Confessions of a Front Brake Masher

And Physics said, “Thou shalt not grab thine front break in a panic whilst descending. Particularly so when thou art descending quickly over a large tree root in the middle of the trail.” Blessed be the Word of Physics.

Indeed. Such blasphemy invokes an epic battle – the struggle of momentum, deceleration, and center-of-gravity. You’re moving fast and as the momentum tries to keep you going forward, a deceleration force will try to swing you in an arch. The pivot point of this not-so-graceful arch is the contact point between the front wheel and the ground (cue the image of my body detaching slowly from my bike while careening skyward and then, suddenly, forest-floorward).

In a moment of utter mindlessness my death grip on the front brake stopped any hope of forward motion of my front tire. The bike, in a single and horrifying millisecond, came to be completely motionless, just before the Forces of Physics took over and sent my center of gravity sailing in the requisite arch over the point of braking (the point at which my tire was touching the ground).

Girls and boys, this is how Endo Happens.

Launched, as I was, so unexpectedly into the air, I found myself shocked at first to be skyward, then concerned that I might actually land on my face, then worried that a facial landing might break my brand-new Oakley sunglasses, then more concerned that a facial-landing might actually cause some damage to my, ahem, face.

I have a lovely nose and would rather like to keep it that way.

My flight also afforded enough time to consider the fact that I knew better than to grab my front brake, that I hadn’t been the least bit concerned about this obstacle, and that I could not fathom, even for a second, how I’d gotten myself into this position.

And then I hit the ground.

Of course, I can’t remember the impact – only the moments just before and just after. I recall becoming aware of my body on the ground and the fact that I had not, in fact, landed on my face but had managed to turn in the air a bit in order to suffer most of the impact on the right side of my body. My shoulder, in particular, took most of it. I noticed right away that it was scraped, along with the rest of my right arm. I sat up and said, “I’m ok!” which was more hopeful than totally confident.

At that moment I noticed that the instructor of the Skills Clinic was running down the trail toward me with a face as white as a ghost. Guilt set in instantaneously – I hate to cause people undue stress. For that reason, here is my formal apology to Mary Staben, who runs an absolutely killer clinic (no pun intended!).

Dear Mary,

I am so sorry for scaring you out of your mind and simultaneously freaking out the five other women in our clinic! Although my endo was fantastic and quite exhilarating, I really did not intend to cause you such distress.

That said, I would rate the weekend a smashing success and feel like we all (especially me!) learned an absolute truckload from you. Thank you for bearing with me.


All endos aside, my mountain-biking weekend was an amazing experience. It was a great introduction to a sport that is gritty, difficult, painful, tricky, poetic, graceful, bloody, fast, peaceful, and strangely serene. Consider this roadie schooled – I have seen the way of the Visor-Set and emerge with a renewed respect and admiration.

That shit is hard.



P.S. Mad thanks to our most gracious hosts, Gregg and Stephanie, who provided fabulous and free accommodations for the weekend so that I might begin my path to humble worship of Our God of Mountain Biking Physics. Thanks also to my boyfriend who has far more confidence in me than I do, and to the women in the clinic who were so incredibly supportive, insightful, and inspiring.


1 Comment

Filed under adventure, bikes, cycling, mountain-biking

One response to “Confessions of a Front Brake Masher

  1. obadiah

    Glad you can laugh . . . and make the rest of us chuckle a bit too!
    But really, isn’t hitting long drives to left field enough excitement for you . . . and screaming around the baseline like you always do.
    A wonderful read . . .even if you are a little crazy!!!!

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