Today seemed like any other, a plan to go riding in the mountains. Bags packed for the weekend away, staying with family, spare parts and all the gear for a good ride.
However, there is trepidation in the air. We load up the car and head up into the mountains. We’re off the Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains. We pass the national park entry and pay our fees. As we approach Thredbo, I realise that it’s more than trepidation. It’s fear.
20 odd years ago, it was at Thredbo that I had a significant crash on my mountain bike. I have not taken to the mountains at Thredbo since. The day of the crash was like any other, an excellent day for a ride. It was not too hot with mostly clear weather and smack in the middle of summer in the mountains. I was young, naïve, lacking all fear, and (let’s be honest) not a strong rider riding an average bike. My brother in law came riding with me (Thanks mate), and we made the morning training with staff before going up the chair lift for a few rides. No one was allowed to ride Thredbo (The only run was the Cannonball in those days) without doing the training.
On the second run of the day, around the first few bends, the front of the bike became unstable as I approached a contour bank. The front wheel got stuck, and over the handlebars, I go. Landing headfirst with a mouth full of gravel (Despite a full-face helmet), the bike was destroyed; I blacked out and was lying by the trail. There were plenty of people around, and help was there quickly and was getting medical care. I walked away that day thankful, and it looked like I would be a bit sore, but everything was working.
In retrospect, this was probably the crucial event that would become a long battle (And will be for the rest of my life) with chronic pain and nerve issues that progressively have become worse.
Let’s get back to today
It’s now been five years since major surgery on my spinal cord (and a few other surgeries). I’ve lost 41Kgs, and am not on blood pressure medication. My health is better than ever. However, I’ve been back on the bike, getting fitter and stronger for these last five years. I’ve become a more mature rider and far more competent than ever.
As I stand in queue with my bike, geared up ready to ride, I wonder to myself, should I be doing this? I’ve been excited for weeks now, but here I am about to try again. I get onto the gondola that will take me to the top. Let’s do it (Despite a few shakes). I can’t go back now.
I started the day on a green run, and very quickly, it’s not like any green run that I’ve ridden before, with a few quirky sections that might be on the scale of blue. I stopped a few times on this run to walk corners I did not feel confident on. I needed to trust my training and skills and the gear. It was a moment to focus and trust, and before I knew it, I was at the bottom. Back on the lift I go.
By the end of the day and five lifts/runs, I did not stop on the runs and could ride the entire length. Confidence building and an excellent opportunity to see the skills and training shine brighter than ever over the last five years.
After 20 odd years, I’ve conquered
A few tears of joy, a moment to reflect and enjoy those special moments in life. A day that became more emotional than I expected or thought. I am so excited and proud of myself in this moment.