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Ray Keener: Pride goeth before the fall

Published September 5, 2012
Ray Keener

It's not often that I quote the Bible. Or fall off my bike.

I'm old and cautious. My bones heal more slowly than they used to. Plus, I would surely perish if I couldn't ride my bike and play golf. So it had been decades since I've had a major bike mishap.

The last one I remember: Getting hit in the ass by a protruding California mirror on an RV. Central Expressway, Sunnyvale, California. 1985. Bell helmet probably saved my life. The one with the real skinny straps, can't remember the model name.

And never any major endos on a mountain bike. I'm an Intermediate mountain biker at best, and I know my limits. Always willing to walk down, or up, anything I don't think I can handle.

Lennard Zinn fitted me to a new mountain bike a decade or so back. Put on the adjustable stem, fiddled around, and pronounced me dialed in.

"Jeez, Lennard, it feels a little short still."

"Well Ray, you really don't want to be any farther forward or you might go over the bars."

"Uh, Lennard, I don't go over the bars."

Well, I finally did, on Saturday, August 18th. In Steamboat Springs, Colorado, coming down the Spring Creek Trail. There's a name for what I was doing at the time, I found out from a friend later. It's called a Chick Chase.

Spring Creek is a six-mile climb up a drainage, and the same trail descending back down. Riding with younger and fitter friends Todd, Jennifer and Jenette, I knew I wouldn't keep up with them on the climb.

When we turned back down to descend, I found myself thinking, "Dangit, I certainly have gravity on my side, there's no reason I can't at least keep up with the women!" Chick Chase.

It turns out there WAS a reason. They're better bike handlers than I am. About a mile into the descent, I went off the single-track, into a ditch, and over the bars. My separated shoulder is healing nicely, with ice, ibuprofen, PT and sympathy.

So the lesson learned: It's good to get better. To challenge yourself just a bit, set the bar a little bit higher, improve whatever you're doing at every opportunity.

Just don't let your pride take over from your common sense. And don't try to keep up with former Pro racers on a hairy descent! Whatever their gender.

Or prepare for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Mostly, the slings.

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