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Thread: Man of Iron

  1. #1
    SRR is offline
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    Man of Iron

    Because this topic came up in another thread, I just have to tell this story in its own thread for the edification of all; it's something you'll remember, especially those who are familiar with the trails involved, unlike some to whom I've related this story and partly failed to impress because they had a hard time imagining the terrain. Anyway,

    Once upon a time, on a trail far away (17 July 04 actually, near Greenwater), my partner and I decided to granny our way up Corral Pass, then clamber along the ridge towards Noble Knob, returning via Ranger Creek. There were no other riders about that day and I recall seeing only one faint set of tracks going up the road ahead of us. After we started down just beyond the Ranger Creek intersection but before the switchbacks, a mile up or so from the shelter, we encountered a solo rider coming from the other direction. I stopped in my usual way to exchange smiles and some attempted wit, since I was impressed to see someone actually riding up that trail for once. Before I could speak though, I happened to notice that he only had one leg -- yup, you heard that right -- and all that came out of my mouth was, after a dramatic pause and summoning all the tact I possess, 'BUT YOU ONLY HAVE ONE FRIGGIN' LEG!' :-o

    Well, I guess my reaction was so utterly candid and stupified that he didn't take offense. He must get that all the time, so he just smiled. But that's not all. . . .

    It turns out that the faint tracks we'd spotted earlier were his. For he'd already climbed Corral Pass just as we had but had decided to drop down via Deep Creek instead the first time. Now he was on his way up again via Ranger Creek to see if any snow still lingered closer to the Knob (yeah, 3 weeks into July). Anyway, he must've been half-hearted about this because he complained for lack of water -- he only had two 16-0z bottles with him, no Camel-bak -- and so opted to turn around there and then and follow us back down. Bear in mind he's on a modest XC-ish hardtail -- four chainrings notwithstanding -- while we're astride much more capable double-springers -- operated of course by double legs. My partner was astride a serious Ellsworth with oodles of noodle and some honkin' big discs, and like me, he's an aggressive, experienced rider, who really likes to let 'er rip with some assistance from Sir Isaac Newton. Well, we didn't want to drop this guy with a handicap right away -- that'd be much ruder than my earlier comment -- but we didn't want to squander the downhill we'd worked so hard for either! Now it gets good because,

    He passed my partner almost immediately in the second switchback! I was horrified when I looked over my shoulder to find him hard on my tail, with my partner in the background, upside down in a heap and with his feet in the air. So, no more Mr. Nice Guy. I spun up the big ring and rocketted down that mountain for all I was worth. There was no way I was gonna let a one-legged rider beat me down that mountain. Well . . . I just barely succeeded, and only after going over my bars no less than three times. Luckily, I'd managed to stay just far enough ahead to prevent his witnessing my spectacularly embarrassing biffs, from which I recovered hastily in a frantic scramble each time. No doubt he must've wondered why all those dust particles were hanging in the air when he reached those points.

    Anyway, I was nursing a pinch flat at the very bottom (rare for me, if that suggests how hard I had to push). He arrived a few moments later and we chatted and joked for a few minutes, while I repaired my tire and gave my partner a hard time about his gnarly bike -- with those big-ass discs and all that travel -- bringing up the rear. The guy introduced himself as 'Brett' and we chatted for a bit before finally parting ways. He related a story of how he'd got run over by a Jeep during some race or other, and how, as he was being airlifted to Harbor View, he'd asked the air crew whether they were same ones who'd ferried him to the hospital after losing his leg, years previously -- only because he wanted to know whether he qualified for frequent flier miles! Jeez!

    When I got home that night, the first thing I did was google 'one-legged mountain biker' and -- bam! bam! bam! -- a dozen hits popped up about 'Brett Wolf -- Man of Iron' , 'Lone Wolf -- World Class Endurance Racer', etc. So I'll leave it to the rest of you to find the links and read more about this amazing rider (particularly some of his racing history). A quiet, modest, unassuming guy in person -- no hint of arrogance or any indication that his single, unexceptional-looking leg was capable of so much.

    That's my story. I hope it inspires everyone here as much as it does me. As I've said before: Whenever I feel sorry for myself on some gruelling climb, or my partner starts to whimper, as he most often does, I just say, 'Hell, any one-legger can do it! What's your problem?' :-|
    Last edited by SRR; 03-02-2007 at 03:18 PM.

  2. #2
    FM is offline
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    Bret's an awesome rider and a really nice guy too.

    I've worked with him at a few different shops, and had the pleasure of watching him clear technical sections of trail that nobody else has. (south shore of whistle lake in anacortes, the whole friggin' thing!)

