James Durand

Mind games

I've had some scary moments in mountain biking.

  • Jan. 11, 2018 12:00 a.m.

I’ve had some scary moments in mountain biking.

There are the nerve racking few minutes before a DH race where my heart rate is at it’s maximum.

I remember flying backwards off a berm once into a bunch of trees, so scared I was about to break my back that I’m sure I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best. I landed safely in some soft loam.

I rode off a drop once and landed sideways. I fought to regain control for almost 20 feet in total fear, before sliding out in some gravel. I didn’t even get a scratch.

It’s odd how the scariest situations generally end up okay, and the big injury incidents create almost no fear, they just sneak up on you.

I can list dozens of these types of rides, with most of them turning out fine, but the scariest moment I’ve ever had was earlier this week.

I was riding some steep and technical trails in Laguna Beach. I was aiming for one particular rock roll that was extra steep, and I was excited to tackle it.

As I approached on the tight, loose single track with my butt well behind my saddle, and fighting for control, I saw the drop come into to view … and was surprised to see it had been fenced off since the last time I rode it. No access and no fun to be had here.

I was disappointed I couldn’t ride the rock, but more disappointed that I had to hike up a 25 per cent grade for five minutes to get back to the ride around.

As I was grunting back up the hill, feet sliding in the loose dirt, I noticed dozens of small holes in the ground all around me. Snake holes? I remembered seeing the rattle snake warnings back at the campground.

I was instantly on high alert. Then I heard it. A rattling type sound. My heart has never beaten so hard. I was frantically looking around and trying to remember what the warning told me to do in this situation. I drew a blank, and was ready to ditch my beloved bike and run for my life.

As I stopped to figure out where the snake was, and which direction to run, I realized the rattling sound was actually my rear hub clicking. What an idiot.

I am sure that 20 seconds of unnecessary fear took a few years off my life, but after I finished laughing at myself, I continued on, and just tried to ride faster than a snake’s pace for the rest of the day.

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

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