2009 marks my 4th trip to Hayward, WI to race in one of the largest and craziest events that we have in the Midwest. I did the "40" in 2005 and 2006. I was denied in 2007 which actually worked out very well for me. Due to my injuries last year, I raced the "Short and Fat" and secured my entry into this year's race.
If you have never had the Chequamagon experience check out this video from last year's race.
Thursday night I drove up to Spooner, WI, checked into my hotel room and immediately got acquainted with the 24 hour hot tub and pool. I topped off the night with a few adult beverages and some HBO. A little alone time was nice after the last two insane weeks I've had at work. Friday afternoon I met up with Peter, a fellow ChainSmoker, at the Telemark Resort in Cable, WI to ride the Ojibwa trail.
Now riding this trail the day before the 40 is NOT the wisest thing to do; I'll admit that. But you can't drive 5 hours to a place like Cable, WI and not ride the fantastic singletrack that is part of the CAMBA Trail System. It's seems so wrong. So that is exactly what we did.
Things were going well and we were cruising though the singletrack. Peter and I pre-ride at the same speed (or he is nice enough to slow down for me). After following Peter through the Ojibwa trail for about an hour, I took the lead. We hit some fast downhill doubletrack and I was flying. At the end of the doubletrack there was a huge berm/lip followed by a small drop. I didn't see it right away, but when I realized what it was, I thought "I'm FUCKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!". And I was.
It was too late to lay on the brakes because I was going over the handlebars if I did. So I tried to scrub a little speed off as I went over the sharp lip. There I went flying through the air, higher than I'd ever been in my life. In that split second, I started to contemplate a few important things. 1. Wheelchairs are not for me. 2. If I get out of this alive, I might just give up mountain biking. Many people sit on the couch while watching tv and eating potato chips. I can do it too. 3. Please let my bike be ok for the race tomorrow.
I proceeded to fly over my bike and smash into the ground harder than ever could be imagined. My knees were completely bloody. I landed on my shoulder and chest. My head bounced off of the ground. And my elbow impaled my stomach. Then I realized that I couldn't breath. I tried to get up. Peter pushed me down and told me not to move. He was sure I broke bones - maybe my collarbone. I started to panic. Why couldn't I fucking breath? Did I collapse my lung? Shit, we are in Cable fucking Wisconsin, there is probably not a hospital here (sorry, I have a potty mouth, I know). How the hell am I going to get out of the trail system? I'm going to die here. After about a minute of irrational contemplations, I started to calm down, realizing that I had just knocked the wind out of myself. Duh. Years of playing competitive soccer should have taught me this. But I guess in all the years of getting the wind knocked out of me, I've never had a blow this hard. (Even the time I collided head on with a goalie. I knocked her out, broke both her shins and scored a goal all at the same time. I momentarily was knocked out and had the wind knocked out of me. I still blame her. She was the aggressor and came at me with all her might. I was 110 lbs of goal scoring bad-assness back then.)
I got up, started to walk it off and assess the damage. The bike was ok. The rider had two blood knees, a stomach that hurt from being jabbed with her own flying elbow and a swelling arm/shoulder. It appeared that I'd live to ride another day, just maybe not in the 40. Peter and I started making our way back to the Telemark. We tried to take a short cut and ended up lost (of course). Finally after almost a 2 hour "pre-ride" we made it back to home base where I tended to my wounds, picked up my packet and headed back to my hotel to re-figure my Cheq 40 strategy. If crashing my brains out wasn't enough excitement for the day, a deer jumped out in front of me on HYW 63. My Dodge Dakota came within inches of hitting this terrified female deer. I may have even hit its back leg. My heart ended up somwhere in my throat as I veered completely off the road while driving 60mph, then righted myself back onto the HYW. Do you ever think the Universe is trying to tell you something?
Here is my knee, partially cleaned up for your viewing pleasure.