The Big 'un!

The Big ‘un!

Where the trail ended early–for me.

Pisgah day four was the big momma. The stage I have been waiting for all week. While I would like to say I was saving energy for it earlier in the week that would wouldn’t be true. Sure, I didn’t completely empty myself on the earlier stages but there were many times I was at my limit so I wasn’t sure how well I would respond to the longest hardest stage.

We took off with the usual manic gusto but this time I was hanging in at the front. Even after climbing most of Club Gap I could still see most of the leading group ahead and was comfortable so I let off a little and took my time knowing it would be easy to catch back on once the grade flattened. Soon I was riding back through a few of the early chargers as we traced the ridge line before the descent down to Clawhammer. 

It was rolling single track when it happened, not too fast and almost uphill. A rock ahead to get over and a little bend before. Unfortunately right as I lifted my front wheel it found something slippery and skidded away to the right. I fell awkwardly to my left mostly of my side and even broke the Boa off the outside of my left shoe. It wasn’t a hard fall but I felt a slight pain in my left knee so as I picked myself up, I looked down only to see the lower part of my knee joint fully exposed by a two inch laceration. It was over.

Arm warmers make great bandages in the woods!

Arm warmers make great bandages in the woods!

Maybe it was the pedal or something on my bike. Anyway, just like that I was out. No long ribbon of single track around Squirrel Gap, Laurel Creek and Laurel Mountain. No exciting plunge down Pilot Rock or Farlow Gap on Day Five. No finish at the Music Center tired but basking in the afterglow of Bracken Mountain. All of the preparation before, all of the perseverance earlier in the week had been wiped out in less than a second. Now thoughts of how long it will take to recover and how back is the injury took full precedence in my mind as I rolled down the hill toward town.

That is the sport of mountain biking. Often it feels like a career of woulda, shoulda, couldas, but then some of us are lucky to find a glorious few moments where hard work pays off and misfortune finds others and for a moment we feel on top of our game. I’ve been there and I am lucky for that. It has been a long run of staying out of trouble so the irony of a benign little tumble ending my season early is almost laughable. I am not sure what lies ahead. Maybe this is a setback I need to take stock in my general health condition and find the real answers I need.

Maybe it is a reminder that I have too many irons in the fire now to roll the dice with Lady Luck–win, lose, or draw as the investment outweighs the gain. On the other hand, what is the gain and isn’t the investment always worth every bit when we make our dreams reality and put our heart into all we do enjoying every moment for what it can be? This is the end of another Pisgah chapter for me and while the outcome isn’t what anyone could have expected, I have to be comfortable knowing that it was worth another ride and the time I spent out here with good friends and making more wasn’t in vain.

Thanks to Blue Ridge Adventures for preparing this field of play for us and seeking to meet our every need and desire as competitors and executing a monumental task of promoting an event like this with grace. Thanks to the community of Brevard for embracing mountain biking so we can come and visit and make great memories. Last but not least thanks to all my sponsors and supporters, family and friends to stand with me and have made 2014 another wonderful season on a mountain bike!

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