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I'm a consulting geologist for a small company in the Denver area. I study problems related to active tectonics, using geomorphology, structural geology and remote sensing.

Monday, September 11, 2006

high speed sage

i know i've been slacking on keeping this blog updated, but i've been busy having fun and spending time outside instead. below is an excerpt from an email to a friend about my activities over this last weekend.

------ ~t

... I was actually in Salida, CO over the weekend on another mountain biking trip. I (along with a good-size group of folks) rode the "Monarch Crest Trail" which follows part of the continental divide. the ride starts at about 11,300 feet and works its way up to around 12,000. unfortunately the mountains had just received their first dusting of snow so that particular morning it was cloudy (no view) and cold (30 degrees?). as we rode along the ridge crest, more snow and small hail came in and very suddenly there were a few lightning strikes and thunder off our left side. so... we're all totally exposed above treeline, in the snow, and in serious danger of getting struck by lightning... needless to say we all decended the next mile or so as fast as possible to get down into the trees again. It was exciting to say the least, but as soon as we got down to about 10,000 feet again it was sunny and warm, and the light was shining through the aspens as the trail wound down a long valley along a nice stream. By the end of the ride I was pretty tired, but happy to have gone on the ride. That was saturday... yesterday there was another, shorter, ride that was a lot of fun. I almost made it through the entire weekend without incident, but literally less than a mile from the end of the ride I had a very high-speed encounter with a lot of dirt, rocks and sage-brush. I was cruising (~ 20-25 mph) down a smoothly twisting section of trail on the final descent and somehow got my wheel out of sorts with the edge of the trail around a sweeping corner. for a second or so it was touch and go; maybe I could pull out or maybe I would go down, but once I crashed it was very hard and fast... I basically just saw a blur. what actually happened (as far as I can tell) was I went kind of over the bars, kind of off the side and straight into a section of loose dirt and small to mid-size rocks (thank god it was all loose stuff) that had a lot of sage-brush growing around. I rolled a few times but mostly went into everything face and arms first. I couldn't really see anything (eyes closed!) but there was an overwhelming aroma of sage as I tore through something like 15-20 linear feet of brush. I got up and besides a few minor scratches on my cheeks and jaw, a slightly bloody knee and a gently abraded hip I was totally fine. I was so stunned that I couldn't tell immediately if I was OK or if I was bleeding from the ears and missing teeth (I wasn't). The best part was walking 30 feet back up the trail to where I first got into trouble and following the furrow in the dirt and trail of broken sage branches to where I came to a stop.

of course the best part of this whole thing was being able to walk away relatively unscathed. i spent the next twenty minutes or so riding out the wave of endorphin and adrenaline induced euphoria and blabbing ceaselessly about the experience as i picked sagebrush twigs out of my shorts and hair. it was also lucky that it was kind of chilly on the trail so i was wearing a couple layers of clothes including some loose nylon shorts and a long sleeve jersey. believe or not i'm actually improving as a rider... i'm just pushing my riding more; riding faster and harder trails and almost considering the purchase of a full-face helmet at some point in the future.


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