Free Beer for Epic T.R.'s
What's better than feasting on a few ripping accounts of Epic escapades involving misadventure endured over great distances in bad weather, and remote terrain? The kind of Trip Report that may change the temperature or increase perspiration of the reader's hands. Epic accounts typically involve distances, duration, injuries, bike-aneering, and navigational errors far beyond the scope of the original ride plan. Or not. Special props for arduous slogs through vertiginous territory in rain or snow. Unplanned bivys in miserable conditions without food or shelter count too. No misfortune goes unappreciated in a finely crafted T.R. And soloists are in a league of their own so to speak. Lets not forget lightning, snakes and large angry mammals. More points for quality story telling and photos or video. A bit of hyperbole is to be expected, but understatement tends to be a more powerful device -esp. if the author is known for this admirable trait. Lies, falsehoods, and blatant exaggeration should be avoided, or posted under a separate "Fiction" thread. Years ago I read an article in a climbing magazine praising the Epic format and enumerating the options. To paraphrase one memorable instruction: "Epics can involve serious injury, even death. A member of the party may die, but if YOU die, the account becomes a tragedy." I also recall another term that has become part of my bike lexicon: "Quality Suffering" (to be served in small, medium, and barely endurable doses).
In my 25+ years of mtb'ing, I would claim only semi-epics, with only one trip to the E.R. for self and misc. lacerations, trauma, etc. for teammates. Worthy endeavors all, but probably not of the riveting, read twice variety. Many of my fellow scoundrels have endured events worth sharing, which I would encourage here. I have also read a few top rate accounts from various MTBR posters, with some of the best being narratives of solo winter explorations in the Eastern Sierra. Well edited video clips are always appreciated, esp. when they elicit the "OMFG!" response. The format is sufficiently popular that the noun has become a verb (albeit regrettably overused). I was always surprised by the absence of an official "Epic" forum on MTBR. Perhaps a quantity response to this invitation could jump start that possibility.
And just to add incentive -in light of my own lack of a worthy entry, I will offer free beer (no limit) to the author of my personal favorite posted by 1.1.13. (Although I may choose to extend this deadline if there is high volume response) I would alternatively consider rewarding the poster receiving the greatest positive response -either option works for me. Prize rules: Prize limited to Beer only, which must be consumed solely by the author in a single session. The location being limited to pubs in Fairfax, CA at a time convenient to myself and recipient. (although, I may choose to extend gratis libation to other attendees of my choosing) A truly gripping account might pull enough weight for a slide show, verbal retelling or video replay, potentially at Ironsprings or Gestalt Haus. Many of those I admire most are too modest to retell past adventures. But a worthy rollick deserves retelling.
This solo ride in hypothermia weather, in the middle of nowhere, above the north rim of the Grand Canyon, was kind of dumb. But I drove so far to get there! I thought I was going to die when my chain broke at the farthest point in the ride. I've since moved to a new photo site and the photos are here.
I forgot about this one. I had my worst fall ever only two miles into a 37 mile point to point Tahoe ride. I sprained both hands (couldn't shift with my left thumb), scraped up my left arm, split my shin open (which later required stitches), and cracked a rib. I finished the ride.
I hate beer so give it someone else.
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OK Wherewolf, those are both qualifiers. Let's see what follows.
Really folks -no other Epic accounts to share here?
I have enjoyed a number of long rides over the years, often in back country, and we endured our share of discomfort & misfortune. But just by dumb luck (and a bit of planning) I can't offer up any truly worthy campfire stories. But just to avoid being labelled as "lazy" I will supply the following account which should really be filed under "Crashes" or general misfortune.
