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Not Just Another Bike Crash

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Part 1: Not a Novice

I am lucky enough to own one of the best mountain bikes made. On memorial day weekend, I bought a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR ("Full Suspension Response") Carbon Expert 29er. I have spent two full months building my skills to fully utilize this sophisticated machine.

I am not a novice mountain biker.

I started trail riding when the majority of mountain bikes where not far removed from road bikes. Back in the day, affordable mountain bikes had no suspension. The so called "mountain bikes" were steel road bikes with flat handle bars, knobbly tires and lower gearing.

In 1981, the first mass-produced mountain bike was introduced by a company that made bike tires called "Specialized". The bike was called the "Stumpjumper".

This is a photo of the 1981 Stumpjumper. The first "Stumpy" is displayed in the Smithsonian Institute. The first mountain bikes were crude, heavy and expensive at $750 in 1981 dollars.

Bike retailers were skeptical about the whole idea of "big BMX Bikes" for adults. The first shipment of Stumpys sold out in six days. The sport of mountain biking was born.

In 1982 I had just finished graduate school. $750 was a heck of a lot of money back then. I bought a knock-off Stumpjumper made by Huffy for $200. The Huffy was awful but it could handle dirt. I rode the Huffy until if fell apart.

I moved from Colorado to Texas and rode my mountain bike on the rough dirt roads through the Texas Hill Country north of San Antonio. SInce my house was the furthest north point in San Antonio, I just rolled down my driveway and pedaled about 250 yards right into the Hill Country.

I got a used Giant 1993 Giant Acapulco mountain bike upon returning to Colorado in 1996.

I gave the Acapulco to my 3rd son for transportation while he was in college. The bike got stolen. This was the tough old days when 95% of mountain bikes were rigid. I bought a Giant Boulder SE in 2004. This was the first bike I owned that had a front suspension.

I still own this bike, which I call "Big Red". In 2006 I bought a Specialized Stumpjumper Pro, which I call "Little Stumpy".

I have been riding mountain bikes for 30 years. I know what I am doing.

Part 2: Technical Trail

On Wednesday, July 25th 2012, my good friend Jason and I took the afternoon off to go for a ride up Bergen Peak in Evergreen, Colorado.

The trailhead is at 7,600 feet. The summit is at 9,708 feet. The trail is 10.9 miles long with an elevation gain of 2,108 feet. The trail is rated as "Advanced".

Jason's Yeti mountain bike is still in the shop. He had arranged for a demo of a new Yeti SB 66 29er.

We started the ascent together. Ultra Stumpy was climbing up the rocky trail like it was levitating! Jason kept saying about the Yeti, "I gotta get me one of these!" The trail is steep and rocky.

This is what is known as a technical trail.

Bergen Peak trail is a series of switchbacks.

This trial very tricky on both the ascent and descent. The way the trial erodes invariably leaves a exposed granite boulders directly above the switchbacks.

As you approach a switchback, you move into a defensive position with a flat back and your hips behind the seat. On any smooth spot above the switchback you check your speed by braking. As you roll into the boulders you release the brake and let the suspension deflect. As you free roll trough the rocks, you focus on the switchback ahead. Once over the rocks, you clip out of the downhill pedal. You skid the rear wheel and pivot through 90 degrees until your bike is pointing down the lower part of the trail. You drop onto the lower trail and then you pedal to the next switchback.

This is a photo of the defensive position on a mountain bike. Your hips are behind the seat. This bike just happens to be a Specialized Stumpjumper similar to mine.

On this day, I had the suspension on my Stumpjumper dialed-in. The bike was floating over monster boulders. I was rocking and rolling! I was flowing down the trail. The only discordant note was my front brake had starting to squeal like a wild pig. The front brake was dragging and squealing even when released.

This was a warning. There was something wrong with the brake. But everything was working well and the bike was flying. It felt so good!

Part 3: The Mother of All Mountain Bike Accidents

As I ripped down the trail I saw a particular nasty section coming. I am ready! I am in perfect position on the bike. I squeeze both my brake levers with my index fingers to check my speed.

Then white hot searing pain!!

The world had gone black except for stars. The Universe was void except for pain. The front brake had locked-up. The bike flipped forward so fast I was still holding the handle bars when my face smashed into the razor sharp rocks in the middle of the trail.

Then there was nothing.

I don't know how long I was out. I came to and tried to pick myself off the ground. There are no words to describe the agony. I staggered to my feet and dragged my bike over to the berm on the side of the trail. There was blood everywhere. I sat down on the cool grass.

I tried to remember where I was. I then noticed there was a man standing over me. His lips were moving but he was making no sound. The nice green forest then started to turn white. I lay back on the grass. The world was spinning. The pain was intense.

I heard someone say, "Hey, hey, are you OK?" I opened my eyes and saw the world had regained it's color and I could hear again. I recognized the man standing over me as a hiker I had passed way up the trail.

He said, "I have a first aid kit. I think I can stop the bleeding." I thought about a mountain biker I helped patch-up at Buffalo Creek. What goes around - comes around.

I tried to ask the angel-of-mercy, who was then digging through his pack , "What is your name?" I could barely talk and blood splattered out of my mouth with each word. But he understood. He said, "My name is David." I mumbled, 'My name is Bruce." Pleased to meet you. I crashed my bike. I feel terrible."

I reached up with my quivering right hand and touched my face. I was shocked when I felt a bottomless laceration in my upper lip. I felt the inside of my mouth with my tongue. My mouth was a tatter of torn flesh. My lips were torn and bleeding. I had two broken teeth. My chin was bruised and bleeding. My neck hurt really badly. My left knee was bruised bleeding and swollen.

I took off my helmet. Even in my dazed stupor I knew my helmet was toast. I guess that was a $100 well spent.

David handed me a gauze and told me to put pressure on my upper lip to stop the bleeding. He then fashioned a bandage from gauze and tape and applied it to my lip. I got to my feet and picked up my bike. We started down the trail together.

I was still pretty shaky. I asked David, "What do you do for a living?" He answered, "I am an Attorney. I do civil litigation." We chatted about law and natural resources. About a 1/4 mile down the trail Jason was waiting for me. I shook hands with David and thanked him profusely.

Jason shook his head, "Man, you look like hell." I swung my leg over my bike and said, " Let's go, I think I may need some medical attention." Jason nodded, "Yeah, I think so. Are you sure you can ride?" I replied, "I am not sure I can even walk. There is only one way to find out if I can ride." I jumped in the saddle and took off.

I felt totally relaxed. I hit the gas and flew down the rest of the trail. I left Jason in the dust. I fisted my left hand grip and did not touch my front brakes again. I managed to make it to the doctor's office 10 minutes before closing.

Part 4: Root Cause Analysis

First let me say I am not a happy camper that the front brake locked-up again. The first time the front brake locked-up was on Apex trail a couple of weeks ago. The bike shop where I bought the bike had a chance to repair the brake. They simply adjusted the brakes and warned me that the brakes get touchy when hot. Everything seemed OK during my next rides. I did about 5 miles at Three Sisters and 4 miles at Green Mountain. Both these trails are pretty easy.

The Bergen Peak Trail and Apex Trail have the terrain that my Stumpjumper was made for. Under these difficult condition, just when I need precise braking, the front brake has locked up.

I am not happy with the bike store. I took my bike back to the store on Friday. I have to say I got pretty angry when the tech insinuated that it was my fault. Of course, I was hurting pretty badly at the time. I informed him that I have been riding mountain bikes since before he was born and I did not over-brake!

I checked on mountain bike forums and found that this problem crops-up from time-to-time. I also talked to a good bike tech at another shop that does a lot of work for me on my out-of-warranty bikes. He races bikes with the same brakes I have on my bike. He said the the problem is likely improper brake bleeding. He said if there is too much brake fluid in the system, the brake starts to drag when they are used a lot because of heat build up. This dragging causes the brakes to get even hotter. Hence, the squealing pig sound. He said once the brake is abnormally hot, the brake will then lockup at the slightest pressure.

The fix is to disassemble the brake and replace any component that shows any sign of overheating. The fluid has to be flushed and replaced. The brakes have to bled with the caliper fully retracted using factory tools.

These Formula brakes are very powerful so any problem is magnified. I discovered on the mountain bike forums that these brakes have a rather bad reputation as dangerous.

