Hard Fall: Playing it safe doesn't always pay off

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Twice in the past three years, I've opted to walk around a dangerous looking section of mountain bike trail only to end up in the ER. Call it clumsiness, call it good intentions gone awry, call it bad luck- it happened.

Three summers ago riding the river trail with local Julien Havac, we came to a tricky rock strewn section. I said: "just to be safe, let's walk it."

Two steps onto the rocks and I slipped and fell hard. I got up looked around and that's when I noticed blood spurting out of my lower right leg.

Quick-thinking Havac pulled off his t-shirt, ripped it apart and created a tourniquet. Off we rode to the Westside BMC, me tracking blood across the floor as I gimped in.

Some nine internal and countless more external stitches and I was out the door and off the bike and pretty well restricted for two weeks.

Now comes this past Saturday's chapter in playing it safe.

On a section of the North Umpqua Trail, I was riding solo (read cautious) and got off to walk around a pretty bad section of trail. A fall here and you'd go down a steep embankment and then over a 15-foot cliff into a rock pile.

As I walked my bike through this section, I slipped and next thing I knew was cartwheeling down the embankment and then over the cliff. Luckily, small alder tress stopped my fall short of the rocks.

After checking to see if I was all there and that extremities worked, I realized I was virtually blind without my glasses, which had been torn off. A river of blood flowed down onto my face from a serious gash on my forehead.

I collected myself and started to climb out only to discover that my right thigh, left knee and left buttock were severely bruised. I crawled to where the cliff could be climbed and slowly inched my way upward.

Once back on the trail, it took me a few more minutes to retrieve my bike. It had fallen to the cliff's edge. Hanging onto a small alder tree and using it as my lifeline, I was able to retrieve my bike.

Thus ensued a three-mile walk out followed by a five-mile ride down the highway to get my car. Car found, I drove back to where I'd exited the trail to wait for my wife who was hiking.

I was a mess and thanks several mountain bikers, hikers and fishermen who saw to it that I wasn't in critical condition.

The rest of the story involves four hours in the ER at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg and an array of staples in my forehead. After the staples are removed any chance of becoming a screen star are long gone, except for perhaps bits parts of a truly mean, well-scarred character.

The bruises are deep, my ability to sleep is nil, the psychological wounds apparent.

Is it time to hang it up. I mean if you keep getting hurt while playing it safe, there has to be some sort of warning in that. Perhaps a more contemplative life is in order?


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