Early this morning, on the world class trails of Lysterfield Park in Victoria, I managed to pull off a dazzling, gravity defying total chin grind. The chin grind is a difficult and dangerous Mountain Bike stunt that only the very reckless, the truly brave and the completely incompetent can pull off. The reward for my stab at biking infamy is a beautiful black eye, a swollen and cut jaw and a host of other cuts and grazes that, if you squint, bare an uncanny resemblance to a map of the old Soviet Union. Quite how I managed to do so much damage to myself in one incident is still a mystery. But as a result of my technique failure, I can’t sit down without wincing, chewing is a problem and I won’t be going out without my sun glasses for quite a while.
The irony is, I had only returned to Lysterfield Park, to ride a small section of the trails with a couple of photographer friends in the hope of getting some photo’s for an article about the course I had already written. I had ridden the trails previously without any incident and I felt more than confident about riding them again. After my last visit I had even written, and I quote, “I had managed to ride most of the day without any meaningful incident and only a few minor cuts and grazes“. I obviously should have quit while I was ahead!
Our intention was to find some impressive obstacles to ride over and hopefully photograph ourselves taking some air. The whole thing was to take no more than an hour and as we worked our way down the trail we banged away at every obstacle we found, camera’s clicking freely. As artists, my friends were not content with the point and shoot brand of photography I favour, they wanted to take the perfect shot. So, I had to ride the jumps again and again and of course, as a fully fledged man child, I was only too happy to oblige.
We had just moved on from one jump which I had been banging for about 15 minutes, to another almost identical, but significantly larger obstacle a little further down the track. I don’t know if it was because I had the previous jump off to pat after hitting it (and nailing it) so many times, but I didn’t give the new jump the respect it deserved. I ignored the fact that the obstacle was much bigger and the top log was protruding significantly more. For some inexplicable reason I didn’t even ride it slowly first time over, I just hit it at full tilt. As the log was protruding so much more, my body wasn’t far enough back behind the saddle when my back wheel hit. It leapt up pushing my front wheel down hard towards the dirt. To add to my woes, the trail dropped off after the jump so I had even less margin for error. I rolled over in the air way beyond tipping point and hit the floor so hard my lid cracked almost in half. I lay prostrate on the ground. It took me a couple of seconds to work out where I was and whether I had broken anything significant. Luckily, as I slowly stretched each of my limbs and shook my head, the thing that seemed to be hurting the most was my ego.
As I extricated myself from my bike and struggled to regain my focus, I shouted to my friends, “Did you manage to get that on camera?” No, they replied, we were too busy worrying whether you’d live or die!” “Good”, I said firmly, before struggling to my feet and dusting myself down. I stood there, shaking, caked in blood and soil. I attempted to act as if everything was fine and my face plant was nothing out of the ordinary. I gave them my ‘felt nothing’ face and jumped back on my bike. “O.k. Lets go” I said, biting my lip. God, I wanted to cry like a big fat girl.