No fear? Take your chances? Why not?

This Saturday, instead of the usual riding endeavors, I headed out to L.I. to visit a friend in the hospital who had been in a very serious car wreck back in July. You can see from the photo above he had a nice, burly customized rig. He has no recollection of what happened, but it appears that he fell asleep at the wheel on his way to work, lost control, and did a combination of rolling and end over end flipping resulting in the carnage you see pictured below. What I would expect to be a life ending accident for most, my big buddy managed to survive. He is in the process of rehabilitating from three fractured cervical vertebrae which have been fused, and what was initially diagnosed as quadriplegia. He is doing well, and is recovering at an impressive rate.

Having broken my own neck twice, but fortunately never this severely, this brings to the front of my mind the risks that we take, and the chances of those risks taking us out.
In 1990, while racing late at night, a missed turn at 100+mph and I woke up at the hospital stitcched up and braced. The car crushed into itself badly and folded my head over my back, cracking vertebrae, crushing discs, and tearing my neck muscles (I can show you, you may cringe...).
Again in 2006, while helmet-less 'just going for a spin' on my hardtail, I decided to hit a favorite line at speed through Ft. Tryon park, and did a lil' step down into a tranny filled with a lovely ~20" diameter log, which I cased to a front flip and then skidded across the dirt and asphalt mostly on my forehead, finishing off with a neck powered vault, re-breaking the same vertebrae I had done in back in 1990.
This might seem to many a good indicator to take it easy or give it up, but on the contrary, it made me realize that chance plays such a prominent role in the things we do and pushed me to take MORE risks. Whether launching our bikes over enormous jumps, riding them off of cliffs, or just standing around on the sidewalk, things beyond our control can make those seemingly different situations equally dangerous. You can do the sketchiest downhill run without issue, or stomp some DJ's with authority and come out fine, then head home and slip in the tub and shatter your elbow. Stories abound, and I don't doubt that most people can recall one or more that have happened to, or around, them.
How does this matter to you and me? It does, or doesn't, make us think about what we do and can change our approach. Are you scared to try something new? Hit a jump? Ride a skinny? Try a Double Diamond trail? I am using biking as an example, but the factors apply in any scenario.
Despite my severe, and repeated, injury, I continue to ride at a pretty advanced level and take risks. However I *DO* over-think many of my challenges and often take quite some time and encouragement to build up to them. Why is that? Surprisingly, breaking my neck didn't slow me down, but rather helped push me in that knowing I could be taken out at any moment drove me to seize the day. Now on the other hand, I had a different kind of accident in 2004 that DID put the demon of second guessing and over-consideration in my mind: Traumatic herniation of L1/S2 disc kept me off snowboards and bikes, and I was unable to sit down for ~5 months of hell. Getting on a bike at all was an exercise in abject fear of re-injury. Snowboarding has been all but shelved. Death? OK! Pain? not so much.
So I ask you, how are you affected by fear? Why do you hold yourself back? Or, for those fearless cats amongst us, why DON'T you hold yourself back? I tend towards visualizing failure and wrong outcomes in some circumstances and absolutely need to be coaxed/coached through many of my obstacles (and over, and off them!).

How about you?


Anonymous said...

Holy shit!!

Curtis Chorizali said...

i've broken my ankle and fibula hopping around at skateparks on my bike, but completely tearing my ACL was what got me the most shook. the worst part of it is that at the time i was actually progressing in my riding, had simple and innocent 180s on lock on flat and flyouts. and then a simple harmless overrotated 180 folded my knee to the side and 9 months of recovery that followed made me rethink things. no way did i quit, but i definitely think about things 5 times before going for them. the whole idea and mess of limping around for months, dealing with insurance and PT and all that slows me down a bit. but i'm still at it, still launching myself off shit, starting to relearn 180s after a year or two of being scared to think about trying them. i'm ranting.


Tony Banana Hands Robbins said...

For fearless successful living, i recommend the following:


Anonymous said...

I take my chances every year when I attend the Gathering of the Juggalos.

Gatito Terristo said...

When I'm insured, I tend to take more risks in my riding.. now that im about to be un-insured for a couple months, it will always be in the back of my head - the cost of a potential injury. Back when i was breaking bones on a yearly schedule, the cost of medical expenses were really surprising to me...$3000 for a broken collar bone, $6000 for a broken wrist. the pain and disablement is one thing, but the financial loss hurts the most. good thing I was insured during those years.

Modnar Banzai said...

Ah insurance! I often say the scariest part of a potential injury is the bill!!