Part 5: Damage Assessment

Other than a malfunctioning front brake, my Stumpjumper is fine. I did not fair so well. In order of severity, here goes:

Deep gash in upper lip that required 12 stitches
Two broken teeth that are fitted with temp crowns
Soft tissue damage in neck from whiplash
Broken Nose
Deep bone bruises and abrasions on chin
Dislocated jaw
Sprained wrists
Sprained ankles
Badly cut lips
Severely torn mouth tissue
Severely bruised and cut right elbow
Severely bruised and cut left knee
Too many other minor cuts and bruises to count

I can't chew anything and I am getting really tired of broth! The doctor prescribed Vicodin but I hate the way it makes me feel "doped-up". I only took one Vicodin pill.

This is me!

This is my elbow when I finally got home. It looks worse now.

I have lots of cuts and bruises all over me.

Part 6: Always Wear a Bike Helmet

The guy at the bike shop that works on my non-warranty bikes tells me that a lot of his customers won't buy a bike helmet when they buy a bike. His customers say they will not be going very fast. I was going only going 15 or 16 miles an hour when I planted my face on a rock. He wants my ruined helmet as a demonstration piece.

My helmet did a good job and saved me a lot more severe injuries. My helmet really took a blow.

There was a lot of blood on my helmet. The holes in the shell for the visor are totally deformed.

Here is a shot of the crushed styrofoam on the inside of my helmet. This helmet is now only good for a display. This was an expensive helmet.

I am tired now. Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HAKAPES 10/2/2012 5:28PM

    Huh. I got really serious reading your blog. And took long breath, one after the other.

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WATERMELLEN 8/6/2012 9:46AM

    Wow! Love the part about the lawyer coming to your assistance . . . and I'm wondering if a consult with a personal injury lawyer with respect to the evidence that your brakes were improperly maintained might be worth your while.

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SLIMMERJESSE 8/6/2012 9:27AM

    Wow! Might be worth letting your brakes cool during a ride before things lock up again. Wishing you a quick recovery.

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DDOORN 8/6/2012 9:19AM

    OMG...you have helped me to re-committ myself to sticking with the open road on my cycling adventures...! Whew! Good for you to keep at it!


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BIONICBETH 8/3/2012 8:19AM

    You do like to play hard, don't you? I'm happy to hear your injuries weren't worse. (Bad enough from your perspective, I'm sure!)

Heal up...and take something for the pain. Have you tried half a Vicodin. (Funny, those don't do anything to me except reduce the pain. Which is the point.)

You (and a few other folks) have inspired me to stick with cables for my brakes.

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NWFL59 7/31/2012 6:20PM

    So did you have the brake system replaced with an alternative system that doesn't have a similar heat related lock up problem or did you just get the original one restored to specs even though it has known problems with your type of riding scenarios?
I see you're posting a lot lately so I hope that means you're feeling significantly better and are continuing to heal without any additional problems cropping up. I still shake my head when I think about the seriousness of your crash and that you still had enough clarity of mind and function of body to be able to get back down the trail under your own steam in to medical help. Amazing fortitude. You must be in really good shape (pre-accident of course) to pull that off. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BOILHAM 7/31/2012 8:02AM

    That was an interesting and eye opening blog. I stumbled across it because one of my Spark Friends (STRIVER57) commented on it and it came up on my friend feed.

So sorry about your injuries, and I'm gld you are doing well. I learned a lot about mountain biking, something I know next to nothing about.

Good luck to you, and thanks for posting!

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STRIVER57 7/31/2012 5:43AM

    ok, you have more things going wrong than me. i'd be pretty pissed off at the bike store too. hope you feel better (are better!!) soon. (and it's certainly not your fault ... but it may be your luck) ... dare i say take care?

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LINDAKAY228 7/30/2012 6:16PM

    Oh man I'm really sorry about all your injurie. Thankful they weren't worse though, as what would have happened without the helmet. I think putting it on display is a great idea to let others know what a crash at 15 mph looks like! I hope everything heals soon. I would have been really upset with the bike shop too. Hope you have a speedy recovery and can eat real food soon.

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ELYMWX 7/30/2012 6:09PM

    Wow. Ouch. Wow. I hope you recover soon, Bruce, and also hope you find some answers on those brakes.

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LISAINMS 7/30/2012 4:50PM

    OUCH! I am a devout helmet wearer for this very reason. I've had enough falls over a lifetime of various riding to know better. Hope you heal soon!

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CBAILEYC 7/30/2012 12:46PM

    Geez-oh-Pete! I'm sorry for the crash, Bruce, but I'm glad you're alright, all things considered. Here's to a speedy recovery. Take it easy as you mend.

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PAPAMIKIE 7/30/2012 9:25AM


Glad you survived as well as you did. I so often see bikes without helmets, or with helmets strapped to the handle bars. I say a bike helmet becomes a safety device when it is properly worn on your head, otherwise it is just a bike helmet.

I am not an experienced mountain biker but have biked a lot. Had one accident; I came around a corner and there was no road. Workers had dug out the road to put in a culvert, I assume someone had removed a barricade and warning. Long and short I crashed when I got up I could not hold my head level. I then discovered a large tree branch had pierced my helmet and the wait of it is what was causing the problem. It had stopped just putting a bump on the inside of the helmet. Having penetrated the outer layer and the inner padding, but did not even create a bump on my head.

Hope your recovery is as speed as can be and that all your equipment works as expect next time.

Take care

And again. Ouch!!!

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KJDOESLIFE 7/30/2012 9:16AM

    I'm glad you're in one piece and I hope you heal quickly and feel better soon.

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SQUIRRELLYONE 7/30/2012 8:21AM

    Holy crap, dude! I hope you recover quickly, as that kind of mess is highly unpleasant! I also really hope the techs get Ultra Stumpy's breaks sorted out (or that you -- when you're better) do.

Thank goodness you came out mostly in one piece!

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KA_JUN 7/30/2012 12:21AM

    Dude, Bruce. Dang, just, wow. emoticon Great reading, but more importantly, glad to hear your lid saved you some serious head trauma.

Serious crash, for sure. Heal up fast, sounds like you had a bad go of it. That looks like 2000 ft of serious climbing.

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OPTIMIST1948 7/29/2012 10:50PM

    I hope other people at the bike shop learn from your helmet. What a terrible experience!

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TEDDYBABE 7/29/2012 4:30PM

    OH MY GOSH! I knew it was coming when I read "and I was rocking and rolling". I'm thinking, okay, here comes the part that I don't know if I want to read or not. Geeze, so sorry to hear this. Isn't it sad that on so many levels, we really have to be our own advocate. So happy you understand your equipment. Heal quickly!! I'm thinking there's got to a book here somewhere... lol. Anterior (Front teeth)??

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    I have a hybrid street/trail bike, and I had the same problems with my brakes locking up. Luckily I wasn't in a situation like you were, I was just out riding a trail, but it made the end of my ride incredibly difficult to the point where I had to completely disconnect my brake in order to finish.

Your wreck looks really bad, I am glad that you made it out in no worse condition than you did!

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GRATEFULBOB 7/29/2012 11:31AM

    hope you feel better . this looks like another good one . how about slowing down alittle ! naaah ,lol heal quickly

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IMSMILEY88 7/29/2012 10:37AM

    Thanks for sharing your story. I am a road biker and am amazed at those trails! I can't imagine biking them! And, thanks for preaching to always wear a helmet! I was learning how to go clipless and fell from a complete stop and now have about 12 scars! Falls can cause a lot of damage no matter how fast you are going!

I hope you have a quick recovery!

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NATPLUMMER 7/29/2012 10:35AM

    OUCH! I'm glad you're okay!!!

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SLENDERELLA61 7/29/2012 1:44AM

    Oh, wow! So glad you survived to tell this story. You really wrote a good blog here. However, it made me glad that mountain biking is not on my bucket list. May you have many more happy and less eventful miles!! Take care.

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MPLANE37 7/28/2012 11:07PM

    Hi man,

I am so sorry that you had such an accident. Seeing the photos of the trail, you know what I do descending such trails? (first of all I hate steep descents, and love steep climbs) I get off the bike and walk. For fear of precisely what happened to you. But I think you were lucky, I've heard people hurt much worse than you did. I've heard people being carried by his friends to the ambulance waiting for him at the end of the trail. Mountain biking is relatively safer than road biking, but not infinitely safer.