Back in the early 90's I rode up Mt Tam/Eldridge Grade and out to Bolinas Ridge. The plan was to continue back along San Geronimo Ridge and then on to Fairfax. This ride clocks in at about 37 miles depending on options. A somewhat longish ride, but nothing epic, unless you're really out of shape or perhaps on a 40Lb klunker. We had just passed Shafter Fire Road. Me on my '91 Merlin and buddy Ron on his new Moots (I can't remember the exact year of this jaunt). There is s short steep section past the Eucalyptus trees -often muddy & deeply rutted in winter. Suddenly Ron was off his bike & doing some weird rag doll dance -right in front of me. He flew off to the right using his face as a brake. The new Moots was dead ahead. I had just enough time to calculate the repercussions if I rode over his new bike. So I dodged left but endo'd into a soft, deep rut. I launched over the bars and hit hard. When I got up my left pinky was pointed skywards 90º. I pulled it back into position. But everything hurt -especially my face.
I checked on Ron who looked like he had lost a few rounds to Tyson. His lip protruded far out from his face and was leaking steadily. We were both fairly bloodied up. A group of riders showed up & one opted to go for help. There were no cell phones then, and we weren't ready for the pedaling return to Fairfax. Ron kept asking "What happened?" -Which he repeated every time I answered the question. This from a guy who never rarely crashed & was always on his game. I had a hole on the side of my head, a dislocated finger, and bloody shoulders (which I has used as brakes).
A State Parks ranger showed up & offered to drive us down to Sir Francis Drake Blvd. He realized we were fairly beat up & gave us a lift back to Ron's place where we changed clothes & drove to Marin General. In the waiting room we looked more like two losers fresh from a bar fight, and no one would sit near us. We took a bunch of stitches each (I needed a plastic surgeon/hand specialist). But we were discharged with some not very exciting meds. A few days later I found a chunk of beef jerky stuck to the hinge on my Oakleys. It had come from my left temple -an "avulsion".
To "Epic", we would have needed to pedal directly to Marin General -perhaps adding a bonus lap on Tam (with a major mechanical thrown in for good measure). Hopefully some of my clan will recount some of their tales that include a 40 miler, with a 12 mile technical descent sporting a broken clavicle; air med-evacs due to "exposure"; and a 100 mile Leadville race -starring a solo female rider at age 60.
Some Humble Submissions
The Sternum – April 1990
Riding solo has its pluses and its minuses. Today it was all minus. The ride was an area called Paria Canyon in Utah. Not the super remote wilderness part but the upper section near where you can pull up on a remote façade city where several western movies were filmed one of which was The Outlaw Josey Wales. The day was pretty cool and mostly fire road pedaling. After the movie set I was curious why the canyon walls had man made looking hand holds for easy rock climbing. Upon closer inspection I discovered that the sandstone vertical faces had been faced over with man made rock with the hand holds built in. Weird. Movie set?
Time is getting late so I head towards the truck downstream. After crossing this dry stream several times I suppose I’m getting a bit tired. As I enter the next sand crossing I learn the downside of pedals/cages/straps. Yep, remember the early 90’s? Clipless wasn’t really “In” yet and besides, I bought this Fischer Hoo Koo E Koo this way. I stall in the sand so push hard with my left foot and pull hard with my right. SNAP. As my right strap breaks my momentum is launched forward over my bars and as my bike lands, my chest follows it landing squarely into the middle of my chest. Ouch. My wind thoroughly punched out, I lay in a heap of pain in a state of shock. As I try to collect myself and asses s the damage my sternum makes a loud cracking snap and the pain sends me back down. Three hours later I’m still in that position but it’s getting dark and coyotes are calling. I’ve got water, food, and a jacket in by butt pack (yep, before camel backs) but I can’t reach around for it. Where is everybody? I saw cool jeepsters tearing it up earlier this day. No one. Get up. Sternum scraping and all, I manage to get up with the pain registering a 10. In a world of hurt, hyperventilating with ‘flail chest’, and diaphoretic, I look down at my ride and contemplate its future in my life. No, I will not lose my ride. I manage to get my foot under the stem and lift it to my hand where it worked pretty well as a crutch. I shuffled my way the 4 miles to my truck in now in the dark but now I’m unable to lift my bike into it. After some time collapsed on the front seat I know I am suffering from shock and who knows what. I can barely breath. I get out and flag down a motorist – a nice tourist from D.C. who gives me a lift to Page, AZ Emergency. After many X-Rays, the Doc comes in says “don’t move! “ Huh, I just hiked… “Just don’t move, you have a broken sternum and bone shards next to your heart, we’re going to have to send you to Phoenix where a cardio surgeon can fix you”. Oh yea, no insurance either.
