09.5.2007 | 6:30 am

By the time I get to the main event in today’s entry, you’ll already know what’s coming next. And if I were not a fool — if I had not scoffed at the power of the jinx — I would have seen it coming, too.

But I did scoff at the jinx. Thus, clearly, I am a fool.

I Have a Clever Idea
Last Friday after work, a bunch of us got together to go ride Hog Hollow. It was a perfect day for it. The weather was warm, but not unbearably hot like it has been most of this Summer. The trail was in great shape — I knew because I had been up on Hog Hollow just days before.

And in fact, when I had ridden the downhill chute a few days before, I had done a pretty cool little ledge drop that I would have previously thought above my ability. I had it in mind that maybe it would be cool to show off to my friends — casually, without announcing it. Just roll up the banked turn that leads to it and drop down. Ta da. “Hey, Fatty’s getting some good technical chops,” my friends would say, appreciatively.

Is it even possible for me to foreshadow more bluntly and obviously?

The answer to this question is, “Yes.” Yes, it is.

I Feel Fine. No, Waitasecond, I Feel Great
We began the climb, with the ride splitting into two groups — those of us who ride at our own pace, and those of us who have some weird need to either be the alpha male or at least try to match the alpha male’s pace.

Which is to say, Rick M and I rode off the front. We chatted as we carefully matched pace. Two good friends, looking for weakness in each other.

Before too long, Dug bridged, joining Rick and me. Weirdly, I took the fact that Dug had bridged as a challenge and picked up the pace. Dug rolled his eyes and continued going the speed he was going.

Realizing I was being a dork, I backed off.

Dug then caught me and we started talking about our shoulders. I guess it’s a certain sign of middle age when you and your friends can start contrasting your chronic conditions, but there we were.

Dug told me his doctor basically told him that he had a labral tear and a severely bruised shoulder socket, but that it didn’t warrant surgery.

I told Dug that my shoulder was a lot like his, but the tear had been compounded by so many recurrences that surgery is more of a “when” question than a “whether” question.

“But you know what?” I went on. “This has been a good season for my shoulder. I’ve only dislocated it one time, and that was early in the season. It doesn’t hurt to lift stuff anymore, and my range of motion’s getting much better. It’s been a long time since my shoulder’s felt this good.”

I then joked about how I was totally jinxing myself by saying that.

So, seriously, do I even need to finish writing this story?

OK, I will, but I guarantee you already know how it ends.

The Scream
So we got to the top of Hog Hollow, then began our descent down “The Chute.” The Chute is just a ravine that’s had some semblence of a line etched in through years of mountain bikers and motorcyclers picking their way down.

I have crashed going down The Chute at least ten times. Even my more-talented descender friends have all crashed on The Chute a number of times. There’s no shame in it.

But really, we were just at the top of The Chute. It hadn’t yet become Chute-y at all.

However, there is a short, banked detour off the side of the main trail. It ends with a loose dirt ledge, probably two feet high. This is the ledge I’ve successfully dropped a couple times in the past couple weeks.

Of course, Rick and Dan had already shot by, so they weren’t around to see me “casually” do this drop. Dug had stuck around, though. And one witness is good enough for me.

So I rolled up the bank, then — not wanting to crash into Dug after doing this drop — I tapped the brake.

Then I hit the drop.

At an angle.

The wrong angle.

I went over the handlebars, landing good and hard on my right elbow. somewhere in there, I must’ve made contact with my left elbow and right knee, too, because those are still both cut up and swollen.

But the important thing is, I took a good long verytical fall and took all my weight and momentum on that right arm.

My shoulder — yeah, the messed up one — exploded in pain. Not literally exploded, but from the way it felt, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see shoulder shrapnel flying every which way.

I screamed. I yelled. I hopped around and moaned. Strangely enough, even as I was doing this, part of me realized it must look kind of comical to Dug.

Dug, to his credit, didn’t laugh at all. At least, not on the outside. Dug, in fact, did the exact perfect thing to do when a friend crashes hard but is clearly not in mortal danger:

  • He checked my bike to see if it was OK (it was fine).
  • He started talking about the magnificence of the fall and how painful it must have been.