Hope you get better soon. You have a great bike, by the way, far better than what I own (Merida 60 with only front suspensions). I am sure you have a lot of experience, but, man, these descends are dangerous no matter what. Careful with the descends.

Best of luck in your future rides.

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LMB-ESQ 7/28/2012 10:07PM

    Well! I always say, if you're gonna do something, do it right! You do the most spectacular riding and you have the most spectacular accidents. Glad you were wearing your helmet; it probably saved your life. Hope you feel better soon, and don't the pain get control of you!

(BTW, another friend of mine here on Spark had a bike accident on loose gravel a couple weeks ago, broke her pelvis, and is down for three months. You're in good company.)

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EXCUSELESS 7/28/2012 9:56PM

    Oh my gosh, I'm sorry. I hope you heal well. I will defiantly remember you and I'll be sure to pass it forward the importance of a helmet. Get Well Soon!

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LKEITHO 7/28/2012 9:55PM

    Man, this hurts just to read about! I hope you heal up soon. Just another reminder to me of why I don't mountain bike - you're a pro so I hate to think what I could do to myself as a novice! Take care!

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 7/28/2012 8:48PM

    Oh my GOODNESS!!! Thank goodness you were wearing a helmet and glad you paid for a good one, if an expensive helmet took that kind of damage imagine what a cheap helmet would have sustained. So sorry you are so beat up and so sorry Stumpy had another braking issue. Poor Stumpy. Glad your friend knew the real problem, hopefully it can finally be really resolved. Hope your injuries heal quickly and you can get back to real food. So sorry....

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CAROLYN1ALASKA 7/28/2012 8:47PM

    And I thought my concussion and whip lash were from a bad crash...

Yours sounds like a super nasty crash and those brakes sound a bit unreliable.
Good to hear that your bike is OK, but sorry to hear that you are not. Hope you heal up quickly and are back riding again soon. emoticon

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    Hardcore, dude!

I'm a new rider (road bikes) and TERRIFIED of my first crash! If I'd crashed like that, I would have needed to be medivac'd off the mountain!

Sounds like an expensive fix on those brakes. Do they do recalls on bikes? Sounds like a manufacturing defect that should be recalled!


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JENN03275 7/28/2012 8:30PM

    Wow! I am glad you are "ok" in a sense. Thank goodness for the other rider, your experience and your helmet!!

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NWFL59 7/28/2012 7:50PM

    OMG! Bruce you do get into falls but this one has to be quiet the shocker to your system. I'm glad you were aided by a hiker with a stocked first aide kit and that you were able to safely continue your ride back and see the doc for your numerous physical injuries. Man you said you were injury proned but this one could have easily been so much worse. At least your bike wasn't totalled and you were able to get better informed about the brake problem. Did your non-warranty bike repair guy work on the brakes after you lost confidence in the other repair person? I suppose they manufacture safety pads for elbows and knees for mountain bikers, maybe its time you invested in some more safety equipment besides a new helmet. Thanks for blogging about your experience and letting us know that you're on the mend (once again). Try to take it easy on yourself and get fully healed before again attacking the mountain trails, advanced ones anyway since I'm sure you'll be back on the trails as soon as you feel able to navigate them.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KAREN42BOYS 7/28/2012 7:47PM

    Oh good heavens, Bruce, this sounds really hideous and terribly painful. How awful to suddenly be in the position of presumably considering a lawsuit for negligence. I hope you are able to sleep.

Comment edited on: 7/28/2012 11:13:49 PM

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KENDRACARROLL 7/28/2012 7:42PM

    Makes your last crash look very benign.
Hope you'll heal quickly. Take care of yourself.

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KKINNEA 7/28/2012 7:34PM

    Sorry to hear about the crash! I hope the facial stuff heals up quick and you can get your neck back in order.

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LINDA7668 7/28/2012 7:27PM

    Sorry to hear about your accident. Thank goodness that the helmet did it's job and that you will be ok. This will make me use a helmet when I start biking again, though they won't be as adventurous as your rides. I hope others will learn from this too. emoticon

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ANAJAK 7/28/2012 7:26PM

    WOW! I am glad you are ok (ish)... I have a lot of friends and family members who are also experienced cyclists who have crashed so the facial injury looks familiar to me!

Great example of why helmets are necessary too. In New Zealand helmets have been compulsory by law since the late 80s. People sometimes feel like it is a "nanny state" law, however I would most probably have lost a few friends and family without them.

Wishing you a speedy recovery...

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Nine Miles of Hell - They Don't Call This Place The Rocky Mountains for Nothin'

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Part One: "Why do you fall off your bike so much?"

On Tuesday afternoon my friend Jason and I decided to bike on dirt. We decided to take on Apex trail near Golden, Colorado. Jason was armed with his 26" Yeti 575, which is very capable dual suspension bike.

I had selected my Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon 29.

Jason's Yeti is a quicker handling bike. My bike is better at tacking obstacles. Both bikes are extraordinary machines. On moderately difficult terrain, Ultra Stumpy can clobber Jason's Yeti. On trails that are narrow with tight turns, Jason's Yeti is quicker that Ultra Stumpy.

You pay your money and take your chances. On Apex trail you are taking some big chances. To make a long story short, at the end of the day both bikes needed repairs and both riders needed a bandage or two. I think Jason's bike took a bigger hit than my bike. But my body took a mongo hit. Jason was just a bit banged up.

I feel like I was beaten over every inch of my body by a baseball bat. My knee was toast. The various parts of me that weren't leaking blood were bruised. My helmet needs to be replaced.

When my wife saw my injuries she inquired, "Why do you fall off your bike so much?"

Part 2: "I fell off my bike just once!"

I am not particularly clumsy. But I do get banged-up quite a bit. I may take a few chances occasionally. And Apex trail is just downright hard!

I did not get a photo of the trail sign that read, " Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate." which translates to "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." - See Dante's Inferno - inscription on the gates of hell.

Apex trail is nine miles of razor sharp boulders. These are very big rocks on a really steep trail. I know this looks like a fun ascent. Take my word for it - this is a tough climb.

Apex was constructed in the 1870's as a toll road to reach the high altitude gold fields. Erosion has made it a rather challenging mountain bike trail that is rated as "Most Difficult".

The switchbacks are rough and rocky with very loose surfaces. You have to keep pedaling and keep your weight distribution perfectly balanced. This is draining. It is very easy to fall over backwards or spin out.

This section is called the rock slide. We came upon a guy that had ripped open his front tire and destroyed his front rim. He was in a daze and was trying to fix his blown inner tube. He was a mess.

Part 3: Front Brake Lockup - That Is Going to Leave a Mark

Apex is an out and back trail. Ultra Stumpy can handle a fast descent over mean and nasty terrain. On the decent my front brake was making an unfamiliar squeaking noise. There was a place on the trail where there was a 3 foot jump followed by an amazingly steep downhill stretch. I was going way too fast and would be airborne for a long ways. I wanted to hit this jump at a controlled rate of speed so I could so I could get a slight rear-tire-first landing. I touched my front and rear brake. The powerful hydraulic front disc brake locked-up! OH SH_T!

I was catapulted into space.

My knee smashed into the rear shifter as I went over the handle bars. My knee shattered the forged alloy shifter mount like a dry stick of wood. It felt like my knee had been hit by a hammer. I pulled my hands into my mid-section and tried to tuck myself into a ball.

There are no good options at this point. I struck the ground after falling forever. I had a surprisingly soft landing but it still hurt. Both me and the bike were tumbling over and over and over.

We were both wounded.

How we made it out over there I have no earthly idea. I walked the bike a little ways and got back in the saddle. We had two more miles of hell before we got back to the car.

I only fell off that one time.

Part 4: Ultra Stumpy is in the Bike Hospital

I have no idea why the front brake locked up. Neither did the service manager at the bike hospital. I told him that the front brake was touchy. He took the Stumps for a test ride. He touched the front brake and did an epic front wheel stand. The only reason he did not go endo was he was not going very fast. He exclaimed, "Son of a B-----". He recommended a complete crash analysis. I agreed. The Stumps should be released this Friday.

Part 5: Jason's Yeti is Destroyed

Jason hit a washout and dropped off the trail into an abyss. He twisted his bike's rear triangle and tacoed his rear wheel. He went off the bike sideways and was OK.

