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> Actually I always carry a minimal set of tools such as an emergency
> blanket, a good knife and some water decontamination pills.
That reminds me, Brett has also carried a water filtering kit. Since he
goes on long rides and CA is hot, it makes sense to “make” water instead
of trying to carry enough for a day or more of strenuous riding.
> I’m wondering, among the newsgroup riders, if there was any bad injuries
> during muni rides?
Back to Brett again (his MUni nickname is Bloodman). There is a famous
story from the 1998 National Unicycle Convention in Southern California
where Brett almost fell off a cliff. I wasn’t there, but the story goes
that he went off the side of the trail, over something very steep and
very high. But he landed straddling a tree branch. If that branch
hadn’t been there, it would have been a lot more messy.
Also at NUC '98, a group of us rode down Mt. Wilson, a downhill ride on
fire road of about 4000 feet. Down is generally easy, but the weather
was against us. Unfortunately we were in the middle of a heat wave with
record temperatures. In LA. It was nice and cool when we started, at
the top of the mountain and in the morning, but as the temperature
climbed and we descended into the LA smog, it became basically
dangerous. A young Dan Heaton was with us, and we “made him” carry
carry a drink because he had no water bottle. So he bought a bottle of
green “drink” of some kind, which he carried in his hand as he rode
ahead of us most of the way. Dan didn’t have any problems.
But Beirne Konarski, the guy who built unicycling.org, was not used to the
altitude, the temperature, or the smog. He’s from Ohio. Though he
completed the ride, he collapsed after we got to the bottom and he
couldn’t breathe. He was actually breathing louder than I’ve ever heard
anybody breathe before, but it was heat exhaustion. We were scolded by the
guys from the fire truck and ambulance that responded. They were used to
coming to that spot and dealing with people like us (not counting the
unicycles). Beirne was okay a few hours later, after being loaded with
fluids and allowed to cool down in the hospital. A close call.
- At MUni Weekend last year, Jack Hughes broke his ankle when he
dismounted in a rocky area and stepped in a bad spot. As the host of
that convention, I will mention that Jack was not riding on or near any
of the planned trails. In fact he was with a group doing trials riding
miles away from Northstar where the rest of us were that day. But the
fact is, an injury of this type could happen anyplace that you ride
where there are rocks, or roots, or other things to catch your foot.
Unfortunately the trials group had only just arrived at this nice rocky
location near the Donner Summit. Geoff Faraghan was videotaping Jack
riding on the big rocks. After he dismounted the unicycle and fell down,
he immediately shouted “I think I broke my ankle!” A good diagnosis, as
the next shot on the video is in the hospital emergency room. Jack’s ankle
has recovered, but he’s still at the mercy of gravity as we saw at NUC.
- One time I went riding on the Salmon Falls trail near Folsom. I saw a
helicopter take off from the middle of nowhere out along the trail, and
then I came across a group of firemen who were walking out. What
happened? A guy on a mountain bike had lost control going down a
(small) hill and crashed into a tree. Is he going to be okay? We don’t
know. He hit hard enough to shatter his helmet.
Sure enough, I came to the bottom of that hill, which is probably a 30’
drop, not very steep, but with bumpy roots and rocks on the way down. A
bike going slightly off course could run straight into a big tree at the
bottom, and this one did. There were big pieces of helmet all around the
base of the tree. The fact that the guy was airlifted out speaks to the
severity of his injuries. This was a bike accident, but I threw it in to
remind us all how dangerous those coasting things, that are hard to
Anytime you talk about injuries, you should talk about prevention. Or at
least about lessons learned. People are having accidents every day, or
otherwise making stupid mistakes that the rest of us can learn from, if we
think about it. Some of the lessons are obvious ones, and others may take
a little more thought. Let’s see:
For accident #1 I don’t know what to say. I wasn’t there, but I have
seen Brett lose his unicycle over the side of the trail many times. You
usually can’t ride further from the edge because the trail doesn’t
offer a choice. You could ride slower, maybe. That particular accident
might suggest you should wear a cup? But not for unicycling Last
thing I can think of, when riding along the edge of a big drop, be less
worried about catching the unicycle than catching yourself. Brett is
already good at this.
This is more basic stuff. We all made a mistake that day by doing the
ride in the first place. The temperature was well over 100F before we
were done, and the lower part of that trail has almost no shade.
Fortunately everyone on the ride had at least been to a MUni Weekend
before. But being unaccustomed to the environment, and the heat, and
the altitude, is a lot to cope with. Those of us with more experience
should have paid more attention to our fellow riders to make sure they
weren’t out of water (Beirne’s lasted most of the way, then we shared),
and that they were doing okay. A telltale sign that Beirne was wearing
out was when he forgot his helmet at a rest stop, and one of us went
back up to get it.
This was trials riding, on unfamiliar territory. When riding on rocks
there is a certain amount of potential for accident that you have to
live with. So put on the armor! Active Ankles would have made the
difference in this case. Several MUni experts, including Kris Holm,
wear them when they’re doing extreme riding. It’s like an ankle brace,
a hinged attachment that goes inside your shoe and keeps your foot from
bending to the sides. Also, for any riding of this nature you should at
least be wearing a helmet, wrist guards or gloves, and kneepads. Then
shin and back protection should probably be the next items. Not to
mention a shirt, which a lot of guys were not wearing in the trials
area at NUC.
Wear a helmet! And don’t ride a bike. Those things are dangerous! If
that guy had been on a unicycle, losing control on the same hill, he
would have fallen off the unicycle way before he got to the tree.
> I know it will happen to me - I’ve been lucky so far.
Luck runs out. Make sure you plan ahead!
Stay on top, John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone firstname.lastname@example.org
No matter what happens in life, somebody will find a way to take it
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