Really, those are the exact things you ought to do when a friend crashes and there’s nothing you can do about their injuries. Make sure their bike’s good, and then admire the crash as if it were a work of art. It takes the sting out of it.

So now, five days later, my right arm is practically useless. It grinds and pops constantly, and each pop is a sharp little moment of pain.

I can pick up light things, but nothing heavy.

Ironically (at least I’m pretty sure there’s some irony here) I can ride just fine. On Monday, Brad and I did a great four-hour mini epic mountain bike ride, and my shoulder gave me no trouble at all (more about that ride tomorrow).

But I can’t help but think about that crash. It was so totally preventable. I crashed because I was showing off. crashed because I went off-course. I crashed because I slowed down too much. I crashed because I went in at a dumb angle.

Of course, those are all contributing factors. They aren’t the real reasons I crashed, though.

I really crashed because I jinxed myself.


  1. Comment by Bitter (formerly known as Lissee) | 09.5.2007 | 6:52 am

    Oh! So sorry to hear that. Are you going to go see a Dr.? Is surgery now in sight.

    Glad you can still ride, and will be able to enjoy the fall weather. For a moment, I thought you were going to be joining Kenny’s non-riding status for the rest of the season.

  2. Comment by Big Boned | 09.5.2007 | 7:10 am

    I seem to be saying this all too often lately on this site…..Heal quickly, hope surgery isn’t needed!

  3. Comment by buckythedonkey | 09.5.2007 | 7:20 am

    Ugh, that sounds familiar.

    We do a loop in the Surrey Hills that, after you’ve done all the hard work going up, your reward is a long descent through woods. About one third of the way down there is a small stream with a little bridge going across it. Like you, I had learned to pop a little manual off this bridge so that, instead of changing course to cross it I could bang straight off it like it really wasn’t there.

    Cue fateful day.

    As you have observed, days only become fateful if all the necessary ingredients are in place. In my case I needed was the audience: one friend and a family of walkers. It all went wrong when I slowed because of the walkers only for Daddy walker to call me through. Next time I’ll decline and insist that the peds go first. Or maybe I’ll just barrel through.

    Too late, I’d slowed and changed my angle of attack. Naturally, the presence of an audience plus an invitation to perform (er, proceed) compelled me to execute this most simple of manoeuvres. My manual produced an almost total lack of front-end air which earned me an over-the-bars faceplant, a knackered shoulder (why is it always the shoulder?!) and, by virtue of still being clipped into a bike intent of completing a triple salko, a set of nicely over-extended fingers.

    How right you are though! My friend observed the same rules as Dug – checked my bike and told me how simply excellent my crash looked. How I laughed, all the way to the Minor Injuries Unit.

    Hope your shoulder gets well soon!

  4. Comment by Rider34 | 09.5.2007 | 7:25 am

    If you don’t crash occasionally, you’re not going hard enough. (Or at least that’s what they say).

    Hope you are feeling better soon.

  5. Comment by Rick S. | 09.5.2007 | 7:26 am

    The south chute has gotten the best of all of us (I’ve even seen Dug, the master of the downhill, go down once). That is an angry trail. I have avoided it all year.

  6. Comment by Mike Roadie | 09.5.2007 | 7:42 am

    We are reading too many crash stories these days. Perhaps it’s time to admit age and insanity and back it down a bit? I don’t want to be a kill-joy, but there comes a time…… I’m not sayin’….I’m just sayin’

    Well, at least it’s not as lethal as the road crashes we get down here. Massive pile ups, tacoed wheels, broken arms and equipment, and a few not so pleasant run-ins with vehicles (nuff said).

    Please do take the advice to go to the Doctor….we need you to be riding again soon. In the meantime, do we get a cartoon of the fall from your son???

    Time’s running out! Help us this season: HTTP://AUSTIN07.LIVESTRONG.ORG/MLEVIN

    Thanks to all!!!

  7. Comment by MTB W | 09.5.2007 | 7:45 am

    Man, that must be one angry trail to eat so many of you up! FC, like always, a great story. Enjoyed reading, but making me wish I was out riding (darn you!). Is it quitting time at work yet?

