Obligatory Highland Mountain Crash Story

At the last minute, I decided to take Thursday off from work to go ride Highland Mountain Bike Park with Thom and Dan. I assume my experience was the norm for most XC-racer-dorks borrowing an all-mountain bike and riding Highland for the first time:

1) Buy baggy shorts in an attempt to fit in. As the only person in a jersey and non-full-face helmet, you still do not fit in, but at least no one has to look at your butt.

2) Observe tabletop with 60-degree launch ramp and landing 10 feet down the hill. Calculate hang time required to reach landing area. Pucker.

3) Start with the easiest trail. Discover what kind of stuff you can get away with when you have six inches of travel and a slack head tube. Go faster each run.

4) End up lying in the woods, with one shoe off, 10 feet from your bike.

Like I said, typical XC dork stuff.

Well, maybe the fourth one deserves some elaboration.

So it was your typical cross-slope run, descending at 20%, then falling away to 30% into a rockin 45-degree bermed hairpin. Sweet. I'd done it a few times before, but apparently this time I was carrying enough speed (20mph?) that when the pitch dropped to 30%... I left the ground.

Thus, I was hovering a tantalizing 4 inches off the ground at the point you would need to lean into the berm. The bike returned to earth soon after, but it turns out that landing in the middle of a berm is not the same as turning through one. I pogo'ed straight off the top of the wall, dumping the bike and flipping upward into a grove of small trees. The trees stopped my spinning abruptly, which led to my sunglasses and shoe flying off deeper into the woods, but they slowed me down without breaking any bones. Then I fell out of the trees, landed on my back, and was shocked to find out that I was not in extreme pain. Ta-daaaa!

The aftermath. Note broken/bent trees and how far uphill my bike is.

My shoe, being large and silver, was quickly located and reattached to my body. My sunglasses -- being small, brown and borrowed -- were never found.

Fellow XC dorks, I strongly recommend getting your hands on a downhill bike, some baggy shorts, and making a trip to Highland. You will not be disappointed. Your confidence may quickly surpass your skillset, but don't worry, it'll correct itself pretty fast. Or so I hear.


Nat said…
Wow. Absolutely never.
RMM said…
Wow, what would happen to a road dick? Death?
Cary said…
I gotta head up there. A buddy of mine at work rides there every sunday. It is so different. Don't worry I was playing beach soccer and football all day and now I can barely walk with soreness. So much for having a good race at Putney...
Colin R said…
RMM: I think the term is "hilarity would ensue."

Anyone who can ride a mountain bike downhill could survive Highland. Well, some of the trails. I wouldn't recommend the one under the lift, because coming up 75% short of clearing a tabletop with people watching is pretty embarrassing.

You only crash when you push it, unfortunately, that's part of having fun.

For the love of god, do not try to ride here without a real downhill bike though.
Big Bikes said…
That was scary that time my bike went flying into the woods and I was like "Oh god, bike are you OK?".

You are lucky you are still young enough to bounce.

I feel like I was put in a large duffel bag and beaten with pipes.

Good times.

trackrich said…
Total and utter hilarity would ensue if a barely skilled 6foot8 rider who makes any bike top-heavy went there. You bring the camera, I'll borrow a full-face...
megA said…
is what you did called "high siding" a turn?
Colin R said…
Whoa, I just looked it up and you're right, Meg!

High Siding
Unknown said…
You would have loved day 1 of BCBR: On the preride we met some freeriders in full-face helmets who asked us why we were up riding the north shore (in spandex), we told them BCBR was going down "Severed Dick" (actual name of trail, apparently for good reason). Their respone: "We don't envy you"
ElZo said…
Anal-retentive ex-motorcyclist comments:

Doesn't sound like what you did was the same as a motorcycle high-side. A high-side happens when your rear wheel loses traction, and starts to slide out; Then the rear wheel regains traction (e.g. because you ease off the throttle in reaction to the skid). The sudden forward thrust makes the bike stand up suddenly, flinging the rider off.

Here's an example. (Slow-mo of the highside starts at about the 2 minute mark.)
Colin R said…
ElZo -- I grudgingly admit that you appear to be correct. Guess I am not cool enough to "high side," after all.

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