Part 6: Road Biking

Tomorrow we are going road biking. We figure we can ride against traffic on the center line of the freeway and play chicken with on coming traffic and have less chance of getting killed than on our mountain bikes.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BIONICBETH 7/16/2012 8:44PM

    Wow...Look at that terrain! Looks like a great place...to take my bike for a walk. :-/ You guys are nuts!

Beautifully relayed adventure...I'm happy that you both came out of it with such minor...uh...scratches. (From one who has spent a fair amount of time muddy & bloody from less technical rides than these photo's depict!)

You know, I think you might be better off sticking with the off road trails, rather than the "playing chicken" in traffic. The trees never EVER jump out in front of you. Yeah, I know that doesn't mean that you don't sometimes hit them...but it's not their fault.

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KAREN42BOYS 7/16/2012 6:57PM

    Oh man. You are such an epic storyteller, I'd love to have you at a party, but my oh my if you were my husband, one of us would have to die, she says with her husband out biking in the local mountains... My guy had a gun pulled on him only once while out biking.

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KENDRACARROLL 7/14/2012 11:16PM

    Good Lord!!!
Boys will be boys :)
Glad you survived.

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ELYMWX 7/14/2012 5:31PM

    I'm only now getting around to reading the rest of the story.

{shakes head}

Bruce, just how old are you? Really? I hope you had a (less eventful) day today!

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ALDEBARANIAN 7/13/2012 7:55PM

    Good lord man. I don't think I could hike up there, much less ride a bike up there. Maybe you could try it on pogo sticks next!

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NATPLUMMER 7/12/2012 3:28PM


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NWFL59 7/12/2012 10:22AM

    Wow your idea of 'fun' and mine are quite different! I guess the super challenge and thrill that comes with mastery over the elements plays big for you whereas I'm just trying to master myself. Hope your knee injury doesn't preclude your participation in the other activities you love. Too bad about your friends Yeti becoming salvage. I'll leave all the daring stunts to you younger people! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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RAINEMARIE214 7/12/2012 10:16AM

    haha your mountain bike ride kind of sounds like my recent adventure up in Keystone, where I had FOUR epic falls in about a 20 minute time frame, including one where I flew completely over my handle bars and the bike landed on top of me! I have quite the bruises to show for it! I dont think I'm coordinated enough to handle steep / bumpy ascents and descents. For now, I think I need to stick to easier dirt trails with only slight hills until I pick up my coordination! My bike needs to head to the hospital too - I cracked the rear disc on my falls :(

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BILL60 7/12/2012 9:34AM

    And that's the reason I do road rides "Only".

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SLIMMERJESSE 7/12/2012 9:09AM

    Yikes! Great pics. Thanks. Better trails next time.

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LINDAKAY228 7/12/2012 9:06AM

    I am not a mountain biker but I used to work with a woman who was and she often had her tales of soaking in a bloody bathtub after a "fun" ride. You said that ascent looks fun but as an avid hiker I think it looks pretty technical even for a hiker, much less a biker LOL!
I am pretty sure you're not seriously going to play chicken with the traffic LOL.
Wishing Stumpy a quick recovery. And you too.

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SQUIRRELLYONE 7/12/2012 8:56AM


I'm sorry, but your story sounds epically familiar (I'm not a mountain biker, but one of my friends used to go all out down the trails near his home, and has plenty of stories like that one -- without the expensive bikes or bike dr.s... he did his own Frankenstein repairs, leading to an even more perilous trip the next time out!)

One of his favourite tricks to gross out his neighbours was to put duct tape sticky-side out on his helmet as a sort-of taking of ears to prove the deaths of a multitude of biting insects (he never received a reward for his efforts to depopulate the black fly and mosquito populations... strangely enough).

Good healing!

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CAROLCRC 7/12/2012 8:08AM

    And my husband thinks people who run are nuts! Glad you survived in better condition than the bike!

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    Better you than me! Good luck with that if you ever try it again. :) Glad you're okay!

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TOOTHFUL99 7/12/2012 7:19AM

    Wow! That turned into an expensive and dangerous ride!

I always say, "I'll stay out in the road, where it's safer!"

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JSTETSER 7/12/2012 6:03AM

    What an adventure!

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LMB-ESQ 7/12/2012 6:02AM

    You should change your name to CrazyDog. That trail looks ridiculous even just for walking, much less biking. Oh well, nothing like a life and death adventure!

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 7/12/2012 2:27AM

    Your last paragraph made me laugh. I think you might be right!! Wow what an adventure. That's a formidable trail! Poor Yeti. Hope Stumpy recovers fully and doesn't have any complications. Hope your knee is better quickly too. I've had my spills, but nothing that spectacular! I'm not particularly daring either. Take care and give that knee some t.l.c.

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EOWYN2424 7/12/2012 2:07AM

    Sounds like good exercise!

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I Got A New Road Bike

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Part 1: A Short History of My Bikes - Learning to Ride

I learned to ride a bike when I was 6 years-old. I may have been able to balance a bike before then. But back in the day, bikes were big. I had to grow to a sufficient height to reach the pedals on a 24" Schwinn "fat tire". Of course, in 1963 there was no such thing as a "fat tire" or "cruiser". A bike was a bike. We had a beat-up old blue Schwinn of indeterminate age. My two brothers and I used this bike to learn how to ride a "two-wheeler". My brother, Mike, is 6 years older than me and the bike was old when he learned to ride it.

We called the old Schwinn "Blue Bird". This photo is not of Blue Bird. But the color and general condition is pretty darn close. My dad and older brother taught me how to ride the heavy monster on the dirt roads in Golden, Colorado. I peeled off quite a bit of skin before I learned to ride. My general tendency to fall off bikes is a trend that continues to this day.

Part 2: Dangerous Bike

For the first 4 years of my bike riding adventure I rode old hand-me-down bikes. Some were pretty darn ugly and one was down-right dangerous. The dangerous bike was named "Crazy Crate", because you had to be crazy to ride it.

The goose neck snapped on Crazy Crate one summer day when I rode it off a curb. The handel bars came completely loose. I fell head-first off the bike and ripped a huge gash in my chest on the sharp remains of the broken gooseneck. My face smashed into the concrete gutter that was full of gravel. I saw stars. The evil bike then ran over top of me. I was hurt really badly.

Part 3: My First New Bike

I was 10 years-old and in 5th grade in 1967. On December 25th, 1967 I got my first new bike. Santa had left me a 26" gold Schwinn Typhoon! This bike was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

I didn't even open the rest of my gifts. I put on my coat, stocking hat and mittens. Grabbed my bike and headed out into the freezing Colorado winter weather. I was in heaven! These old Schwinns were well made by American craftspeople in Chicago. The bike was flawless and gleamed in the cold white winter sunlight. I rode Goldie a zillion miles.

In the summer my friends and I would race our bikes 8 miles to a swimming pool. We would swim all day, then race our bikes back home. Goldie was a great bike.

Part 4: My First Road Bike

When I was thirteen I got a paper route. By this time we had moved from small-town Golden to the Denver suburbs. I converted my solid Schwinn Typhoon into a paper bike. I got "long horn" handlebars and a spoke guard. I hung huge canvas paper bags off the handlebars emblazoned with "Rocky Mountain News". The "News" was a morning paper. Before school the district manager would drop bundles of papers on my driveway. I would fold the papers with rubber bands; load the papers into the canvas bags and pedal out in the quiet darkness of a sleeping suburb. I delivered over 100 papers and pedaled for miles. I got one and half cents for each paper I delivered. I made $1.50 a day.

I saved up my money. After three months I had earned enough money to buy my dream bike; a brand new 1971 Schwinn Varsity 10-speed for $90.

I added a "lightweight" hollow chrome moly front fork. I had the bike shop wrap the handlebars with black tape rather than the stock brown tape. I bought toe clips. The bike was metallic brown and it was amazingly fast. More Schwinn Varsity bikes were made than any other derailleur bike. This was my first major purchase. The Varsity is completely obsolete by today's standards. Back in 1971, it was a lot of bike for the money.

Part 5: Selling Bikes

In 1973 I was 16 years old. I worked for a lawn care company in the summer for $2.00 an hour. I saved my money to buy my first car. I wanted a sports car. I found a really pretty baby blue 1960 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite.

The Bugeye was perfect and had only 35,000 miles on it. I didn't quite have the $500 asking price. So I sold my bikes. I got $25 for the Typhoon and $50 for the Varsity. (BTW - I kept the Bugeye for 20 years. I sold it to raise part of the down payment for our first house.)

