Eli crashed hard. I assume. I didn’t see it, he speeded ahead when the terrain got dicey. Or really, I slowed down and he didn’t. I rounded a bend and saw him flat on his back in the middle of the path, his bike in the brush. I could tell he was OK. His head was up, looking around.
I pulled up next to him. “How bad is it?”
“Stupid, I was being stupid.”
Sophie rode up a minute later. I still poked and prodded Eli. As a mountain bike coach, I took a first aid course last winter. I was astounded at how badly I assessed my training partner. My brain froze up, I couldn’t remember what to ask. I found it easier there on the mountain, my son wracked with pain.
Sophie went down the hill to get help.
Eli landed on his hip, and then apparently bounced and skidded to a stop. He scuffed both hips, his belly, his elbows and his face. His bike shorts tore. He must have rolled onto his back after the crash. Nothing back there was scraped or bleeding.
Other riders pulled up, checked in. “You guys need help?”
We planned the ride at Mount Abram bike park as our first activity on vacation. It’s a small resort. Six runs, two green, three blue, one black. Oh, and one more trail, uphill traffic only. The downhill trails, accessed by a chair lift, feature huge banked turns and various jumps, small to large. The smooth, groomed trails, are the complete opposite of Pennsylvania riding. At home, it’s all jagged rocks jutting out of the ground at odd angles. We need to pick our way slowly through the trails. I rarely hit the speeds we traveled at Mount Abram.
When the EMT showed up, he repeated my head-to-toe examination of Eli. Good for me to watch, I missed most of the steps. He strapped Eli to a backboard and took him down the hill on an ATV. Eli couldn’t bend his leg or sit up at all. Getting him in our truck seemed unlikely. We opted for an ambulance.
The stretch of trail where Eli crashed is the one section of the park I didn’t like. It seemed incomplete, as though they haven’t finished building the trail. It abruptly switched from the smooth, groomed surface to a rocky, sandy path. My first time through, I caught air on a large table-top jump and came down the back side into a rough, steep gravel patch. Completely out of control, I frantically tried to slow down, skidding out every time I touched my brakes. The next hundred yards was more of the same. Inviting jumps with a terrible landing surface.
On our next run, when I got to the table-top jump, I slowed way down and called the run complete. Eli barreled ahead trying to nail the string of straight jumps down the rest of the hill. One of those jumps did him in.
Eli sustained an avulsion fracture. His muscle pulled away from his pelvis taking a chunk of bone with it. It will heal without surgery after six to eight weeks on crutches. No bicycling, no hiking, no walking. Essentially what we planned to do on this vacation.
After a tense, boring day yesterday at Stephens Memorial Hospital, we took a slow start this morning. We ate breakfast at a bakery, went to an awesome meteorite exhibit at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, and ate amazing Lao food (food from Laos) for dinner. In the late afternoon, Susan, Sophie and I went on a beautiful and challenging hike while Eli rested up from too much time on his feet. We even dropped by Mount Abram for their Saturday night beer garden concert.
We plan to adapt. Our vacation will be different but, I think, still great. We all feel horrible for Eli. He’s in pain and the rest of his summer—his job and his mountain biking season—will be seriously disrupted. But his spirits are high and we’ve all remained rather upbeat. Tomorrow, we move on to Bar Harbor on the Atlantic coast. We hadn’t planned to hang out on the beach this week, but that just might be a relaxing activity we can all enjoy.