    Going to ride the Monarch Crest Trail this weekend so you have whetted my appetite (although I hope not to follow in your footsteps/shoulder breakage). OK, now Dug and FC have shoulder injuries – who’s next? Wait, I just jinxed myself.

  8. Comment by Philly Jen | 09.5.2007 | 7:51 am

    Ai-ai-ai! You’re morphing into Kenny. (Your morphine into Kenny?)

    Get well soon.

  9. Comment by Boz | 09.5.2007 | 7:54 am

    Crashes are all part of the charm when moutain biking. The minor scapes, bruises, ect. all add to the experience. Gettting up and laughing ( or sreaming in FC’s case ) add the the lore and legends.
    But road crashes suck – BIG TIME. I’ve got knee and elbow and hip scars from crashes dating back to the ’70’s. Yes, I’m almost an OGHMF, so I shy away from the aggressive road bunch sprints nd such.
    Be carefull out there.


  10. Comment by dug | 09.5.2007 | 7:58 am

    um, you crashed, not because you jinxed yourself, but because that’s what you do. own it. embrace it. sound your barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

  11. Comment by Phil Liggett | 09.5.2007 | 8:00 am

    “Oh, now that was a crazy fall, that was a crazy fall.”

  12. Comment by fletcher_the_dog | 09.5.2007 | 8:13 am

    I grew up in the American Fork area, so I have had the joy of crashing in Hogs Hollow. I would suggest that if really crash that much, you should learn to fall so that you don’t land on your shoulder so hard. There is a nice tutorial on the ‘tuck and roll technique here http://www.zanshinstudios.com/learn/roullade.html. I have been amazed at how many times I have been able to walk away from a crazy crash with only a few scratches but doing a nice tuck and roll.

  13. Comment by DOM | 09.5.2007 | 8:19 am

    After battling shoulder subluxations for 10 years, I finally had the sense to seek surgical intervention. I can’t express the relief of being able to hold my hand over my head and not doubt that it will be in the socket when I bring it down. Your aspirations to pitch in the major leagues will be done (no big loss from you previous descriptions) but you may be able to return fire when your kids start tossing snowballs. Since it sounds like your shoulder has gotten pretty loose, I strongly suggest you at least get it evaluated, the instability tends to wear away the head of the humerous, ie arthritis. Do a little research on Bankart lesion repair.

    For me, it was cool at first, especially if some of the guys were around to hear the cracking/popping sounds when it came out. Eventually, I got tired of feeling like I had gotten a tetanus shot for 3 or 4 days after each event. Once I was able to pop it out just reaching back, it was a no brainer that things had to be fixed.

    Sorry to get all serious here, but you’ve got to consider your health. For what is worth, I wish I’d been there to see you biff.

  14. Comment by Boz | 09.5.2007 | 8:27 am

    Maybe some of that DH body armour would help in frequent pile-ups. Ya’ know, the stuff you see in the Fox and Azonic ads in MB Action and the other MTB rags. Maybe you should see if they will send you some to test and review. I think Kenny could try some, too. Just a thought. Just truying to help. We don’t need a Incapacitated Cyclist blog, we like you as you are.


  15. Comment by fatty | 09.5.2007 | 8:28 am

    dom – i’ve done the evaluations, had an mri, etc., and like i say, the question is when, not whether i’ll do the surgery. i had planned to do it this november, but now with my wife unable to lift anything heavier than 3lbs, it’s not necessarily a good time for me to do this. ya know?

  16. Comment by KT | 09.5.2007 | 8:29 am

    One thing that’s so nice about this blog is, it teaches the rest of us what NOT to do.

    In this case, do not mock the jinx. Jinx does not like to be mocked. Jinx believes in immediate retribution for mocking.

    Hope your shoulder gets better, or you at least get some good drugs out of the whole situation. Maybe you should revise your crashing technique? Land on the other shoulder every now and again.

  17. Comment by Mocougfan | 09.5.2007 | 8:30 am

    Um…did you have a helmet on? Cause I’m pretty sure you must have hit your head as well. I swear I read that you rode “a great four-hour mini epic mountain bike ride” 3 days later with a shoulder that is clearly messed up. Genius amigo, Genius.

