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Bike Rides 105
Tailbone vs. Mammoth Rock
Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time
working in Chaska, Minnesota. It’s a cute little suburban
community positioned just south of the metro far enough to escape
some of the choking traffic and noisy fly-overs.
It’s here that I’ve had the fortunate
opportunity to re-romance my mountain biking skills this summer,
hooking up with a precious single track neatly nestled in the
woods just south of the city.
The “Mammoth Trail” as it’s
named isn’t well publicized and there may be a reason for
that. After researching some of the chatter on the web I’m
deducing some locals responsible for conceiving and nurturing
the woolly beauty don’t really welcome a lot of outsiders
on their track. In fact, I’m probably risking banishment
for bragging up this cherry chunk of mountain biker’s cheese
cake in a column. Can’t say I blame them for getting possessive
either, Mammoth’s a real looker.
I discovered the voluptuous mamster myself while
exploring the paved city trails north of town, stumbling on her
by chance when I left the pavement for a seemingly innocent unmarked
dirt trail. That little deviation turned out to be just the beginning
of a sophisticated network of trails laid out over several miles
of thick woods surrounding the petite but pretty Lake McKnight.
Recently my neighbor Hank joined me there to
detonate an atomic, off-road adrenalin bomb while there was still
time this year. With September’s dry conditions the ground
was as hard-packed and fast running as I’d ever seen it
and we took full advantage of Mother Nature’s rare cooperation.
Of course I was busy trying to show off my mastery
of the trail to Hank by barking out warnings at every rough spot
like a backseat driver on crack. I should have just kept my mouth
shut and let the experience happen organically because as it turns
out I was the one who made a critical misjudgment when it mattered
As we approached one of the many deep rollercoaster
ride-like ravine dips in the trail I called an audible yelling
“It’s doable!” and it was really anything but.
I entered the gigantic crevice first, gravity
sucking me in speedily like a marble dropped into a mixing bowl.
Everything looked good when I started ascending the other side
with a sudden burst of speed but my momentum faded quickly about
three quarters of the way up and I found the exit to be much steeper
than the entry. Still thinking I might somehow make it out I began
peddling frantically but was in too low of a gear and my pedals
spun freely but uselessly like a pinwheel in a windstorm.
A yard from the top my shiny black Raleigh slowed
quickly to a stop and we were momentarily suspended in time like
a bungee jumper at the apex of the bounce. With the flickering
sun blinding me like a strobe light through the leaves, I finally
squeezed the brakes in a vain attempt to stop from rolling down
backwards. The front tire abruptly came up and my bike began tipping
backwards, coming down on top of me. I planted my right foot behind
and fell backwards onto a pile of oversized, unforgiving rocks
to the right. At the same time I flung my bike over my body and
catapulted it down the hill behind me and just missed decapitating
Hank who was now approaching me quickly just to the left.
The Raleigh and I took a heck of a beating. As
it turns out the human tail bone is no match for a prehistoric
boulder. But, I’m lucky to be gifted with a firm layer of
pelvic padding in just the right places and I escaped serious
injury once again, as did my bike.
Hank went to school on my error and planted both
of his feet, stabilizing a lot sooner than I did; recognizing
that the upside of this horseshoe wasn’t even close to being
Following the big crash, we carefully made our way back to the
car with me standing on the pedals favoring my wounds and with
Hank snickering sarcastically all the while.
By the way, Hank has officially proven that it
is actually possible to fit a mountain bike inside a hotel shower.
Find Bike Rides on Facebook and see the photos along with shots
from the crash site and some other interesting pictures taken
of our memorable trip to Mammoth.
Have you heard? Bike Rides is now on the radio!
That’s right, tune in to 91.3 FM Friday afternoons at 1:00
to catch all the zaniness of Bike Rides, on the radio.
Traffic Tip: Plan a fall bike
ride and enjoy the colors at nature’s most perfect pace.
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