brings both bikes to the base while I walk it down. At the base he rigs up a sling with a spare tube which we have.

Then he loads up the car and drives me home.

Four hours later, its confirmed. I’ve snapped my radius like a twig and dislocated my wrist too. A steel plate goes in and I’m out for 3 months.

I was recounting what had happened to another friend of mine when he stopped me mid-way. He asked,”Did you SAY that it was your last ride?”

I nodded.

He sighed.

This careless journeyman had broken the first rule of DH, thereby tempting Downhill fate.

So here it is, so that none of you will have to pay the price I did.

Never, EVER, say its your last ride.

If you do, it just might be. 

You may think it, but you may never say it. 

Another thing worth avoiding, which is less myth and more common-sense – try not to ride alone, no matter how tempted you are.

If you desperately want to ride, put ego (and even self-respect) aside and nag someone and everyone until you have a buddy to ride with. More so, if you’re doing something as dangerous as downhilling in a remote location.

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