Biker faces death, scratches in moonlight ride down canyon

By Joshua Dalton

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The moon was full and the sky was clear. That was all we needed to set our sights. There were ten of us, some complete strangers, that came together that night for an evening of risking life and limb to cycle Sabino Canyon.

Things began just fine. Setting out on the almost entirely uphill ride, we were full of energy ... yet out of shape. Many of us soon began to lag and writhe and mourn the pains of our quickly tiring legs. This with approximately three fourths of the ride to the top still remaining.

Soon after the first stages of exhaustion set in, the field began to thin out. I found myself pedaling with all my might behind two experienced friends, who seemed impressed that I was staying as close as I was. That changed fast though, and they ended up finishing almost ten minutes before I did.

Reaching the top at last, I allowed myself to fall over. I was still alive, although it seemed to me that at any moment I could fall apart. My legs felt like columns of cheese that had just been grated and melted back together. Fortunately, I had finished the ride before several others in our party and I was able to rest my tired body before beginning the perilous descent.

And what a descent it was.

Given this was a moonlight ride, light was scarce and reaction time to various bends and turns was minimal, and were made even more so by the speed of the ride. While the thought occurred to me that I was probably riding at about 20 to 25 miles per hour, a choice presented itself: which of the two paths ahead of me is a path of jagged rocks that casts no shadows, and which is the bridge which will allow me to continue my descent safely?

I chose wrong.

When I realized my error, I gripped my brakes as hard as I could, which was my second mistake. I fishtailed, and with much of my life playing in fast forward before my eyes accompanied by a soundtrack of "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" I flew head first over handlebars into the pile of stones.

After becoming aware that was still in one piece, I picked myself up and looked for any injuries and saw only a small cut in my ankle. Oddly enough, this was a disappointment. Who would believe this story of an inexperienced cycler's brush with death with only a small scratch as a reminder? I gathered up what little pride I had left along with my undamaged bike, and continued riding.

"You May Survive" is a regular feature in the alterNation arts section, in which Wildcat reporters take a little risk and brave unusual situations or commit acts that Wildcat readers may or may not want to take part in themselves.

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