Roger Alan Wade said it best, "If you’re going to be dumb, you have to be tough.” A phrase I have heard from my Dad, Football and Lacrosse coaches, and a number of other people in my life. I have always been a rough and tumble kid, some call it ‘little man syndrome’, and some just call me crazy. For the first time in a long time I scared myself by being way dumber than I am tough.
I am pretty good at finding ways to wiggle my way onto ski mountains, mountain bike trails, fishing creeks, and hiking trails when I am out traveling the NASCAR circuit. When we race the ‘West Coast Swing’ portion of the schedule we stay out in California between the Phoenix and California Race. My company is generous enough to give us Tuesday and Wednesday off, and myself and some of the guys have made it a tradition to go rent a cheap cabin at Big Bear Mountain and get some spring skiing in.
Coming off of an epic 3 day Utah trip my confidence in my snowboarding ability was high, maybe a little too high. In the group of 6 skiers and snowboarder we had all skill levels. We spent the first 3 runs getting our legs back under us before we moved to the bigger side of the mountain. Admittedly I was feeling a bit restless, which is where my problems started.
I spotted a big table top while riding the lift and decided I was going send it. There was a line of guys waiting to hit the table top when I got to the run-in. I watched one after another check their speed and come up short. As I dropped in I thought "speed check pfffft" and prepared for a simple mute grab. Once I was in the air I realized I was off axis and missed my grab. Aborting the grab I looked to spot my landing and thought " I should have speed checked". I had overshot the landing….by a long long way. I was now in preservation mode.
All I could think of in the air was “I am going to break my tailbone.” Somehow I must have lifted my hips enough to come down back first. Every bit of breathe I had was gone. I stood up quick and snowboarded out of the way. I knocked the wind out of myself so badly I couldn't even make that terrible guttural sound. My friend Ty had watched the whole thing and skied down to check on me. I sat and tried to regain my breath. When I had enough breath back I bombed down to the bottom of the hill, unstrapped my board, and laid flat on my back on a picnic table.
By now I should have had my breath back, something else was wrong. I sat up and instantly broke out in a terrible cold sweat. My arms went numb and I got queasy, no bueno. I had my friend Dustin escort me to the Big Bear Mountain medical facility, while I tried to hold back my breakfast. They immediately put me on oxygen and started a 144 point inspection. My body was in shock after the adrenaline wore off. The medical staff poked, prodded, and squeezed me 100 ways. Luckily no sharp pains. They fed me a bunch of water and made sure there was no blood in my urine. Luckily I got a clean bill of health, other than being an idiot, and walked out under my own power.
I may still feel like I am 18, but evidently my body really is 29. I was mad at myself for cutting my own day short, yet thankful nothing was broken. The plane ride back to NC would have been painful with a broken back. I earned myself a couple nicknames with the guys, and gave them something to heckle me about for the remainder of the trip. Next year when we go back I'm still going to send, but this time I will check my speed.