Part 6: Colorado Rocky Mountain Bikes

Our first house was in Conifer, Colorado. With a growing family, I was buying a lot of bikes; all for the kids. My wife took it upon herself to go to Target and buy bikes for her and me. Unfortunately, she purchased Huffy Granite mountain bikes. I think her idea was we would go on family bike rides. She didn't count on my sons and I racing each other. My wife and daughter would tool along totally disgusted by the juvenile behavior of the "boys". To this day, many years later, my wife and daughter refuse to ride with my sons and me.

This is a Huffy Granite. Rigid fork and 15 speeds. You can buy this bike today for about $100. Even though these are cheap bikes, they were durable and we rode the daylights out of them.

My wife and I moved around for some years. We lived in San Antonio, Texas. We moved from Texas to Maryland. Finally we moved back to Colorado and bought another house in the mountains. By this time the Huffys were long gone.

It was time to buy some good bikes.

In 2006, I bought my first good mountain bike; a Giant Boulder SE I call "Big Red".
In 2007 I bought a Giant Boulder SE for my Daughter Katie, and a Specialized Hardrock Sport for my son Andy.
In 2008 I bought my wife a Specialized Myka Comp (She was riding a horrid Mongoose and I had to force the new bike on her for her birthday - she loves the Myka)
In 2009, I bought a Specialized Stumpjumper HT Pro Comp (Sworks) called "Little Stumpy"
In 2012 I bought a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Carbon Expert. I call this bike "Ultra Stumpy"

Part 7: Buying a Road Bike

I don't mean to brag, but I know a fair amount about mountain bikes. On the other hand, I had no idea what road bikes were all about. I asked for some advice on the Spark Cycling Team forum. It is tough to ask for advice when you know zip about a subject. I was pretty certain that road bike technology may have moved ahead a smidgen since 1971.

I live in a place with a lot of rough dirt roads. I thought I wanted a road bike that I could ride from my house and over the vast number of rough paved and gravel roads in my area. They make such bikes. Giant sells the Roam and the Escape.

Giant Roam 0 for $820.

Specialized sells a bike called the Cross Trail.

This bike has some great features for $770.

However, the Crosstrail and the Roam look a lot like bikes I already own. So I did an experiment. I took my Boulder Giant SE and converted into a more dual purpose bike. I bought easy rolling semi-slicks and changed the rear cogs to something more road worthy.

The results of the conversion of Big Red is not an unqualified success. The bike is far more roadable. I covered 18 miles on pavement, concrete paths and hardpack paths. The course was rolling hills. My average speed was 9.1 mph with a top end of 32 mph. The gearing was a little too tall for the hills but the bike was smooth. I can keep fiddling with the bike. But I think the concept is sound. The mountain bike geometry made Big Red extremely maneuverable and responsive with the new tires.

I had considered the purchase of the excellent Specialized Tricross. This bike can handle dirt roads and has the gearing for mountain touring.

I test rode this bike and it impressed me to pieces. But would I really use a touring bike? I decided that I ride for fun and thrills.

I like bikes that scare me.

The Tricross was friendly, smooth and well behaved. It had plenty of speed but the speed felt smooth and stable. The Tricross is a multi-use bike that does not compromise. While I was at Wheatridge Cyclery on Saturday, they sold 4 out of 5 Tricross bikes. The only reason they didn't sell all five Tricross bikes is that I was test riding one!

They put a courtesy hold on the Tricross for me when I left on Saturday. I decided that on Sunday I would test ride a few pure road bikes. I already had a good handle on Big Red as a multi-purpose bike. I decided I would ride the Specialized Allez Mid Comp Compact and the Trek 2.1C. Both bikes had the SRAM APEX components that I liked on the Tricross.

I arrived 5 minutes after the store opened at noon and it was already packed. I told the sales guy I wanted to try the 2.1C and the Allez. They didn't have the Trek in my size. So I grabbed a 54cm Allez. The sales guy told me where I could go to get a real feeling for the bike.

I liked the white and red graphics. I crossed 38th Avenue and hit the gas. The bike surged like it was shot out of a cannon. My goodness that bike was fast! The Allez is a sport/comp bike with a light alloy frame and carbon fork.

I checked the handling. The bike was like a razor! I came up on a sharp corner. I accelerated toward the corner. I waited for the last split second, then counter steered and snapped the bike into a steep lean while shifting my weight to the outside. The bike zipped around the corner like it was on rails.

It scared the bejabbers out of me!

In other words, I was in love. I found my bike! I started cruising back to the shop at an easy pace. On one street was a traffic monitor that would flash your speed. The thing clocked me at 26 mph. I hit the gas and managed to get the sign to say "30". It was effortless.

I was on a 54 cm frame. But it felt a little tight. The sales guy told me to grab the 56 cm frame bike. There was a guy looking at the 56 cm bike when I grabbed it. He then put his hand on the handle bar. It was the last Allez in the store. He gave up his attempt to restrain the bike. The 56 cm frame was right for me. I bought the bike.

I had the shop wrap the bars in black just like I had done with my Schwinn Varsity in 1971. I also bought an upgraded black saddle. I bought black bottle cages, road pedals and road shoes.

This is my bike. The woman's version of this bike has the black saddle, which I thought looked better.

I think the bike looks like it is ready to spring forward.

Here is my new road bike next to Ultra Stumpy. I know Ultra Stumpy looks huge. Ultra Stumpy has huge suspension travel and sits very high for rock clearance.

Part 8: First Ride

My co-worker and good friend, Jason, bought a Specialized Tarmac SL4 over the weekend. After work we hit the road. We covered a little over 14 miles in about an hour. That includes stopping at traffic lights and getting stuck in slow traffic. I cannot believe how much ground those bikes can cover in such a short time.

This is fun.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARZIPAN22 9/30/2012 7:55PM

    I really enjoyed reading about your bikes. I was a riding fiend when i was maybe 8 through 13 years old, and also rode out of necessity in college. I'm just getting back into it after decades of non-riding and thought I was doing pretty well last night until I fell. When? Stopped stock-still upon dismount ! Only a little gouge on my leg and yes, I have to get back on again tonight so it doesn't defeat me. I believe it's undoubtedly easier to keep up with biking than to try to start out again in your 60"s !!

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ANAJAK 7/28/2012 7:32PM


I have a giant roam. It is awesome.

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KCNEWF 7/6/2012 3:25PM

    Nice Ride! Despite the fact that you went to the dark side of the cycling world! Have fun othe new ride. Is a century ride in your future?

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KA_JUN 7/5/2012 10:10PM

    Great post! And congrats on the new ride, she looks sweet! Really enjoyed reading the history of your bikes, very nice to read and see vicariously your cycling experience, especially since I'm laid up. emoticon

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    Nice!!! Thanks for the history, it's cool to see this has been a life long love. I'm sure this new bike with earn it's place in your bike history.

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NWFL59 7/5/2012 12:18PM

    Excellent choice! Wow it sounds like you have a lot of fun with your bikes up there in that Colorado rarefied air. Sounds like you are doing well. Glad to hear it!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BAILEYS7OF9 7/5/2012 11:47AM

    I still have my Varsity!!! Great bike... I too got mine on Dec 25th but we couldn't go outside with it, probably a blizzard. I remember riding it back an forth in the utility room! Like 2 pedals and you hit the end of the room going slow...

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BEAGLEMAMA2 7/5/2012 8:35AM

    My hubby has a SPLECIALIZED bike! I prefer 4 wheels so I would have gone with the sports car! ;)

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PAPAMIKIE 7/5/2012 12:16AM

    Nice I ride a something or other, that Gramie bought at a garage sale, not too fancy , not to fast, but it gets me from point a to b. I think your bikes and your bike history are wonderful, I very much enjoyed this blog.

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ELYMWX 7/5/2012 12:02AM

    Looks great, Bruce! Interesting that you and I both ride on 56cm frames, given the difference in our heights...

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COREY195 7/4/2012 11:51PM

    emoticon emoticon

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LKEITHO 7/4/2012 6:43PM

    Looks like a great bike! Now you have me thinking I need to go to the shop. Enjoy!

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LINDAKAY228 7/4/2012 6:10PM

    Loved the history of your bikes. Reminded me of when I was a kid and the basic bikes we had. Fond memories. Love the looks of your new bike and glad you're so happy with it!

