In the saddle: A car wreck |

In the saddle: A car wreck

CARBONDALE ” With no snow on the hills or in the forecast, I busted out my mountain bike one last time (I hope) to join my friend Mooney on the trails of Prince Creek in Carbondale.

It was my first ride there, and I enjoyed the slow, meandering climb through some overgrown Hobbit habitat to a high mesa overlooking the Crystal River Valley.

We followed a meandering shelf to where the trail dropped into a steep gulch. And I had a blast zooming around dirt curves banked like a bobsled track and punctuated with small jumps and whoop-de-doops. A great ride.

But it was when we stopped to catch our breath that Mooney warned me about the next obstacle: The dreaded Monte Carlo, a derelict car-turned-terrain-park feature.

Someone took old pallets to build rough ramps over the vehicle, and it’s apparently the “red badge of macho” to say you’ve ridden it.

I felt up to the challenge.

On the downhill, you approach the car from the back. Mooney rode around it, opting to try the move starting from the hood, but I rode right up the back until my front sprocket bottomed-out on the rear window.

I put my feet down to catch myself, then set up to ride down the front of the car, over the hood to the ground.

The crunching metal set off some kind of childhood BMX-riding adrenaline in me, and for the next 20 minutes, we beat the car into the ground.

But Mooney wasn’t riding it clean, and he was getting frustrated.

“I’m not leaving until I get this,” he said. And he had no interest in my little allegory about the fine balance between pushing the envelope and staying safe.

He rode up the hood, hit the roof, and, when he started to keel over, made a flying leap from the top of the car, landing in the scrub oak.

His left ankle swelled immediately, and, by the time we rolled into the parking lot at the bottom, it looked like a grapefruit.

My first aid was limited to a half-hearted “You OK, dude,” and we were lucky enough to run into two local doctors who gave us a quick diagnosis.

“It’s probably not broken, but it’s a bad sprain,” the doc said.

Mooney’s healing well, but the incident reminded me to take it easy ” even walk on eggshells ” until I get those first days on the slopes.

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