    The fitness is to be expected from somebody who's ridden trans rockies and test of metal for many years. What always blows me away are his trials skills, cause he's a pretty good trials rider! I've met a lot of fit cyclists, but not many that can trials as well.

    Cheers to bret! Say hi if you're reading.

  3. #3
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    Any story about Brett is always a good read. I'm sure there's plenty of us here who have ours.
    Mine was the first time I ever met him as well. Circa 1995. A mutual friend brought him without telling me out to a hammerfest at Victoria Tract and when I saw him come around from the passenger side of the car, I admit I deflated a little expecting that my hammerfest had just turned into a babysitting ride.

    Many of you know what really happened if you've ridden with him. The first time I've ever seen a one legged back ratchet stall on a climb and still cleaned stuff we couldn't.

    I've had incredible respect for Brett since then and he's definately an inspiration to anyone who meets him on the trail.

    Thanks for sharing. Brett sightings are always pretty cool stories.

  4. #4
    Just roll it......
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    My Brett Wolfe story.

    We're riding Kachess Ridge 4 years ago on a beautiful early summer day. It must've been a weekday because we were the only peeps on the trail. After the initial stretch of the trail climb (hike), me and another buddy say "screw this, we're taking the road" while my other two buddies decide to go up the trail.

    As we get to the top of the road, we head down the steep hill and up the hike a bike to the saddle. About 5-10 minutes later, my other two buddies get there and we sit around soaking in the sun and snacking. At that point, Brett comes pushing his bike up the hike a bike while hopping on his one leg. We're all looking at each other to make sure we're all seeing the same thing. My one friend, Chris, says "hey, you're brett" and he confirms that he is and we BS with him for a few minutes (Chris had met Brett through FM).

    Anyway, after chatting and drinking some water, Brett had to get going so he could meet some buddies out near the Teanaway to get another ride in!!! F*cking unreal.....and a total inspiration.


  5. #5
    JRA is offline
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    A Brett story

    Mine goes something like this. I got to see Brett at one of the first 24hr races in Spokane. Either that year or the next, I was up in Squamish for my very first running of the Test of Metal. Met Brett stretching out in the starting chute and chatted with him a little bit. It was only after completing the race and slogging up the hike-a-bike section that I realized how tough Brett really is.

    A truly gifted athlete and a really nice person as well.

  6. #6
    SRR is offline
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    MEN of Iron

    Quote Originally Posted by SpawningGround
    BTW, does the dude with no legs post on here? He is freakin awesome. I've seen guys with both their legs who are not ever half as good as that guy. Nice guy too.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mt. Biker
    I just ran into him a few weeks ago and talked to him for a few min. as we were getting ready to go and he was loading up to leave. It was inspiring to see him ride up and load his bike in the roof rack then hop in his car and drive off just like anyone else (accpet he changed his legs before driving off) looking much less tired than I do after a ride, makes me feel like a wuss having 2 legs and all.
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkHL
    I believe the guys name is Jeff Humphrey (or Humphries), he normally parks near the old Gold Creek parking lot next to the stream crossing and almost always rides Tin Mine. He said he lost his legs in the first Iraqi War (Desert Storm) when he stepped on a land-mine. He works for the company in Poulsbo that develops artificial limbs.
    Man, I'm glad I started this thread! I love reading these accounts (especially ebxtreme's experience on Kachess Ridge! I can just see the look on their faces that day. :-). But as you can tell from the quotes above, the original thread which prompted me wasn't about Brett at all! but someone else altogether. Maybe someone here knows more about this guy too. He may not have had the same opportunities as Brett (or share the same incredible genes), but he certainly exhibits the same spirit! :-]

    I also know a guy, Steve, at an LBS in Lakewood, an accomplished rider who races cyclocross and who's been mountain biking one-armed for years. He doesn't slow anybody down either, as some of you probably already know.

    Don't you have to wonder sometimes, with Men of Iron like these -- what if it were me? :-|
    Last edited by SRR; 03-02-2007 at 03:21 PM.

  7. #7
    Paper Street
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    Did he ever get his bike back?

  8. #8
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    Hey SRR there are two in Tacoma with one arm, both real nice guys.
    Not Steve, but the other guy actually came and visited me in Seattle when I was in the hospital for 3 weeks. He watched them take all the staples out of my gut, he was impressed.
    I see Steve all the time at psyclo-cross, great guy.
    Been out on the hill? I've been ou twith my headlamp brushing back a bit.
    Hit the 35 mile mark in Cappy!
    More fun than an open casket funeral

  9. #9
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    Cue the Black Sabbath...

    Great story!

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