First Crash

mountain biking Telluride

By Jolie Tanner

Fresh out of the flatlands, I set my sights on the bike park. Free-range summers in Telluride have been one of the most valued and anticipated parts of my year ever since I can remember. As I’m sure many locals and seasonal visitors are aware, Telluride is like no other in regard to its energy, 14,000-foot surroundings, and so much more.

One of the stark differences between here and my home base of central Florida is the ability to barrel down steep, rocky terrain on two wheels at speeds ill-advised by most. Believe me, this is a welcome change. I have dipped my toe into the world of Florida “mountain” biking, and while I was faced with some surprisingly technical blue trails, it pales in comparison to what is offered here. Florida simply cannot compete with Telluride’s community, views, and accompanying weather.

So, with the help of my bike-savvy dad, I dig out my mountain bike, disrupting its long winter’s rest. Following a rather rusty ride down to the Mountain Village core, I proceed to take a terribly flattering, helmet-on photo for my bike park pass and sign a waiver acknowledging my potential losses.

I then manage to get my bike seamlessly on the lift, after becoming somewhat unaccustomed to the motion during my time away, which was perhaps where my overconfidence began. My dad and I hop off the lift and settle on a Tommy Knocker warm-up run. All goes well and to my surprise, it seems that the run’s one more daunting berm has even been slightly smoothed since my last encounter.

With a smooth first run under my belt, I make my way back up the lift for another turn on Tommy Knocker. Now, I don’t know if it’s due to my careless comfortability or the more highly skilled 12-year-olds speeding down the mountain in front of me, but I set off at a much faster pace this time. Consequentially, I make it a little over halfway down the run before my front tire kindly strays off the path, causing me to fall in an overzealous attempt to re-steady myself.

I hit my helmeted head, see some stars, and find myself sprawled just off the side of the trail. In a failed attempt to alert him of my state, I call out “Dad!” before discovering that I’m unable to properly pronounce the word without a lisp; something out of the usual for me. While this could mean a slight concussion, I use my lack of medical knowledge to rule the reason as shock and a lack of breath. Making sure no one was behind me, I slowly drag myself up and forward to find my dad, assessing my damages along the way.

I find a scraped-up left side, sore neck, and questionable minor concussion, which I count as ridiculously lucky compared to what might have been. When people overestimate their skills, the mountain often takes the opportunity to remind them to not underestimate it.

So, after a dazed lunch, I hop back on my bike and finish the day with two blue runs to regain my confidence and ensure my return to the saddle. I am left with a few more scars to add to my Telluride collection, a “Nice shoulder!,” and a reminder that in this town—the mountains bite back.