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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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    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.
    2043 days ago
    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.
    2043 days ago
    Good Lord!!!
    Boys will be boys :)
    Glad you survived.
    2045 days ago
    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!
    2045 days ago
    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!
    2046 days ago
    2047 days ago
  • NWFL59
    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
    2047 days ago
    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 :(
    2047 days ago
  • BILL60
    And that's the reason I do road rides "Only".
    2048 days ago
    Yikes! Great pics. Thanks. Better trails next time.
    2048 days ago
    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.
    2048 days ago

    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!
    2048 days ago
    And my husband thinks people who run are nuts! Glad you survived in better condition than the bike!
    2048 days ago
    Better you than me! Good luck with that if you ever try it again. :) Glad you're okay!
    2048 days ago
    Wow! That turned into an expensive and dangerous ride!

    I always say, "I'll stay out in the road, where it's safer!"
    2048 days ago
    What an adventure!
    2048 days ago
    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!
    2048 days ago
    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.
    2048 days ago
  • EOWYN2424
    Sounds like good exercise!
    2048 days ago
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