  18. Comment by Caloi-Rider | 09.5.2007 | 8:34 am

    Maybe you can get one of those bionic joints Floyd has in his hip—along with a titanium collarbone. Tyler Hamilton should’ve gotten one of those years ago.

  19. Comment by Al Maviva | 09.5.2007 | 8:53 am

    *Bionic titanium joints
    – Screw that, man. Hold out for the carbon fiber. Titanium is soooo 2002.

    *Now with my wife unable to lift anything heavier than 3lbs…
    – In other words, if you hurt your other arm, you won’t be able to exercise your eating superpowers? May I suggest a “Food Luge” with your open maw positioned at the bottom? Your kids could shovel chow up to the top, and it would just drop in. No reason to slack off just because you’re injured. You could always take up binge beer drinking too – call it some cross training.

    – Nothing wrong with crashing. It’s the part of bicycling that makes merely not tipping over all the time seem so rewarding and fresh.

    *Hopping around screaming after a crash
    – Nut up, man. Do what I do. Lay there shivering and tell your friends to leave you there, you’ll make it back to civilization in your own good time. Oh yeah, and please tell my wife I loved her. But never scream. Unless you’re being eaten by wild animals after a crash. I think everybody would agree that you can scream then.

    – a better man than I am. I would have asked you, mid-scream, if your arm had always had that second elbow just above the elbow. Then you’d have *really* screamed.

    *Road crashes
    – Much worse. Seriously. An MTB crash leaves you with discrete cuts and bruises. Yep, they hurt, but they hurt in a spot. You can point to where they hurt. A good 30-40 MPH road crash will have those tender spots, but mostly, they leave you with a nauseating all-over pain that is impossible to describe, except to somebody who has been through it, or been in a bad car crash.

    *The skin that disappears in a road crash.
    – I wonder where it goes? Is it like dead squirrels, where whole races of crows specialize in eating dead squirrel roadkill, but nothing else in the world (save Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel) does? Is there an animal that eats skin ripped off by the road, a feral Southern Norwegian Skinweasel, perhaps? MacAdam’s Dermasnake? The Skinner’s Box Tortoise? Are there enormous covens of these beasts living in the Pyrenees and near the first corner in the local training crit series? Because if there weren’t, the skin would be piled three feet high by now, easily.

    Hmmm… seems like I’d better cut down on the espresso.

  20. Comment by LanterneRouge | 09.5.2007 | 9:42 am

    Al, either that or up the voltage.

  21. Comment by AMG in Texas | 09.5.2007 | 10:08 am

    Al, We can all be sure that you dont cry either…

  22. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.5.2007 | 10:13 am

    “…instability tends to wear away the head of the humerous…” Woah, Fatty, if this is true, does this mean the blog is going to get un-funny?

    I am back down to bright pink scars in the location of road rash from my last road crash. Man, that fresh chip-n’-seal is abrasive. We had to import an extra coven of Norwegian Skinweasels. They were specialists, not the Southern type, but they had buck teeth top & bottom like Cletus. This allows access to the deeper crevices inherrent in chip-n-seal.

    I did not scream or shake. I just laid there breathing hard. The car that had indirectly caused the crash pulled up and asked if I needed help. I replied that I just needed to take a break… on my back… still clipped in.

    Get well, soon, Fatty.
    Please support my LIVESTRONG ride in Portland, OR , and/or Mike Roadies’ in Austin. See, they have this scrolling thing at the side of my fundraising site…


    …where it lists all the donors, how much they gave, and who they are honoring or supporting. You can remain anonymous, or not, you can list the amount donated, or not, but whatever you do, please honor Susan Nelson, (as well as someone else close to you touched my cancer, if you wish.) This is a great cause, and from the experience of my brother a good encouragement. Our team is up to $8867 now!

  23. Comment by Megan | 09.5.2007 | 10:14 am

    Good to hear that I’m not the only one who has stupid preventable crashes. I did save my screaming for when I was being held down by the x-ray tech. Two pins in my elbow later, I should be biking again next season.