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JSTETSER 7/4/2012 4:55PM

    Nice bikes! I have a Specialty and I love it.
Enjoy your new toy!!

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LISAINMS 7/4/2012 12:37PM

    I had a lime green Schwinn Varsity in '76 then bought another in '82. My favorite was the purple Schwinn I had in elementary school with the banana seat. We rode our bikes daily back then. Enjoy the new roadie!

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DOUG_HAAS 7/4/2012 12:18PM

    Nice bike. Another case of n+1, or are you getting close to s-1?

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NATPLUMMER 7/4/2012 12:15PM


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JACKIE542 7/4/2012 10:59AM

    I would like my old schwinn back!!! emoticon

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KAYZAKCX 7/4/2012 10:09AM

    I'm drooling.

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STRIVER57 7/4/2012 8:44AM

    looks great. and somehow lots safer than ultrastumpy. enjoy.

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BILL60 7/4/2012 8:32AM

    Pretty cool!! Enjoy your bike and don't think that it stops there. In no time, you'll be testing out some other beautiful pieces of road "bliss". Godd luck with your beauty.

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TOOTHFUL99 7/4/2012 8:23AM

    Thanks for sharing your biking history. I like the idea of how your bicycles indirectly helped you buy your first house.

Very nice bike! You need to find a swimming pool to race to!

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    Enjoy your new toy!!!!

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MPLANE37 7/4/2012 8:06AM

    Wow, impressive story. The last two bikes are mouth-watering. Congrats!!!

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GRATEFULBOB 7/4/2012 7:09AM

    so cool to see the evolution of your bike history . looks like you are ready for the nice weather . have fun emoticon

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TWEETYKC00 7/4/2012 5:24AM

    Wow, you certainly take your bikes seriously! I think my personal favorite is Stumpy.

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GBOOMER 7/4/2012 5:10AM

    Congrats! Your new bike looks awesome.

I admire how much detail you remember about all your old bikes. I remember my blue Schwinn Stingray with three speeds and a stick shift. But I cannot remember what kind of racing bike I had after that, although I rode that thing all over the place.

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PDQ1203 7/4/2012 3:56AM


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FITANDFIFTY2 7/4/2012 3:07AM

    What an awesome bike you chose!! Enjoy!!

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Stress Echocardiogram - Really doc, my ticker is OK

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Part 1: Serious Chest Congestion

Since March of this year I have had an elephant sitting on my chest. I have been coughing and wheezing a lot. I tired quickly and had no zip. My doctor prescribed antibiotics, steroid inhalers, Musinex and Albuterol. The Albuterol was to be taken 5 times a day via a nebulizer.

All these medications were intended to open up my lungs and get rid of great gobs of mucus. Yeah, I know, not a pretty picture. The story gets better.

Part 2: Tests, Tests and More Tests

By mid-May my condition had only improved slightly. I now had a hippo sitting on my chest. I was also experiencing a lot of pain in my chest. The doctor took an x-ray of my chest to test for pneumonia. I did not have pneumonia.

He then put me through a lung capacity test. This is where not having a baseline is deceiving. My lungs capacity was 115% of normal. Under normal circumstances, my lung capacity test at 140% normal. I have a huge boiler room. The only parameter that was low was the rate I could fill and discharge my lungs, which was only 79% of normal. It just hurt to breathe!

My doctor then brought in a portable Electrocardiogram (EKG) machine. His assistant stuck a bunch of electrodes on me.

The results of my EKG were picture perfect.

I have known my doctor for 18 years. We engage in friendly banter. He says, "Bruce, I am going to order a Stress Echo test." I reply, "Doc, I don't know what the heck that is. But I am pretty sure, that if there is only one thing that I got that is good, it’s my ticker." He smiles, "The three most likely causes of your symptoms are bronchitis, pneumonia or congestive heart failure. I just want to rule out anything that is going to kill you!" It is really hard to argue at this point. I say, "Ok, write me script for two weeks of the big guns antibiotic and I will go get the test." My lung congestion had a bacteria component and I had a sinus infection.

Part 3: Smart Little Cookie

My wife is a smart little cookie. I told her my throat felt constricted and I had trouble swallowing. My sinus were swollen and hurt badly. She said, "You have allergies." That is the reason you cannot kick your bronchitis." I shrugged, "Ok, what can I do about it?" She grabbed a box out of the cupboard and handed it to me. She goes, "Take this Allegra-D. I would die without it." I start taking the Allegra. All of a sudden all the different meds start working. My chest still hurts but the congestion starts to clear up.

Part 4: Stress Echo Test

On May 30th I am scheduled for the Stress Echo Test at South Denver Cardiology. The place looks like the Taj Mahal.

This is facility has 68,000 square feet. There are factories that are smaller! Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. I am sure that most major metro areas have several big heart centers.

I get to the Heart Center early and check-in. I have my running stuff with me. This test requires the victim - er - patient to walk on a treadmill. I couldn't drink any coffee before the test. So I am barely awake. Here is a link that explains the Echo Stress Test.


I noted that the Echo Stress Test is supposed to be "painless and harmless". Yeah, right!

They call me back and show me a locker room where I can change. I change into my running clothes and put on my trusty Nike Zoom Vomeros. A really cute girl technician leads me back to the torture chamber - er - examination room. There is a pretty young woman sitting at the ultra-sound machine. A smiling blond runway model walks over and introduces herself. She is the cardiologist. The cute girl asks me to take off my shirt. She shaves part of my chest and glues a zillion electrode patches on me. She then attaches 700 pounds of wires to the patches. She puts a blood pressure cuff on my right arm and an oxygen saturation sensor on my left finger.

I am convinced this is high school career day and the seasoned staff is going to walk in any second.

This picture shows a fraction of the electrodes. I had electrodes all over me.

The cute girl says, “PB 120 over 80; oxygen saturation 99%." I ask, "Is that good." In a surprised tone she say, "Oh yes, that is very good." The pretty woman at the ultra-sound types this information into her terminal. They tell me to lie down on a small bed by the ultra-sound machine on my side. The pretty woman plugs my wiring harness into the ultra-sound machine, she then grabs the freezing ultra-sound sensor and tries to push the sensor through my chest to my backbone. She says, "Resting heart rate is 54 BPM." I ask, "Is that good." I am pretty sure she thought her machine was broken. She simply says, "Yeah. Please breath normally." When someone stabs you with a metal probe that is one degree above absolute zero it is hard to breath normally!

But I got to see my heart working.

This is not my heart. But it should give you the idea of what the ultra-sound shows.

After getting a lot of images of my ticker, I am unplugged from the ultra-sound terminal and led to the medical treadmill.

They plug my wires and blood pressure cuff into the terminal next to the treadmill. The fun is about to begin. The runway model comes over. She points to a pain chart on the wall in front of me, "The chart is there so you can tell us how you feel. Level 1 is normal. Level 10 is excruciating agony." I ask, "How long is this going to take?" She looks at my size and graying hair and say, "Not long. Maybe 8 to 10 minutes. Just until you hit your exercise heart rate." I ask, "How fast is that?" She answers, "166 beats per minute."

I almost blurt out, "Listen doc, my heart has never gone that fast EVER! My heart just won't go that fast!"

The cute girl starts the treadmill. I can see my heart rate and EKG readout. She sets treadmill at a brisk walk. After 5 minutes, my heart rate hits 80 beats per minute. She asks me how I feel. I tell her I feel fine. She says, "I need to turn up the speed. Is that Ok?" I answer, "Sure". She turns up the speed to a slow jog. She has the incline set at maximum. My heart rate slowly goes to 100 beats per minute. I have already been on the machine 10 minutes. The runway model asks, "Where is your level of pain." I say, "About a 2." She responds with a concerned voice, "Can you keep going?" I nod and say, "Yes". The cute girl turns up the speed. At this point I am running. My heart rate hits 120 and then 130. I have been on the treadmill for 15 minutes. The runway model asks, "Can you keep going?" I say, Yup." She adds, “We need you heart rate at least at 140." The cute girl cranks the treadmill up again. I am pretty sure it is maxed.

I have monitored my heart rate during exercise. 131 bpm is all the faster it goes. At 25 minutes my heart rate hits 138. The runway model calls it good. Now I have to hurry over to the ultra-sound. I lay down on my side. Some of the electrodes on my side have slipped off. I am drenched in sweat. My heart is running like a well-oiled machine, but it has already slipped down to under 130 beats per minute. I am feeling dizzy. I needed to cool down. My chest really hurts!

