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.
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.