- This is in answer to:
- Share the most dangerous thing you've ever done for fun. See all answers
- June 2, 2011 by mestub
- Cheap Thrills(?): The Most Dangerous Thing I've Done for Fun
I love to ride my road bike! Though the photo below is from a mountain stage of the Tour de France and is NOT of me, it reminds me of the thrill involved in mountain riding. Often exhilarating, sometimes excruciating, there is yet an indescribable element of, well ... the unexplainable, about why I enjoy it so much. It primes my good health, rewards with an inner sense of skill and accomplishment. It feeds my soul as I discipline myself to push personal limits, as I see things from the saddle that I'd never see from behind a steering wheel or in a jet, and as I relax and recover after the ride while I reflect on what I've just done.
But there's another angle involved in a high-speed, 17-mile descent of a steep Sierra Nevada mountain road after a challenging 30+ mile ride with lots of climbs on an overheated California day.
Would I do it again? YES!
This particular day, I was with two other friends who'd stayed together as we broke from a larger pack and stretched our route beyond the plan, knowing the route we chose would take us back home quicker (though not easier) than the planned route. Danger? Yep, abundant, including steep and narrow hairpin switchbacks on a mountain road with a weather-cracked surface, no guardrails, and often laced with sand and other windblown debris. And I had never descended that route.
It went well all the way down to the last curve, a sharp one that doubled back on itself. As I blasted into it, I realized that though the turn was nicely banked, my line was too tight, and my concern was confirmed as I hit pronounced washboard that vibrated up my arms and legs all the way to the top of my head. Braking was no longer an option because of my speed, so I broke up the banking curve hoping for better surface and line of completion. But then I hit loose sand and before I knew it, my wheels were above my head and I was staring down from my airborne position at a rapidly-approaching roadside culvert embedded in large stone and desert clay -- head first. Thinking my wonderful life was soon to end, I slammed into the culvert with my helmet and saw a big yellow flash.
When the explosion cleared, I wiggled my toes and hands, groaning with pain, but happy to realize that I was alive and apparently not paralyzed. Friends kicked into action and flagged help to get me to the hospital twenty miles away.
Several cervical and thoracic spine x-rays showed the doctors, my wife and me that I had no spinal damage -- only four cracked ribs, a concussion and severe whiplash, and a lacerated side that had to be cleaned and pasted back together with steri-strips. Plenty of time to recover and reflect on that ride!
Would I do it again? YES! But not at the same speed!