So much for "painless and harmless".

Part 5: Conclusion

I had a very bad case of bacterial and viral bronchitis aggravated by allergies. My heart is in superb shape. The chest pain was caused by pleurisy. Pleurisy is an inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the lungs. This inflammation was caused by the chronic bronchitis. I treated the pleurisy with Aleve. My bronchitis is practically gone.

Part 6: I Can Ride! I Can Run.

I have been working my way back to fitness slowly. I managed to run a 5K in 31:07. That is way off my normal pace but I have not been running in months.

Yesterday, I took Ultra Stumpy up Red Cone Peak. I have been riding a lot of technical trails and wanted to relax.

This bike is amazing. Is shifts quickly and silently even under heavy load.

The way up to Red Cone is rough.

The climb up Red Cone starts at 9,000 feet and tops out at 12,801 feet.

This is the summit of Red Cone. I averaged 10.5 mph on the ascent and 27.3 mph on the descent. Top speed was 44.7 mph. I could have gone faster but the road was too rough. The descent was a rush.

I am back!

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SQUIRRELLYONE 7/12/2012 9:10AM

    I wish my heart beat that slowly... Normal exercise brings me up above my "ideal heart rate"... of course, that's mostly when I try to run (not something I'm good at... I kindof prance)

You, sir, are a machine!

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 6/29/2012 12:15AM

    It's nice to know what exactly was going on and that it is clearing up and your ride looks awesome, as always. Glad you are feeling better.

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BAILEYS7OF9 6/20/2012 12:49PM

    good to know! I have had pleurisy and it is major painful! Same as a bruised lung, which I did coughing my brains out!

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MPLANE37 6/20/2012 9:13AM

    Congrats, man. No heart problem is excellent news.

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HAKAPES 6/18/2012 4:35PM

    It was really interesting to read the details of the test.
You didn't tell, this max heart rate for you is normal, low or high?

When I run, my max heart rate is 185, and usually I do the cardio training between 150-165.

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LINDAKAY228 6/18/2012 2:46PM

    Glad your tests came out okay, you're going to live, and you're feeling better and back to what you love!!

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CBAILEYC 6/18/2012 1:33PM

    I'd noticed you'd been pretty quiet of late.. now I know why! I'm so glad to hear your ticker is in tip-top shape! What an awesome way to 'celebrate' getting back in the groove!
emoticon emoticon

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JSTETSER 6/18/2012 12:09PM

    Your wife is a keeper! Thank God for a wise woman.

You really like to climb to the heights! I just climbed Mt. Washington here in NH which is under 7,000.

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LISAINMS 6/18/2012 11:51AM

    Your wife is a smart woman. Sometimes it is really that simple. OTC allergy meds to the rescue. Hope you are feeling top notch and giving Ultra Stumpy a real run for it.

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NATPLUMMER 6/18/2012 10:45AM

I'm glad you are feeling better and are back to your running and biking!!

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MYLADY4 6/18/2012 9:35AM

    That is a phenomenal heart rate for a stress test. When I had one earlier this year my HR got up to it's normal 180 when I really workout and it looked great too.

Glad all is good with the ticker now bike away.

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    Glad that everything turned out ok with your heart.

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KAREN42BOYS 6/17/2012 11:40PM

    You are a great story teller! Love hearing about your heart working superbly!

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KA_JUN 6/17/2012 11:27PM

    dude, that summit of red cone looks beautiful, i can imagine the descent was well earned! 166 bpm?!? For me, that's slightly below race pace, and I never hit numbers like that indoors, ever. I can only imagine how hard they had you working on that treadmill, especially with your ability to inhale constricted. Nice way to spend and afternoon. glad to see you're in the saddle again!

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HKARLSSON 6/17/2012 10:50PM

    Woo hoo! Yay you! And yay for your wife giving you the Allegra-D! I've had a similar situation happen to me (chronic bronchitis + allergies = not a fun time). Glad to read that your ticker is in superb shape and the rest of you is on the mend. I swear, these doctors are getting younger and younger every year. I don't care what anybody says.

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GRATEFULBOB 6/17/2012 10:03PM

    It sounds like what I am going through all the heart tests and they say three arteries are less then 50% so they are not going to do anything. Still get tired real easy so needless to say going to go to different doctor . Glad to see you are back doing what you love to do emoticon

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HEALTHIERKEN 6/17/2012 9:26PM

    Imagine being too fit for the stress test to go as expected! You're a star : )
Congrats on your fitness level, and best wishes for getting completely clear of the infections. And, happy happy happy biking!

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KICK-SS 6/17/2012 8:00PM

    I'm glad that your heart and everything is okay, but I have to say that your descriptions of your "adventure" had me laughing so hard, I thought maybe I was going to need medical attention. What a way you had with the words and your description. It just gave me a vivid picture in my mind of your adventure or ordeal, whichever you chose to call it.

The things these doctors put us through sometimes!! I enjoyed the blog!

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NWFL59 6/17/2012 7:14PM

    What an ordeal! Glad you're ticker was confirmed to be hunky dory okay fine and your wife got you back on your anti allergy meds to help your other meds do their job and knock out that nasty bug you've been fighting. Your spirits must have soared as your cycled about the Red Cone trail. emoticon emoticon
Glad you're feeling so much better and lets hope this is the last of it.
I've undergone (a few years ago) that procedure (Echo Stress Test) but didn't last even 5 minutes before I exceeded the target range and the test had to be stopped way too early. The cardiologist was almost as ashen in the face as I was red! I told them I won't be doing that test again so don't ask me! emoticon

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TOOTHFUL99 6/17/2012 6:12PM

    Now you know. Better to be safe than sorry. I have a friend who bikes and does triathalons. He went through a time when he had no energy and trouble breathing. After extensive testing, they found one of his arteries was 90% blocked! He's all fixed now and back to his old self!

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LMB-ESQ 6/17/2012 5:55PM

    Those poor girls thought you were gonna drop dead on their treadmill! You showed them!

Glad your ticker is okay and you're feeling better. Welcome back to the trails!

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CAROLYN1ALASKA 6/17/2012 5:52PM

    Sounds like you have had a rough Spring. Glad to hear you're doing better and that it wasn't serious.

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STRIVER57 6/17/2012 4:55PM

    nice to have an officially approved healthy heart. and nicer still to finally feel better. looks like a really scary bike ride to me!

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LKEITHO 6/17/2012 4:47PM

    Glad to hear you are back at it!

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GAELA-I-CAN 6/17/2012 4:22PM

    How scared you must have been. I'm so glad they did the tests needed to get some answers. What a relief to know that your heart is ok.. I'm sooo happy for you !!!!!

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Ultra Stumpy and Me at Buffalo Creek - How Bad Can it Be?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Part 1: No Trail Building

I got to the Miller Gulch trailhead just in time to see a group of mountain bikers take off like shot out of cannons. Most were wearing camelbacks, but that was it. These folks had camped at the trailhead and took off early.

I quickly changed my shoes, strapped on my helmet, and slug a backpack with my lunch and work clothes on my back. I grabbed Ultra Stumpy and flew off after the group. They were supposed to be working on Raspberry Ridge or Blackjack. I cut up Homestead and climbed up Raspberry Ridge.

I never found the missing trail builders. I am pretty sure they decided to blow-off trail building and ride! The day was perfect!

Part 2: Me and Ultra Stumpy at Buffalo Creek

Me and Ultra Stumpy were raring to go. Me and Little Stumpy had spent many a joyous hour in Buffalo Creek. But we had not been on the upper trails off Miller Gulch. This was new to me.

Here is a link to the Buffalo Creek Trail map.

The International Mountain Bike Association lists Buffalo Creek, Colorado, as "Epic"! There are good reasons for this Epic classification. Here are some photos showing part of my ride. I was a bit too busy trying not to get seriously killed to take photos. I got these pictures from various sites. None of people are me and none of the Bikes are Ultra Stumpy.

This is a photo of the starting point. Miller Gulch Tail is a nice easy double track. In the morning I flew down this trail. Eight hours and 61.2 miles later, I was biking back up this trail to get to my car - every push of a pedal was agony!

I turned right on Homestead Trail.

Homestead Trail is a nice single track. This leads to Raspberry Ridge trail.

