A Summer without bikes.
The saga of my summer without bikes began back on May 14, 2011. I had been out riding with my good friend Craig, running some shuttles and meeting some new friends (who for the life of me I cannot remember their names) I'd invited to join us for a tour of Post Canyon. We all started from an area known as upper Two Chair that on a clear day has a four mountain view of St. Helens, Rainier, Adams and Mt.Hood. The trail starts off super fast then drops into some technical chunder and eventually resembles a rock strewn DH course before coming to an intersection where you must make a choice to continue on fast ripping singletrack or take the trail leading to the jumps, stunts and drops. We opted for the jumps, stunts and drops and for myself it would ultimately be to the end of a Summer filled with racing and riding.
I decided to follow Craig off of a stunt named Postage Stamp. A stunt that has no room for error. This particular drop has a technical ride in and blind takeoff with a landing that is, you guessed it, the size of a postage stamp. As Craig and I entered and committed to the stunt, I felt as though I was too close to him so I scrubbed a bit of speed so as not to land on top of him once we touched down. As I went airborne I knew I had screwed up and it was going to take everything I had to make this drop work in my favor to ride it out.
This is where things took a turn for the worse.
When I was about to touch down I knew that I was going to come up short, tried to relax and prepare for what was inevitable. My rear wheel caught the top of the landing which bucked the bike straight up and threw me violently over the bars to the ground. Now, the landing is made of wood and I found out later that the run out had been armoured at the base of the landing with cinder blocks due to constant wash out. The crash was by far the hardest I have ever been slammed to the ground and upon coming to rest after what seemed like I had been thrown into a rock tumbler, the seriousness of the crash settled in.
The first thing I heard was Craig running back to me and saying “Oh my god, Bari do not look at you left arm” followed by “I need a cell phone, I need to call 911”.
I didn’t need to look at my arm to know that it was extremely messed up. I told Craig I had a phone in my pack and rolled over onto my side so he could access the pocket where my phone was safely tucked away. When I rolled over onto my side I could feel the bones in my arm grinding together and that it was just flopping around. I had no control of movement and the pain was starting to set in. While I was laying there I pulled my helmet off, had one of my friends cut my pack off and tried to get comfortable and stay calm. Listening to Craig describe my injuries to the 911 operator left a sinking feeling in my gut, this was going to be an afternoon I as well as Craig and company would never forget.
Once the first responders and EMT’s showed up they quickly stabilized my arm, started an IV drip and gave me a shot of something that took the edge off. I found out later that the first responders/rescue refer to this area as the frequent flier trail due to the amount of people who take a ride out on Life Flight. This was not to be me.
I had to regain some of my dignity and walk my ass to the ambulance rather than ride in a gurney with a single fat ATV tire. I told the EMT, “Help me to my feet, you grab the IV and I will stabilize my arm with my good hand, lets go”. Craig said I was a hero for getting to my feet and walking the 35 to 40 yards to the ambulance. I think not. Craig was the true hero for keeping his cool and taking control of the situation. It's good to know that the company you keep have got your back.
Anyhow, I ended up shattering my Ulna, snapped the radius with one of the two bones protruding through the top of my arm. Roughly 3 hours of surgery, two plates and 15 large screws later, my arm was back together and I was in recovery with my wife at my side. Let me tell you something, my wife has got to be one of the most awesome women for a guy to be lucky enough to have by his side. She is not a biker, but knows that it's in my blood, supports me unconditionally and I never got the “What the hell were you thinking?!” question. She simply smiled and sat at my side reading a book while I tried to sleep off all the dope that was flooding my system. When I was able to go home she just asked that I not do this again. Simple enough request I thought.
Here is the last x-ray taken at 22 weeks after my injury.
Now here we are, five months later and I have yet to ride a bike. I finally was told that I didn’t need to wear my brace anymore just last week. The Radius is completely healed, however the Ulna still has a space with no bone that my doctor said could take another six months before it fills in. Crazy right?
What do you do when bikes are a staple in your life and you no longer can take part in that enjoyment?
You spend more time with the person in your life that counts the most.
You start running with the mutt so as to keep your ass in shape and maybe lose some weight. My crazy mutt, Piper.
Spend some time and money on upgrades to the bikes you can't ride.
A new tattoo perhaps?
Live vicariously through your friends who are still able to race and ride. Mike Estes, photo by Carl Warren.And of course, enjoy your favorite adult beverage by a fire.
Buy new tools and set up your own home shop area.
Life doesn’t stop just because you cannot ride. Life goes on, friends and family are still there giving words of encouragement knowing full well that you will be back in the game sooner than you know it. Am I bummed? Sure, but only because I really want to ride. At this point I look forward to next year and having an awesome season of racing, riding and making my wife wonder "What's it gonna be this time?".Ride fast, drink slow and stay hungry