Even as I did my best to make my wrecks in yesterday’s post sound spectacular, I was acutely aware of one glaring fact: I’ve never wrecked really badly. I’ve never had to stay the night in a hospital because of a bike wreck. I’ve never had to wear a cast, or have a blood transfusion, or have more than a few stitches.
I may be jinxing myself by saying this, but I’ve gotten off easy.
My sister Kellene, on the other hand, has wrecked pretty darn bad.
Watch that first step.
Kellene lives near Fruita Colorado, which means she has easy access to a mountain biker’s paradise. High-desert riding, canyons, and (cue ominous music) cliffs.
A few years ago, Kellene and a friend went out riding on a popular mountain bike trail called Mary’s Loop. It’s not an especially technical trail, but there are lots of rock ledges, and there’s definitely some trailside exposure. And in at least one case, there’s a rock ledge with trailside exposure. Here, Kellene clicked out with one foot â€” leaving the other one in â€” and used her foot to boost her bike up onto the ledge.
And that’s when she lost her balance.
Tipping over toward the foot that was still clipped in, Kellene was unable to click out. It’s happened at one point to pretty much every mountain biker that’s ever bought clipless pedals.
For Kellene, though, this meant a fall off an overhanging cliff.
She dropped eighteen feet, straight down, and landed on a large, flat-topped boulder.
If you’re the squeamish type, you may want to skip the rest of this post. My daily weight’s posted at the bottom, and tomorrow I promise I won’t be talking about wrecking bikes anymore.
OK, you’ve been warned.
Kellene broke her right wrist, and ripped opened up her knee so you could see everything. She smashed her jaw. She broke 14 teeth, and put her lower row of teeth through her lower lip, nearly severing it.
I swear, I still get sick just thinking about such a fall and the resulting carnage.
Amazingly â€” and let’s face it, cruelly â€” Kellene didn’t lose consciousness from this fall. In fact, Kellene’s day had just begun.
Help may â€” or may not â€” be on the way.
Luckily, Kellene’s friend had a mobile phone with her and made a 911 call. Consider, though: how do you tell an ambulance where you are when you’re on somewhere on a trail that’s known mostly by its nickname? And how do they find you? In this case, they didn’t â€” the ambulance searched, but never found Kellene.
The second call Kellene’s friend made was to her husband, Rocky, who works at a bank. And wears a suit. Rocky, unlike the ambulance, knew exactly where Kellene was and drove out. I’m tempted to say something like, “Rocky broke all kinds of speed limits getting to Kellene,” but the fact is Rocky breaks all kinds of speed limits when driving to church. So I’m guessing Rocky’s rate of speed in reaching Kellene cannot be expressed with conventional mathematics.
When he got there, Kellene had been at the bottom of this cliff for about an hour. Think about that for a second. Rocky took off his leather loafers and climbed down the cliff in his banker’s suit, then helped Kellene use her non-broken wrist and non-split leg to climb back up that cliff.
They sewed Kellene up, gave her a cast, and wired her jaw shut. This, she says, is what nearly drove her over the edge. Sometimes you feel like you’re suffocating; sometimes you feel like you’re drowning. Once her jaw healed, she had endless trips to the dentist to reconstruct a set of teeth for her. Which, by the way, now look considerably better than most people’s real teeth. Having your dentist be a mountain biking buddy, a close friend of the family, and the most anal-retentive person in the whole world is a good combination, if you need a whole new mouth.
They wouldn’t finish finding and extracting broken pieces of Kellene’s teeth from Kellene’s lips for six months.
My sister could kick your butt.
Amazingly, Kellene seems just fine now. I can’t see any scars on her. She says her lower lip is pretty much permanently numb, but all things considered, things could’ve gone a lot worse.
So: does Kellene still ride? Yes, she does. In fact, she’s headed over to Vail, CO today to go mountain biking for a week with some friends.
And does Kellene ever ride Mary’s Loop? Yes she does.
And does Kellene ride the part where she fell off the cliff? No. Are you crazy?