Homestead has some pretty parts. The entire Buffalo Creek area is an exposed granitic pluton.

Raspberry Ridge climbs to 9,750 feet. This trail is steep and rocky.

Here is Raspberry Ridge on the ascent. This is harder than it looks.

Part 3: How Bad Can It Be?

What goes up must come down. Blackjack is in the "Most Difficult" category.

How bad can it be?

There is a trail here. I had to stop a few times to decide where the trail was.

This is easy. Straight off the rock. This is what Ultra Stumpy was made for.

Take a look at this video. This is a guy on a Stumpjumper full suspension bike coming down Blackjack. Does this look hard to you ?


This is a really good time not to screw-up. The video is high-def and loads slowly. To get the full effect, you need to watch the video after it fully loads. This is a very steep trail and things happen in a hurry. At the end of the video the rider goes through a little creek. There is a climb after the little creek that puts you on the top of Sandy Wash Trail. Sandy Wash covered with decomposed granite is slippery and steep.

Part 4: Sandy Wash Trail

Maybe you can see the loose trail surface here.

Here is another great video of Sandy Wash Trail. This is considered an "Intermediate" level trail. Yes, it is intermediate trail for gonzo nut-job mountain bilkers.


This trail is smooth, steep and twisty. This is the domain of my hardtail - Little Stumpy. Ultra Stumpy can handle this trail, but I had to lock-out the rear suspension, drop the seat and stand on he pedals almost whole time to get the big 29er carving a low line on the turns. What happens if you get too high on a sharp turn? You hit deep loose gravel and wash-out and crash.

I got too high on just one curve. I tried to clip-out of my pedals before Stumpy and I hit the ground. But at that instant there was too much down force on the pedals. My feet were glued in! Stumpy flew off the trail. I finally came out of the pedals in mid-air. Stumpy and I parted ways and I landed chest first in the trail.

My landing hurt quite a bit. I also got a world-class raspberry out of the deal.

I took this photo today (Sunday). This will heal quickly . Yesterday when this happened my leg was a bloody and dirty mess.

Part 5: Easy Miles

When I got to the bottom of Sandy Wash I had done 16 miles. There is a nice dirt fire road that runs through Buffalo Creek. I cranked-up Stumps and flew along the road to Tramway Trail.

543 is closed to traffic. It has a few steeper parts and a few ruts but is classified as an easy beginner trail.

Tramway is a nice connecting trail to the 3rd segment of the Colorado Trail.

The Colorado Trail is a nice easy ride.

I hit the Buffalo Burn Trail just for fun. I did 25.4 miles round-trip on the Colorado Trail.

On the way back I hit Redskin Creek Trail (1.5 miles).

I hit lower Gashouse Gulch Trail. Gashouse starts off as an easy single track.

Gashouse his a really pretty trail and runs only about 2.5 miles.

Part 6: Just Not Thinking Straight.

I then lost my mind. I decided to ascend Sandy Wash Trail. I should have climbed Baldy Trail instead. As I made my ascent on Sandy Wash, my legs just gave up! I ended up walking my bike about 2 out of the 3 miles. I had put in 53.9 miles as I started to climb Sandy Wash. I had run out of water and food about 2 hours before. I was worn-out, hungry and thirsty. Walking actually felt good! At least Ultra Stumpy is easy to push.

I actually took off my 20 pound backpack and hung it on Stumpy's seat. I still had my trail building clothes with me! I had to keep pulling Stumpy off the trail due to all the riders bombing down Sandy Wash.

Part 7: Somebody Worse Off Than Me

I rounded a turn during one of my rare pedaling moments and found a guy sitting off the trail. His Trek Rumblefish was in a heap above him. I asked him is his bike was OK. I know it sounds stupid. But if the bike is OK, you get home. I could see what happened immediately. He got off he center of the trail in steep downhill section. I could see a big gouge in the decomposed granite where his front wheel had hit an launched him into space.

I dismounted to see if he was alright. He had a chemical cold compress on his knee. I was really impressed by his first-aid kit. Unfortunately, his right knee was laid open to the bone! His leg was bloody mess. There didn't appear to be any ligament damage. I helped him put on a compression bandage and saw him on his way.

As I slowly pedaled back up Miller Gulch, my muscles almost refused to work. It seemed an impossibility that I had been able to fly along trails effortlessly for hours and hours.

The car looked like a shining oasis when I finally made it back. The SparkPeople calorie estimator indicated I had use 8,006 calories in 61 miles of biking. I think that is low.

Part 8: Really Scary

I found a cute video about mountain biking called " Mel's 1st time Mountain Biking". This video scared the hell out of me. I would guess this video was filmed in the South Eastern United States. I noticed that everything was green and the forest had not burned.


What scared me was the front wheel wobble! Evidently, Mel had a helmet camera. She couldn't track the front wheel in straight line! Mel is a gutsy lady. I was expecting her to hit a tree or go off a bridge.

This is the scariest mountain bike video I have seen!

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ITSHOWYOULIVE 5/23/2012 7:02PM

    "Here is Raspberry Ridge on the ascent. This is harder than it looks. " I think it looks pretty hard to start with!

Impressive ride and glad you stopped to help the thrown rider. He may have been in a bit of shock, I'm sure you stopping and getting him fixed up and on his way helped TONS. I've never been brave enough to put bike to trail....just starting to consider running them...do love hiking them :). Have to say though every single biker I've encountered on a mixed trail has been considerate and polite to those on foot.

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JENN03275 4/26/2012 9:22PM

    Sounds like an awesome ride. I want to start trail ride this summer!

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SUZWARNR 4/26/2012 8:21PM

    Wow. I can't even run on a trail, nevermind bike on one. I'm very impressed. I don't know how you don't hurt yourself more than you do. I am planning on finding a trail this weekend to explore. Hiking only, but at least it gets me out doing something in this new state of mine.

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BEAGLEMAMA2 4/26/2012 7:33AM

    Nice bike ride! I wish I knew how to ride. I tried to learn but my balance is so off. My hubby goes a lot with friends from work.

Thank you for sharing...I always love to see scenery from around our beautiful country!

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JANNEPERRY 4/25/2012 9:55AM

    OK--I'm totally jealous of your scenery! But. . . I'm not sure I'm ready for a "danger is my middle name" type of experience you trail riders can have out there in the wilderness! emoticon

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KA_JUN 4/23/2012 10:54PM

    Excellent ride report, put a smile on my face to read it. Serious technical trail you've got out there...looks fun! Looks like "Mel" caught that log and slid her front tire across it. Ouch.

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ELYMWX 4/23/2012 4:43PM

    Something tells me I know what the next toy will be: a GoPro HD Hero2!

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BAILEYS7OF9 4/23/2012 3:20PM

    Ouch! Absolutely gorgeous area!

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KKINNEA 4/23/2012 2:45PM

    Amazing riding there - I get nervous rolling down a hill that's clear. Nice work.

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LINDAKAY228 4/23/2012 12:00PM

    Wow amazing ride through beautiful country! I had to laugh at the comment "it's not as easy as it looks" as it looked very difficult to me! Course I'm a hiker not a rider but tend to hike a lot of terrain like some of you pics. And it's never as easy as it looks in the pics. Even though I don't ride, we both have the same love of the trails for whatever reason. I also know the feeling after some long hikes up and down mountians of the car looking like an oasis and the muscles not wanting to work anymore. But still it leaves you with a great feeling!

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CBAILEYC 4/23/2012 10:51AM

    I wonder.. is that they they call it Raspberry Ridge?
emoticon emoticon
What an amazing outing. As always, gratitude for sharing!

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NATPLUMMER 4/23/2012 10:45AM

    WOW!! Ouch!! How does your leg feel today?

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ODAYSKI11 4/23/2012 8:56AM

    Wow! I love mountain biking but cannot do it at your level, I am impressed!

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    Wow...now that's a bike ride!!!!

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TWEETYKC00 4/23/2012 5:29AM

    You and Stumpy tore that place up! And that looks like a good tear out of you, too.! lol Bet you had a blast with it. Maybe next time you'll be able to stay up.

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KAYZAKCX 4/23/2012 2:02AM

    Sounds like a blast. It seems the more memorable moments come from "not thinking straigh". I bet Ultra Stumpy slept well...after rubbing it to Little Stumpy.

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    Ouch - andd this was for fun? I really admire your gumption. Hope the other fella was OK, too.

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