  24. Comment by TimK | 09.5.2007 | 12:51 pm

    I’m going to say that the folks who are saying road crashes are worse than mountain bike crashes have not been mountain biking enough. I’ve hit and slid on hard pack clay walls and come away with rash that’s just as bad as what I’ve had on the road. I’ve wrecked on descents and bounced and slid. And I assure that it was more than in a spot.

    And unless you count the folks who lose control descending mountain roads who fly off into midair, there’s nothing quite like the time you get to think about the impact that’s coming on a mountain bike in mid air. It’s actually funnier to watch than the impact – to see someone trying to do something with their body that looks like Wiley Coyote just before the fall. Funny to watch, not funny to do.

    Road crashes suck, mountain bike crashes suck – if your doing either one of them right you’re going to eat it eventually.

    God speed on recovery to both you and Susan.

  25. Comment by kellene..the favorite oldest sister | 09.5.2007 | 1:13 pm

    ok dumb brother of mine! Have you not read “The Secret”??? the whold theory is that the Universe hears our thoughts and cannot differentiate in positive or negative…only hears…” crash on my bike and further ruin my shoulder” It is obligated to respond! and it did! It made you crash! I will be gald to loan you this fabulous book that Janel gave to me! It’s true and everything!

  26. Comment by rogarr | 09.5.2007 | 1:42 pm

    Mountain bike crashes are far more spectacular for the spectators. When you watch someone crash on the road, thats pretty much all there is to it. There is very little entertainment before you see the impact and that is all you remember. When watching a mtn bike crash, often the aerobatics and contortions of the “victim” are far more memorable than the impact.

  27. Comment by bikemike | 09.5.2007 | 2:36 pm

    watch a season of Entourage on HBO. your shoulder will still hurt but you’ll laugh your rear end off.
    how about “Fat Crasher” as a new nickname? no? ok, nevermind.

  28. Comment by formertdffan | 09.5.2007 | 3:12 pm

    hey fatty — how long do you think the repair would last…..

  29. Pingback by RocBike.com » Links Of The Day: 5 September 2007 | 09.5.2007 | 3:32 pm

    [...] Jinx [...]

  30. Comment by hobgoblin | 09.5.2007 | 4:14 pm

    The jinx is real. At a race earlier this season, I was talking to a guy who had a brand new Cannondale, all customized with pink paint, pink bar tape, pink hubs–everything pink. He even named the bike Pinky. He was talking about how he couldn’t crash Pinky because it was his first race on her, and everything was perfectly dialed in. Of course, he went down hard, tearing his bar tape and breaking his wheels. Never, ever underestimate the power of the jinx.

  31. Pingback by Fat Cyclist - Cycling Injuries « Cary James | 09.5.2007 | 4:46 pm

    [...] Fat Cyclist – Cycling Injuries Fact Cyclist is a blog I read pretty much as soon as it’s written. The guy is hilarious. His story telling ability is phenomenal. And he is a regular guy with a great sense of humor who appears to really enjoy the community that has become building around him. Take this story for instance. Dug, to his credit, didn’t laugh at all. At least, not on the outside. Dug, in fact, did the exact perfect thing to do when a friend crashes hard but is clearly not in mortal danger: [...]

  32. Comment by joliver3 | 09.5.2007 | 5:33 pm

    “A good long verytical fall” Is that a fall that is in excess of plentysix feet high? I think the FC family has just invented another new word.

    Great story! If I ride my MTB for more than an hour, my shoulder is one of the first things to get sore, so I can’t imagine doing the “mini-epic” ride a couple of days after the crash. Hope you recover quickly!

  33. Comment by cyclingphun.blogspot.com | 09.5.2007 | 5:42 pm

    OK, first let me give concern and best wishes. I hope everything goes OK with your shoulder Fatty. I hate to say it, but am sure you know… Often times these things don’t seem as bad as they are, and then BOOM one day the whole thing implodes. Make sure you keep track of it, and don’t let it get out of hand!
    OK, now the sarcastic punk in me… If ya wanna throw in the towel, I’ll gladly take care of yer bike for ya!
    Sorry, had to say it!

