Life is why

Someone said a bad day of riding is better than a good day at home. Well, yesterday was one of the worst riding days ever. The plan was to meet at my friend Justin’s house at 10 a.m. “Try to leave by 10:15. Ride until sunset or until we are tired, go into Wendover for dinner, then head back to Salt Lake,” Justin wrote.

I checked the weather when I woke up – it was slated to be a perfect day – near 60 degrees and sunny with no snow in sight. I mixed some fuel and loaded up, got my bike in their truck and Justin, his dad and I headed out to Knolls. Pulling in, we noticed a lot of trucks and campers and Justin said he was “almost sad” that winter was over.

I mocked him, “No way.”

“Riding Little Sahara alone was fun,” he said, and I understood. 

Looking down on the parking area at Knolls

After we parked, we geared up quickly before taking off down a long whooped-out sand trail heading south. I was riding behind Justin and in front of his dad, sandwiched in the middle, just like I like.

Snaking our way through the whoops, trying to find the smoothest line, the next thing I saw was Justin’s rear tire swapping right to left. For a second, it looked like he was going to save it but then the bike high-sided hard and crashed in a cloud of dust. I came upon him and his eyes were open but he wasn’t moving. Justin’s dad pulled up and dropped his bike. Something was terribly wrong. Justin was in a lot of pain and said he didn’t have any feeling below his chest.

Half an hour later, the University of Utah’s AirMed helicopter arrived to take Justin to the hospital. I stood in shock while the nurses and paramedics tended to him. I wondered why was this happening to us; we had barely broken a sweat. I prayed for him, for his dad and for me. By now, a group of people gathered around and offered to help get Justin’s bike and gear back to the truck. I kept thinking back to the last time I saw a helicopter landing at the track – after a friend crashed and broke his neck. I felt the same devastation that I did then, shaking to tears until a mutual friend came over to comfort me. “He’s alive,” I remembered him saying. “We can get through anything now.”

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Once the helicopter took off, I met Justin’s dad at the truck and we loaded up in disbelief of what just happened. We fought back alligator tears driving back to Salt Lake in mostly silence until his dad said: “I’d like to think that getting hurt, situations like these, freak accidents, puts things into perspective but they really don’t. Motorcycles are dangerous but so are automobiles.”

“And bicycles,” I said.

“My best friend in college died riding a bicycle,” he said.

We talked about how every time something tragic happens, everyone always says it’s time to throw the dirt bikes away but life is about adventure. So maybe stuff like this happens in order for you to act on some of the decisions you’ve been putting off. Because you never know.

You might as well do what you want.

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Ride or die

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