Essays: Solstice Ride Report - 2000


Solstice Ride Report - 2000
By Jim Edgar

December 27, 2000

Stump M2It had been raining on and off Thursday, December 21st, so I opted for the trails close to home. I'd actually ridden the Stumpjumper to and from work, so I could double-check the drivetrain and make sure there would be no nasty nighttime mechanical troubles. On the way there, I thought about the last time I'd ridden a 26" tire, front suspended, multi-geared bicycle. Between mild weather this winter which kept miles adding up on the road bike, finally putting together a cyclocross bike and spending 90% of my trail riding time on that, and spending the rest of the time on the singlespeed (rigid, singleated Bridgestone if you're keeping track), it had probably been August since I'd ridden the Stump. Here it was December, and I was wiping dry dust off of the frame and other bits.

But, it seemed to weather the rest just fine, and with some slight retruing and lube, hummed happily on the way home.

Grabbed a quick bite while topping off the batteries and changed into a little warmer clothing before heading out. Some rain fell, but it tapered as I climbed up a fun combination of trails. By the time I hit the ridge, there were some beautiful holes in the clouds, filled with stars on the longest night of the year. I coasted for a second on the roadway, and decided to run the trails on the south face of the ridge. It just seemed like I should cover some more ground and be a little more tired before honoring the solstice.

Opted for the fire road on the way down. No point in taking excessive chances, I thought. So, illuminated by twin lights on my handlebar, I followed the wide and rocky road down to the first trailhead and dropped onto the path. Wonderful night, wonderful trail. Pulled through the curves and enjoyed the damp solitude and stillness along the trail.

Those of you who have ridden here know about the rock, with the quick right-hand 180 degree turn at the bottom, before you get to any of the bridges. It's not terribly nasty, but a bit rutted on the drop side. It can be tricky, and the hardest part is making the turn with enough momentum to get up the slight rise and keep going on the trail.

I've walked this bit, ridden this bit, made the rock and got stuck in the turn, made the rock and gone straight into the bushes, bailed on the downside of the rock and probably many more permutations of momentum and direction than I can recall. However, I don't remember ever crashing there.

This solstice I did. Hard.

In the air/on the ground about that fast. No helmet mounted light so couldn't quite see where I would be landing. By the time I was thinking about landing, I was rolling on the ground hoping I could breathe again. Air worked its way in, and I could tell the way that my feet were digging into the ground as my legs ran that they were pretty ok. More air and I was able to use some good Anglo-Saxon constructions for the deliberate exclamation of joy, anger, or sorrow. Non-labored breathing brought with it the knowledge than my hands and wrists hurt like hell.

I'm still deciding exactly what happened to cause the great launch and abbreviated flight. I think that I was moving to the right above my bike and stuck the front wheel in a left pointing rut or rock. I'm probably wrong. I'll go look at the area in good light and wonder how anyone could get tossed so effectively. We'll see. I do remember enough about the area to know that the landing pad area is not level, and inclines toward approaching bodies -- more than likely enough to make the ground closer than expected. But, it's up there on the hill, and I'm down here at my keyboard. I'd bet that it's growing by the minute right now, but will miraculously shrink, flatten and smooth itself before I ever visit it again.

These things do happen.

Anyway. I'd rolled over onto my back and sat up -- well, hunched over my arms. Continuing the self diagnosis, I straightened out the right one. It hurt but could move and I could wiggle my fingers. Probably a bad sprain. The left one... well, the left one wasn't goin' anywheres. It remained stuck to my chest as if I'd velcroed the sleeve. It actually seemed to have a mind of its own, and it had made up its mind that bad things were afoot and it didn't want to play anymore. I figured that this was a really good example of "body-knows-what-it-wants" and used my hydrapack shoulder strap to lock my arm down with my hand on my chest.

How hard did I hit? Well, it was only then that I even wondered about the bike. It lay there, both lights a-blazin' at me, chuckling slightly. Bike was fine.

My options were pretty much "get moving now." I grabbed the bike with my better hand and hoofed it back up the trail. Hoofed it back up to the ridge. Decided not to try to ride down the road one-handed (it was steep and slick, and when I tried to put weight on my right hand, happy thoughts did not occur.) So, kept walkin until the road emptied out on my side of the hill, with a reasonably short, level ride to the house. I did manage that bit on the bike, and wobbled around back to come inside.

Now, among the solstice-pondering thoughts I had while walking home, I had begun to consider "the announcement" to my wife:

"Hidy Ho! I'm not bleeding."
"Honey, I'm home. D'we have any ice?"
"Was your lifesaving training just for swimming pools?"
"Hey there, nothing's sticking through my skin..."

Ok, no winners in that batch, so I opted for the direct approach. Hi, the ride was great, the walk was better, no it wasn't a mechanical, I landed hard, and no, I'm not sure if I'm alright. Luckily, I don't complain too much most of the time, so she figured out I was serious pretty much immediately.

After peeling off gloves and jerseys, they looked pretty swollen, but basically intact. So, after a shower, it was the ice cure. Cracked out the old rollerblade wrist guards and lashed things into place before bed, figuring I was in for a bit of quality off-the-bike time.

Y'know, at least a week.

Friday was more ice, ibuprofen, ace bandages and trying not to push against anything. Pulling worked ok, but wasn't really a favorite pasttime. Ran some work errands, calmed down two customers on the phone and headed home for more ice. This was one heck of a set of sprains. Worse, even with several bags of frozen peas laid under, over and around, the swelling hadn't really changed at all on the left wrist. Just a nasty lump right behind the joint. And, I was finally admitting the thing was clicking when I rotated my arm.

That couldn't be good.

Saturday morning dawned with wonderful weather and what seemed like hordes of bikes going by on the road and on racks, and my brother-in-law the 5th grade teacher came over to pick some things up. Luckily, he'd seen many years of kids at recess trying to cover their injuries, and pretty much convinced me that I was in that category.

I went in. They x-rayed. Both broken. Left one clean through. Right one not quite. Here are some splints. The plasterer will be in around 3:30.

Still, the doctor was very pleased how well lined up everything was. No repositioning necessary. It was my first break, and I was so trying to do it well.

Broke 'em bothCasts come off on January 23rd. At that point, Tracy will be deserving of about a month's worth of dinners, lunches and breakfasts, including the cleaning up of said meals, plus payment of substantial penalties for boneheadedness by yours truly.

That's pretty much the story at this point. Yeah, they still hurt. No, it's more of an ache. I've only woken myself up a couple times by hitting myself in the head with my cast.

Some observations:
-- If you are going to break both your wrists, don't do it at the same time.
-- Modern pull-on/push-off faucet fixtures are not your friend.
-- Shoelaces are not your friend.
-- The plasterer is your friend. Make very good friends with the plasterer. The plasterer leaves your fingers free so you can type.
-- You do not need a keyboard wrist rest when you have casts.
-- Since all things are, at a molecular level, simply electrical charges, there is no such thing as itching, and it cannot be occurring beneath the casts.


updated: December 19, 2006


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