Trail Angels

The number one question I have been asked about dislocating my shoulder on the trail: "Were you by yourself?"

Or: "You weren't by yourself, were you?"

The answer is yes and no. Yes, I was riding alone. I often do. I often will. I carry a charged cell phone. At least one person who knows trails always knows where I am.

But it's rare to be truly alone on the trail. People always happen by. And mountain bikers help each other.

ZL and Ashley, for instance. They both rode on when I told them to (giving me credit for knowing my limits and capabilities), but not before ZL, who knew the terrain, told me how to shortcut out to my car, and not without Ashley fixing my chain, waiting with me while I sat and rested, and attempting to escort me out through the field.

Then there were Brian and Connor, father and son, who near the finish of their ride took me in hand. I had just made what would have been the bad decision to try going out through the singletrack. Brian took my bike away from me. Connor took my Camelbak.

They walked me to their truck, and Brian said that if I didn't have a ride, he would take me to urgent care. He put my bike on my car's rack for me. Brian and Connor had met me, but didn't know me. But this is what mountain bikers will do for each other.

I owe the community.

When we got to my car, it was clear I couldn't drive anywhere. I was cradling my arm and doubled over with the pain. Just then ZL popped off the trail, followed closely by the Major Mud Bunny and her husband Rob.

"It's bad. I'm headed to Urgent Care," I said. And taking care of me became their priority. ZL called Urgent Care to make sure they were open. Rob, henceforth known as Rob, The Pain Whisperer, took my bike into his safekeeping and drove me calmly in my car, listening to me cuss and moan and hysterically laugh at how much it hurt. The Major followed in her car. The three of them took me to Urgent Care, and when Urgent Care couldn't help me, to the ER.

ZL talked to N. on the phone when I couldn't manage it. Later, he'd help N. get our car home. They all waited until N. got to the hospital. Then we told them to go drink beer.

And then we waited.