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.
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?”
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.