8.01.2013

Crash at Cabin John





one week ago today...
last Thursday... 
only seven days but what seems like a lifetime away I had this big plan to go mountain biking after work...
it was a similar plan to the Thursday before last Thursday

the boys had been running a pattern of camp... sleep away camp... camp
all of which chreaded a succession of kid-less Thursdays
this Thursday was the same... the boys were camping for the night at camp
not sleep away camp... a week long camp that has a camping trip on the Thursday of that week
each other day there is a big green bus that picks them up at a location in the morning and then returns them to that same location in the evening

this kidless Thursday meant I was free to do as I pleased with my post work time
there was a window of opportunity 
long day summer day... warm weather... dry trails... and no kids to tend to at home
so... I made a quick scribble on my mental calendar... things were mentally penciled in.. so... plotted and planned for a post work mountain bike ride at Cabin John


Cabin John being the closest legal mountain for me
well... maybe not the closest as the crow flies
which is important to factor in as I am not a crow which means I can not fly so I have to drive
so... Cabin John may be 30 minutes away by car while Fort Dupont or Wakefield may take more time to get to while actually be closer
funny thing... that thing called traffic

the post work drive to Wakefield is PAINFUL!
I know... as I have had so many stress filled drives to race the Wednesday at Wakefield
do-able but painful 
less painful in HOV... which is another variable to juggle that could help the ever self closing window of opportunity

the week prior I had used the same Thursday evening opportunity for a quick trip to Cabin John
it worked out great... got there fast and early with my dog Didg
multi-tasking with the dog for a mid day adventure 
in under thirty-five minutes I was out my front door and suited up with wheels rolling on dirt
we did a quick out and back
returning to the car before dark and the incoming storms

snagged that window of opportunity

that ride seemed a little long for my four legged friend named Didg
18-20 miles versus his previous max of roughly 14 miles
maybe a little long... and maybe a little too intense
maybe a little too hot

most of our previous adventures have been in cooler if not cool temperatures 
there had been no Code Red summer bike and dog adventures

yes... there was the heat
then there was the issue of the heat... the heat and the humidity
then foolishly... foolishly with the best intentions 
knowing that the pads could be raw... I decided to bring Didge for another bike\dog adventure 
so... on the following Saturday I took Didg with me to hit the Seneca Ridge Trail

my intention was to go light... my expectation was to go light
but when I linked up with Chris Danaceau... I learned that his idea of light was a little more intense than my idea of going light
thought he was going to ride mellow with a race planned for the following day... boy was I wrong
sure... I was not looking for a stroll down Lullaby Lane... but  I did feel as if I was going a little hard for my dog Didg

it was not that hot... so I thought he was fine
we made the requisite rest stops at the creek for Didg to cool his body, catch his breath, and to drink some water
but at the end of things
it was visible that I may have gone too fast and too long
too fast... too long... and maybe too frequent

oh... I almost forgot... take a look at the No Swimming\No Wading signs at Black Rock Mill
it is cool to swim a hundred yards up or a hundred yards down stream... but definitely not in front of the "the mill"
I got a warning... it was hot... I could not resist
but that is a story for another day

the ride on Thursday and then again on Saturday was definitely too much

the following morning on our requisite morning hike Didg was limping
his pads were tender when I touched them 
so... Didg was on injured reserve
the following days the hikes were short and to the point

below the bare minimum

Didg's pads were worn
tender to the touch and limping when he walked
which meant that I had to go light on the hikes and the bike rides
infact... short walks and no cahsing the bike
meaning... Thursday I was free to ride... but I would be riding without the dog

so... I put out the APB to the DCMTB to see if I could enlist a riding partner
I got a few nibbles.... but could not set the hook
which was fine... as I had to work later than planned which pushed back my intended start point
 yet still... I was able to go riding

I got home later than planned which had me leaving out from home later than planned
when I got to the trail head I was pleased with how little traffic I had encountered but was a little worried about how much time I had to ride
so... I pointed into the woods hot... already racing the falling sun at the start of my ride

early in my ride I was humbled with one slight fall... and then another... yet I opted to hammer forward fast and hard...

it was not far into my ride... just on the second stretch of woods just after the first road crossing
it is a non-technical section of trail
not entirely sure what happened
all I know is that it was not pretty

across the street and back on the bike and I was over spinning the Niner Single Speed with all my might
then without any warning I found myself out of control
somehow I hit something and was off trail and quickly coming off the bike
like a pilot trying to crash a plane I tried to land my bike off trail as safely as possible

well...
I did not have any time to find any safe place to land my bike
no time at all...
off the trail... into the brush... my front wheel hit an old rotting log 

let me pause for a second...
I do not take crashing lightly
in fact... I am living proof that the bigger they are... the harder they fall
so this next set of words is not boasting... but an effort to recount 
something for me to learn from 

the front wheel hit an old rotten log... the bike stopped... I continued forward
the pilot of this craft hit the ejector seat
catapulting forward
feet unclipped from the pedals
hands off the handlebars

FLYING!
launched into the air the grace of a...
okay... no grace... my Superman position was less than super
my legs were moving like a dog having that dream where they are chasing a squirrel 

I was fly... but I was rapidly falling towards earth

at the last second I tucked my head and hit a stump on the ground
one arm on each side
helmet\head hit dead on
straight on with no deviation... maybe the best
like a spring compacting my neck compressed

in that frantic post crash panic I was back on my feet
head to toe assessment
I could feel a cool tingling sensation on my temple
my glasses had broken and cut my face

again I did a head to toe assessment of my situation
I seemed to be fine... then I checked my bike
amazingly enough the bike was fun
my glasses were broken but my bike and body were in tact

it was a bit of a miracle 
I thanked "god" for surviving that crash
right then and there I had my own little religious experience
although I do not care for organized religion I do most certainly believe in something
I thanked that thing that I do not understand

not a scary man with a big gray beard
no... not santa... not me
but a force of nature
something unexplained

it was early in my ride
there was not much thought
the bike and body seemed fine
so rather than head back to the car
I pointed forward and began pedaling

only with a little less intensity 
a bit more focus
and a whole lot more respect for the dangers around me

did the "out and back" from River Road to Goya Road and then on back to River Road
raced the falling sun... did not get an excess of circling in the woods
kept it all as simple as possible
no exploring new trails
no testing my abilities or trying to gain any new skills

just hammered out and then hammered back
was sore... but not broken

here it is not quite a week since the crash
my neck is still a little sore
but a weekend of boogie boarding at the beach more than likely act as the rest that I may need to fully recover

I am truly thankful that I was not injured
the body is an odd mix of being utterly resilient while also being quite fragile
things could have been different on that day
and well... I am glad that I was not more seriously hurt

be careful out there
respect the dangers
go hard... stay focused...
ride safe... ride smart...

previous mentions of Cabin John.... including some links and some maps



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