Riding solo has its pluses and minues.
The Clavicle – September 2005
The ride is one I can’t go into a lot of specifics about. It is an epic point to point made possible with a pretty big car shuttle up route 5 in Northern CA. The views of the Castle Craggs, Mount Shasta and the Trinity Wilderness are almost as epic as the 33 miles of sweet single track. I was with some of my closest riding buddies and my wonderful super biscuit of a riding machine.
An omen? 10 miles into the ride is pile of guts right in the middle of the trail. Gross. Yes, it’s deer season and this poor critter got strung up and gutted right there in the trail. Kick the guts out of the line, nope. Another 10 miles of undulating trail along the ridge sets you up for one of those larger than life, write home to your friends about, smile from ear to ear, toast all near future beers to descents. From here it is 12 miles of granite ,pines and fir. 5000 feet of spine tingling downwards direction requiring full attention and advanced switchback finesse. This is what we’ve spent all year contemplating and here it is before us. Hit It.
I take the lead and start to sling my 6.4 Ti Litespeed Owl Hollow around like in my dreams the nights leading up to this. Unfortunately when I woke up it I was not in my comfortable bed at camp or home. Seems I got catapulted by one of those 6 inch tall granite cobble on end nuisances we call water bars. This one was lurking in the shade and I never saw it. I was crumpled, numb and dumb. My sweetie does and assessment and upon palpating my shoulders responds with an “uh oh”. No “uh oh’s”, what do you mean “uh oh”. What is it? Your collarbone is jello, its shattered, you gotta start walking.
My buddy Ronski is busy fixing my flat front tire which exploded upon impact. He agrees, start walking, you got almost all 12 miles to go. ****. Ok, collect yourself. I grab a tube and wrap my arm. I grab 2 vicodin and gulp then down. Hit it. I played cat and mouse with the group for the rest of the descent. They had a nice ride, stopping for the views, shredding the glorious trail, and adding bonus mileage at the end. I rode it out but at each turn would completely lose it as one handed switch backs I hadn’t mastered. I would crumple upon my bike in a bit of bother but got back on rode. My sweetie and I beat the group to the cars and were waiting in lawn chairs beers in hand for the reunion. No one could believe my presence, my relaxation, or the beer. Ok, maybe the beer.
Knowing my long impending Kaiser visit we stopped for In-n-Out. Delicious. The verdict? Left clavicle was broken into three separate floating pieces. It took 9 months for them to fuse.
Mangina – 2009
The trail was the Oat Hill Mine trail. You know it. The company was the same as the last story. God bless them for their short term memories and willingness to take me along. This story will be short but the photo will suffice.
We all had a great ascent with the challenges Oat Hill provides. Huge rocks, wagon ruts, rattle snakes, burning sun, and my luck are enough to kill me.
We get to the back side and continue our ride to see the caves and explore some of the backcountry trails that are less travelled. We intended to loop this ride back to Robert Lewis Stevenson State Park and take the toll road back to the Silverado trail. I decided to let the guys take the lead while I pulled back the reins to visit with Pumpkin for a while. That didn’t last long as I was losing site of the guys and just had to hit it. Not long into my acceleration I was suddenly tossed to the ground by an annoying fist sized piece of basalt. That would not of sucked so badly accept I came down on my straight bar end with my groin! Oh lordy I hit 10 on the pain scale again and lay there moaning and writhing. As Pumpkin was my only witness she stood there in disbelief and horror. I was holding my groin.
Knowing these guys were about to call Henry 1 for a medivac I popped the prerequisite vicodin and started walking out, going back the way I came. Ok, I told you I’d keep this short. The following is not for the faint of heart. Note the bar end outline!