“How are your balls?” said my friend with a straight face. I hadn’t seen him in a year.
I was confused. This was a friend I liked a lot but we’d never really covered this subject matter. Or, maybe this was some new greeting I hadn’t yet heard?
My bewilderment must have been obvious because he went on, “You know, from your crash on the vert ramp?”
I didn't know what he was talking about. Being a BMX pro for many years means you tend to forget things.
People love to ask what my worst injury was. These days I always say concussions. The echoes of those seem to be the only injuries that still have an impact on my life. For a CTE research study that I’m part of I worked out near 30 out-cold knock outs (and who knows how many head bonks that I just kept riding through). It isn’t good, I know, but back in the old days of BMX contests it was like being a gladiator… you rode until either your bike was broken or you were.
In my opinion one of the coolest feelings in the bike world is a nice smooth landing on a vert ramp. The way you come in front-wheel-first and pointed straight-down is like nothing else. A big air can have such a gentle landing you hardly know you’re back on the ramp. Or at least, that’s how it is supposed to work. I lacked the graceful finesse of the real vert ramp masters. All too often I’d hang up on the coping and get pitched forward, bouncing my head off the bottom of the ramp.
One of those knock-outs was what my friend was asking about. It was at a vert event in England, but I don’t remember which one. My memory restarts in the back of ambulance wondering where I was.
My friend explained that I was coming in from an air a bit out of shape. I was tucked behind the seat trying to cheat my way back into the ramp. I hung up back wheel, sat on the tire and got bucked head first into the flat bottom. During the hang up my dangly bits
got sucked in between the tire and the seat stay. When folks ran out on to the ramp to try and help they found me knocked incoherent and “connected” to my bike. They tried to pull the bike away but it wouldn’t budge. At one point someone was trying to flip the bike upside down so they could remove the back wheel with a socket wrench... twisting up the parts of me pinched between the tire and frame.
My friend (or perhaps my hero) said, “I was the one who thought to let the air out of your tire so we could free you.”
Take it from me, concussions are bad for you. Wear your helmet and do your best to not crash on your head. However, if you were going to suffer some minor amnesia, the memory of having your balls crushed in your back wheel is a good one to lose.