  34. Comment by Yukirin boy | 09.5.2007 | 6:16 pm

    “- In other words, if you hurt your other arm, you won’t be able to exercise your eating superpowers? May I suggest a “Food Luge” with your open maw positioned at the bottom? Your kids could shovel chow up to the top, and it would just drop in. No reason to slack off just because you’re injured. You could always take up binge beer drinking too – call it some cross training.”

    I see a Shadow Scythe animation or game in the works !

  35. Comment by Al Maviva | 09.6.2007 | 4:41 am

    AMG – you are correct, I don’t cry about bike crash injuries. I either sit there shivering and in shock, or I lose consciousness. Now when I see Field of Dreams, totally different story.

    TimK, I’ve done both kinds of crashes, and I agree, you can get seriously brutalized in an MTB crash, but I’ve never ever in my entire life hurt like I do any time I go down on the road bike going 35-40 or more MPH. It ain’t the road rash, that’s by far the least painful thing about it – it’s the bruising all over my body including parts that didn’t hit anything in the crash. How you can get a football-sized bruise on your back, when you landed on your stomach, is beyond me, but I’ve done it. A high speed crash like that, even my fingernail tips hurt. I’ve crashed my mountain bike before, and we’re talking busted ribs, separated shoulders, chipped teeth – very painful stuff but injuries to specific points. If you took a side of beef and whacked it with a fungo bat until it was about shredded, is how I feel after a high speed road crash, it’s a total body trauma, like getting flung out of a car on a highway and hitting a brick wall. It’s harder than the worst hits I ever took playing contact sports, the only thing I can compare the trauma to is a botched parachute landing fall I made in high winds with full military basic load, I lost consciousness on that one just from how hard I hit the ground. The dirty secret of roadracing is that the average velo team is like an abbatoir by mid-season. You may not get injured, but maybe 10 to 15 percent of the guys on your team have injuries and have had crashes that make you wonder why they are still alive. Even if you come out of a high speed crash with just a bit of road rash, it often takes a month to recover from the soft tissue bruising. No doubt in my mind I’d rather take my chances on the rocks & trees at the generally much lower speeds of mountain biking.

  36. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.6.2007 | 8:59 am

    I have to agree with Al about the road crashes. Heck my last big crash, I was only going zero. But the car was going 35mph. The hit, surprisingly, did not hurt much (at the time). The landing was immediately excruciating, and it only got worse for a few days.

    Of course, my MTB riding is so smooth-single-track-rudimentary, that my MTB crashes are not worthy to be compared.


  37. Comment by lmouse | 09.6.2007 | 11:44 am

    I simply must weigh in on this particular phenomenon, having experienced it myself so many times. While I, too, subscribe to the “jinx” school of thought, there are others worth noting. My mother was fan of the whole “Pride goeth before the fall” idea. (Growing up with that was annoying, I’ll tell you that right now.) The church warns against tempting God. My Dad, a true Minnesotan, was fond of simply saying “Well, that was a heckuva deal” and refusing to further ponder the ways of the universe. I love Minnesotans.

    But since you went with the jinx theory of cause and effect, there is one tip from which you might benefit. The expression “Knock wood” refers to the ancient practice of knocking on the trunk of a nearby tree so that the pixies living inside wouldn’t hear (and subsequently respond to) a boast or bold statement, like the one you made to Dug about your shoulder. Next time, pull over and pound on a nearby tree a few times. It could save you a world of grief. You’re welcome! I’m glad to help a fellow traveler on the rocky trail of life.

  38. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » New Thing | 09.17.2007 | 8:18 pm

    [...] Well, now I can say what it is without fear of jinxing myself: I’ve got a weekly column at BikeRadar.com. Click here to go to my first installment. And, if you feel like leaving a comment at the bottom of the article — yep, BikeRadar.com has comments enabled — that would be very cool of you. I’d like the BikeRadar folks to know that they pick up a pretty engaged and interesting bunch of people by having me write for them. [...]

  39. Trackback by Cow sex. | 05.19.2008 | 10:41 pm

    Cow sex.

    Cow sex.


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.