Flat Rock June 2008

Jonathan, Jordan, and I took bikes up the Flat Rock Trail outside Colonel Denning State Park. We pushed/carried/dragged them the 2.5 miles up to the top. Somewhere I had gotten the idea that Flat Rock Trail was fun on a bike. I’d been up three times before on a bike, and hadn’t taken any serious falls, so maybe I was a bit jaded as to the reality of huge rocks on an incredibly steep incline. To say nothing of logs, trees, hikers, and everything else that jumps out onto the trail in front of a descending biker. We reached the top in fine spirits; a remarkable feat in anybody’s book is to carry a bike for 2.5 miles over such terrain. We hung out on the top for awhile doing the normal Flat Rock things such as hucking rocks and watching them explode in granite smoke, spotting the Capitol building in faraway Harrisburg, finding familiar landmarks, looking down on turkey buzzards (who were quite possibly congregating because of future food prospects while they watched us prepare for the ride down), and dangling our legs over the edge looking for timber rattlers in the rock field below.

So we started down. We pushed for the first hundred yards to clear the top of the ridge. I have memories of previous trips when I lowered my seat to the max and put the seat against my rib cage, but these memories were very dim or nonexistent when starting down. I didn’t lower my seat, and just sat on top of it like a good biker should do, at least while on the road. It was difficult to get going, as I couldn’t build enough momentum to conquer all the goonies on the trail. Finally I got going and settled in for the long coast. Then a drop came and I just rode over it, or rather my front wheel did and -surprise!- then it stopped. A brain can think incredibly fast under such circumstances. First, I analyzed the situation and concluded there was little I could do, other than try to go over sideways instead of doing the classic long cartwheel style. My next thoughts were that, try as I might, I wasn’t being successful with the sideways thing. Then, “I’m doing it! An actual straight-on endo!” And I did it. The bike landed on top of me. My arm was wrenched around and I was sure it was broken. I couldn’t move it and the arm was numb. I couldn’t move anything right then. I was pinned by the bike between some big rocks. Jonathan came from behind and lifted the bike off of me. After a little bit, I could move my arm, but it was kind of painful, and I had a few brush burns.

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. I rode very cautiously, and managed to go the rest of the way down without falling. My arm felt somewhat detached on the ride down; like it was loose in its sockets or something. By the time I caught up with Jonathan and Jordan, who were waiting for me close to the bottom, it was quite sore and stiff. Jordan had some trophy cuts on his arm from one of two falls he took.

The ride was rough all the way down. The roughness didn’t let up at all until just before the end. To let your mind wonder, even for a few seconds, meant a crash. It’s riding at the peak of alertness. And it wasn’t even really fun. We had talked about it and practiced for it for so long, and when we actually did it, the ride was still painful and still rough all the way down. Maybe it’s a bit like rock climbing is for me sometimes; the approach is hard and long, the climb itself is terror, the top isn’t that great, I’m hungry and dehydrated, the walk back out is an endurance marathon- but when it’s all done, I’m glad I went. I don’t understand why, but I enjoyed the ride. After I was done, that is.

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