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?' :-|
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Thread: Man of Iron
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