I’d been hoping to race an enduro race since last summer and this past weekend was my chance. Excited and nervous, I headed to Keystone on Friday morning for the Big Mountain Enduro. It was a huge relief to run into Melissa Thomas, whom I’ve been racing against for 18 years, to take practice runs with on the 6 stages. After a few runs, I started to feel more confident and Melissa got me to drop a wood bridge jump that I never thought I would. Turns out she was right – it was super easy. I finished the day feeling less nervous for Saturday and excited to get started with my first enduro.
Never thought I’d drop something like this, but now I want more.
Saturday morning Melissa and I set out to practice run #1 before it closed for the racing to begin. We met up with a few of Melissa’s buddies and I felt good. The first three quarters of the run were fast on smooth green runs. This led into Helter and Skelter at the bottom. Helter dropped into the most technical part of the weekend (at least in my opinion) then dropped into Skelter. Nothing crazy but a series of 3 small rock drops.
Helter video: Melissa showing off the ‘Tripod’. Way better than the ‘Not Today’, ‘Biathalon’ or “Hesitation’
Coming out of Helter, I slid out in the turn leading into the drop of Skelter. My foot out of my pedal, I dropped into Skelter and went over the bars on the first or second drop. I hit one of the aspen trees on lookers right with the right side of my back. It really didn’t hurt so I got back up and tried to jump on my bike. After a few steps, I had a shooting pain though my hip and quad and quickly realized I wasn’t going anywhere.
The scene of the accident. Check out Pink Bike for more photos from Devon Balet and me on the backboard being carried out.
Photo by Devon Balet
“This relatively mellow looking section took down several riders over the weekend. A hidden pedal grabber at the top of the rocks sent a few racers for a ride. Roy Benge demonstrates a clean ride through.” -PinkBike
The Keystone Bike/Ski Patrol arrived quickly and evaluated the scene. I was told there was no arguing and that I was going to be taken to the hospital via ambulance. Normally I would protest but this time I succumbed due to the excruciating pain. Mike Daly, head of ski patrol, took control to get me on the backboard and into the truck as quickly and safely as possible. Despite being in intense pain, I was thankful for the professional and caring patrollers – they even got me to laugh a few times.
Once in the ambulance, an IV was started and the pain meds took my pain from a 10 to a 9. Better at least. The thought was I had broken either my femur head or pelvic bone as that’s where all the pain was concentrated. X-rays and CT scan showed nothing was broken so now it was just controlling the pain.
Ian arrived along with Eva Hagen and both were not convinced I hadn’t broken anything as I could not move without screaming in agony. After about 6 or 7 hours in the ER, I managed to get myself in a wheelchair and into the car. I didn’t move off the couch Sunday and made it to Steadman Hawkins in Vail on Monday. At this poiunt my pain had moved more into my back so we were able to x-ray the correct area. Turns out I had broken my L2 and L3 transverse processes on my spine. These little guys protect your nerves so the muscles were spasming and the nerves going crazy, causing the pain in my leg and hip.
I’m home on the couch for a week or so. Then a few more weeks of taking it super easy. Hopefully I can manage to be a good patient and allow everything to heal so I can get back out in September.
As for my ‘enduro career’ – it wasn’t the shortest. It just hasn’t officially begun. I’ll be back and I’m already looking forward to it.
Great photos from the weekend can be found on PinkBike and Mountain Flyer.