Cheating Death in Oregon

June 30th, 2007

Fresh off Veronica’s crash while riding her mountain bike, we had 5 days lined up for some spectacular difficult single track riding in Oregon. The North Umpqua River trail is a wonderful trail that we’ve ridden parts of in the last couple of years. We planned to stay at Steamboat Inn for a couple of nights and then shift to camping. We fixed the problem on Veronica’s bike that contributed to her crash and figured we would start with an easier section of the trail. None of the trails are completely easy. Any given trail segment varies from easy, smooth, narrow and safe, to steep, rocky, narrow and dangerous. There are sections where the trail is less than 18 inches wide, with a steep – often vertical – drop to one side. The plan was to ride the easy parts and walk the tricky parts for at least the first day. What was that line John Lennon has about plans?

We started off with the Mott section of the trail. This is a 4 mile stretch that we’ve ridden a couple of times over the years, so we knew it would be generally tame, if narrow. About 2 miles into the ride, we came upon a section that was slightly steep, off camber and loose, with a very steep drop on the left. To cap it off, it ended in a small rocky shelf. Thom, in the lead, got to the shelf, and got off the bike. He turned around and yelled back up the hill that it was a little tricky and Veronica would probably want to walk it. Now, we have to point out that in years past, we’ve ridden this section and probably would have blasted through this 100 foot section without a second thought. But, because of Veronica’s recent endo, we wanted to make sure that she was “in her mountain bike place” before we took any risks.

  • Thom stands near where Veronica ended up (lower right).

Veronica came to a stop near the top and stepped off the bike. As she put her left foot down, the ground gave way and she tumbled off the cliff – leaving the bike on the trail. We figure she slid a couple of feet to the lip and dropped a good 15 feet onto ferns and moss. She was able to grab a sapling that kept her from falling another 6 feet into some large rocks. The underbrush was so thick that Thom lost sight of her, but she immediately called out that she was OK. She lost one of the lenses to her sunglasses, so she briefly thought she had a problem with her vision. Once she took off her glasses, she realized that she was, mostly, fine. She had lots of scrapes, but felt no other injuries. She climbed over to the trail and we determined that she really had no serious injuries. Her helmet had a couple of dents and she had a lot of bruises, but overall she was astonishingly unhurt.

  • Those dents mean it is time for a new helmet.
We walked some of the 2 miles to the trail-head, and Veronica rode about half of that distance.

Veronica spent the next couple of days taking a lot of Motrin. It was a good thing that we bought two helmets because the one she was wearing had some good sized dents. The bike was fine. The next day, we walked back to the scene, so that we could take photos. Two days after the tumble, Veronica was well enough to do a road ride around Crater Lake, and on the third day we did an 8 mile mountain bike ride (on a different segment of the trail).

  • Looking up the trail to where she fell.
  • Veronica stands near the spot where she tumbled off the cliff.
  • Veronica stands near where she tumbled off the edge.
  • Thom stands near where Veronica ended up (lower right).
  • Those dents mean it is time for a new helmet.
The photo on the left shows Veronica standing (about) where she fell off the trail.

The photo on the right shows Thom standing where she ended up.

More photos are in the gallery.

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