Sports

It Could Be Worse

I rode last night with our youth group and as you can imagine, a bunch of 9-13 year old little rippers are not holding the same pace as the hard core adult riders.

It is awesome to watch their enthusiasm and drive to have fun, but when it’s raining and cold it hits me hard.

After the ride last night and a bit of a download session afterwards in the parking lot, I raced down the hill to my house and realized I couldn’t feel most of my fingers.

Considering it is now May, I can’t help but get frustrated with the weather, but hey, it could be worse … In fact it has been worse.

A couple of years ago I went to Whistler in late June. Prime summer riding in the best bike park in the world. How could it go wrong?

Despite it being a drizzly day in the lower park, the temps weren’t too bad and we had some great riding. Then we decided to go to “The Top of the World” trail and experience some of the most sustained DH riding around.

As we loaded onto the last chair to the Peak, the lifty gave us a funny look and said something in a deep Aussie accent that I couldn’t make out, but it didn’t seem positive.

My buddy Greg and I were wearing light jackets, shorts and summer gloves. As we approached the last few feet before the unloading station, the drizzle turned into big fluffy snowflakes and the girls unloading our bikes asked, again in an Aussie accent, “What are you guys thinking?”

We couldn’t download and we were already pretty wet, so we headed down as fast as we could.

I have done some pretty stupid things on my bike before, but this had me genuinely scared. It was so cold that If one of us even had a mechanical there was a good chance of hypothermia setting in. A crash could leave us both stranded only to be found hours later, frozen-to-death and spooning each other.

So we decided to ride fast, but keep it safe, as we descended back to something resembling warm weather.

Greg informed me that he couldn’t feel anything from his wrists down just as I was wondering why my front brake wasn’t working. I squeezed as hard as I could, but no stopping power. When I looked down at my hand I noticed I wasn’t touching the brake lever and was just squeezing the life out of my grip. I had zero feeling in my hands.

I adjusted my fingers so I could operate my brakes again and we rode without incident. As we approached the lower elevations the feeling started to come back. We b-lined it to the coffee shop for a quick warm up and then enjoyed a few more laps in the lower park before we called it a day.

Greg is young and was back to normal as soon as we warmed up, but I lost feeling in the tips of my pinkies for three weeks.

Who would think you could get frostbite in June on the West Coast?

So last night, two hours after the ride when I noticed how numb my fingers still felt, I was thinking that maybe it’s time to start dressing for the weather, rather than the month.

I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’…

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