Friday, August 22, 2008

giving myself the finger

I've been having a fantastic time crashing my mountain bike lately. In the span of four days I've managed to costume the right side of my body as a Kaleidescope of Ow: minor hematoma on the kneecap, chain-ring swipes on the calf, the rumblings of a grapefruit-sized bruise on the hip, and various other bloody scrapes in the shapes of rocks and sticks. Did I mention the exfoliating power of volcanic pumice? The trophy boo-boo of the week, however -- a jammed middle finger now swollen to the dimensions of a Lil' Smokie, and approximately the same shade -- I earned on a ride two days ago whilst poaching the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park.*

Steadily and sweatily I grunted uphill for an hour (a geeky XC pleasure) to reap the sweet rewards of singletrack descent (which, incidentally, lasts maybe half as long as the climb). Being a complete masochist -- I mean, I ride a six-year-old hardtail with V-brakes -- I enjoyed a variety of somewhat uncomfortable activities along the way, such as forced out-of-the-saddle sprints to keep the lady bits from going numb.** But it was worth it when, having reached the southern end of Paper Route, I detoured down Juniper to coast happily home.

Juniper's a fun trail, one that I'd ridden only once before, last summer, with the dude. I remembered it being more technical than I am proficient, though, so I was prepared to get my ass handed to me sometime before I glimpsed the comforting shape of the circus tent they call Eagle Lodge. Yet, to my utter surprise and delight, I conquered turn after washed-out turn, managing to remain in an upright and locked position while I navigated root drops mingled with baby-head rocks mixed with loose soil arranged at sharp switchback angles.*** Until I got to the final couple hundred feet of trail. One moment, I was headed toward the last little boardwalk section; the next, I was dumped over on my right side, watching the front tire slowly rotating and wondering why my hand was numb. Why? Because it was time for a crash, I guess.

Though the disabled digit is making the typing of this column a literal pain, I'm otherwise satisfied with my injury. It's good to wreck, to remember that you're as subject to gravity and traction as anyone. And the evolution of the bruise under my knuckle is highly entertaining, as is playing Internet Diagnosis and eliciting sympathy in the form of Popsicles, which double as wicked ice packs. Sea Otter? Not anytime soon. Otter Pop? Yes, please!

* I mean, yeah, I have a pass -- well, a voucher for my pass -- but you have to pick those things up at the ski area, during regular business hours. And apparently I can't get motivated to swing a leg over the saddle until after 5 p.m., which is also the only time I head up that way. So, whatever. I'm legit, right?

** My boyfriend, having a stake in such things, convinced me last summer to buy an ultra-padded women's race chamois. He calls it "the box protector," and I thank him for it every day.

*** I never claimed I was a good rider, mind you. The blue-square nature of this particular trail is plenty freaky for one who started riding totally clipped in only two weeks ago.

No comments: