A mountain biking addict reflects on the bright side of crashing
By Sarah Hansing
Well. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
I just got a new bike, and I was super eager to take it for a more substantial ride than I had the very first time I rode it. After all, the new bike shake down requires several fiddly miles to stop and adjust and get used to the way the bike rides and feels. And in my case, to also crash epically half-way through my ride.
I have to say, I haven’t hit the ground that hard in quite some time. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I actually knocked the wind out of myself. But there I was, lying face up in a field next to my bike, trying to figure out just exactly what I was doing laying on the ground.
A quick inventory determined that my legs and arms were still attached to my body, my helmet was still on and my bike was intact. Mostly. The saddle rails were bent (rather impressively, I must say). Annnnnd my helmet was cracked in two places. (Always wear your helmet, kids!)
Having re-gained my breath, the first thing I did was start to giggle. Part of why we all ride in the dirt is because of all of the whooping and hollering and playing outside that mountain bikes give us. We feel like little kids again, when we get out and ride.
And to me, crashing is just another way mountain bikes keep us young; crashing makes you feel dumb. It often hurts a bit, and it most always comes as a surprise. Most of the time you’re not sure just how you came off the bike, but you did. And know what? You’re probably ok! Hitting the dirt reminds me that I’m not so fragile, after all. I’m often surprised, in fact, at our capacity as mountain bikers and -human beings in general- to get up, brush the dirt off, and move forward again.
It isn’t to say that crashing leaves you totally unaffected. Probably you’re going to pay attention to the trail a little better next time. Also, you may slow down a little and acknowledge that you cannot, in fact, ALWAYS save yourself from crashing. But you can stop yourself from picking that particular line again. You can learn to not make the exact same mistake twice. And you can be proud that you got back up and kept going.
We ride. We fall. We get up. We do it again.
We’re durable. More durable than we think. Braver than we think. Stronger than we think. (and most certainly bouncier than we think). We’re good at taking chances, and we’re resilient as all hell. Mountain bikes help remind us of all of those things, in the simplest terms possible.
Fat Tire Tuesday columnist Sarah Hansing has been slinging wrenches as a pro bike mechanic for 15 years (with the exception of a one year stint working for Trek Bicycles in Wisconsin.) Epicenter Cycling scooped her up as their lead mechanic and the shop’s crew plans to keep her forever. Sarah loves riding singletrack, wrenching on bikes, and hanging out with her jerk-face but adorable cat Harlan. (Who is a jerk.)
Big thanks to this week’s guest photog Daniel Dunn. Daniel has been mountain biking for over 20 year, is a recovering XC racer, and was an early fan of enduro racing. He now photographs mountain biking in all its beautiful forms and is always ready for a local apres ride beer, wherever you and he may be. Check out Daniel Dunn Photos for more epic mountain biking shots!