Fear & Falling Off
What a gift I received this week; Hans Rey has just released his ever so inspiring and beautiful coffee table book. Yeah, it's pretty and really cool all the places Hans has been in his life. But more than that this book is about a life that dared to choose its own course and a man who was brave enough to go down a path where none had gone and few have followed. Hans Rey built his legacy on one wonderful truth, the courage to try something he loved and stay true to his line when fear said "who knows what fear sounds like in the head of Hans Rey" but I know that whatever it sounds like in youthful 1970's German; it hasn't deterred him from a path that led to a beautiful life experience and one that he has so graciously and genuinely shared in this book. Look it up and give it as the best ever gift to any Mountainbiker or lover of life.
In recent days it has been announced much to our deepest excitement in the Sedona MTB community that one of the most unique trails in our sports collection; "Hangover" in Sedona has been approved, authorized and legalized, kinda like weed in Colorado. This dramatic cliff side Singletrack is not for everyone and not for the faint of heart to say the least; but it is magical if your are smart enough to walk where you should and skilled enough to hold a technical line in a fairly, well lets just say "exposed" situation. To me and to most I share this ride with; it's an unforgetable lifetime MTB experience.
Funny thing about this line is that it is sheltered in trees much of the way, or at least bushes, but beyond them and just a mere feet from your tires is a view that spans about the whole of Oak Creek Canyon. The trail edge drops what seems like a sheer thousand feet or so. Hangover is EPIC and I know that word gets over used; but not here, this trail will call out demons in your soul and challenge your head and your riding no matter whom, I don't know if Hans has ridden it (bet he has) but I would wager that it made an impression, it sure has on me and I am honored and excited and grateful as anything to share it's long term future as a treasure in the world of Singletracks, especially those of us who love riding / living. on, near or Over the EDGE!
Over the Edge Staff and friends have been wintering in Arizona for a decade and a half; it's the roots of OTE Sedona in West Sedon (you can ride Hangover from the shop) and have loved Hangover since we first heard of this ridiculous line across the face of what looks like a sheer cliff face from all viewpoints below. But as you finally approach the line; it is revealed that there is this perfectly placed oasis of plant life on a ledge that crosses the entrée red rock basin some hundreds of feet above Oak Creek and Midgly Bridge below just above the town of Sedona. It was early in our knowledge of Damifino Saddle and Hangover (thanks Joe and Steve and Chewy) on a classic and common January Day when the OTE Crew was riding up here. I remember the feeling when Jason Grove rode up to us after a uncomfortable gap behind me and announced that Bill had fallen off the Hangover. "Holy Shit, Really?" was pretty much the response. Not knowing of that meant we had to search for his remains or his bike or exactly what the consequences of such an act would be. Jason quickly announced that he was fine and started to tell the tale as Bill rode up with barely a scratch to show other than the most accidentaly awesome helmet cam video ever. It's quite a tale, one I should just let you watch for yourself.http://www.mountainbikebill.com/blog/?p=210
It's old and I don't think it's on You Tube, but hopefully you can find it at the above link. That's me right in front of him; I never heard him go off, I guess it shows how little else we notice when such focus is running in our own heads.
Just last fall I had the pleasure of showing the trail to my friend Nic from IMBA Australia. MInd you that the exposure of the Hangover is really mildly technical in comparison to the cow pies trail that gets you up to the Damifino Saddle. That traverse is where there is actually real and present opportunity to find yourself in the "Over the Edge" club. Both of us were having a silky day and cleaned all of this (except that last switchback or the white terrace of course). We traversed Hangover enjoying the epic views and discussing the nature of such a trail and whether or not it could / should be authorized as an official trail and how such a line expands the entire view of what is and can be in trail future. I pointed out where Bill had touched an inside handlebar and took that epic tumble. We rounded the end of the traverse and began to descend where this hoto was taken; the point where we all stood some 6 years ago and learned that Bill had survived the fall and all felt a sense of pride for having actually known someone to "fall off the Hangover".
Nic and I were descending and relishing in this October sunshine and scenery that few ever see from their bike. It's a magical place… It had rained pretty heavily days prior and we were seeing the effects of it on the trail here and there; desert rains tend to be somewhat rare and somewhat torrential, heck, its what scours these amazing landscapes. Several sections are quite continuously focused and require a resolve of "once you enter, you're not stopping mid way or shits gonna get really ugly really fast". It was in one of these fairly fast but significantly technical descents that I saw the trail somewhat deteriorating. I saw a gap where the rock armoring had slid a little downhill and left a sucker hole where you surely wouldn't want to drop a front wheel… no worries, I was fine. I let my front wheel span the gap and looked on toward the next rock, drop and right hander below as we snaked down one of the final cliff bands off the Hangover. What I didn't expect was that as I hit the far side of the rock gap, the pieces that had slid found it a perfect time to continue their slide downhill. Somehow that stopped me cold in my tracks and stood my brand new Knolly Chilcotin up on it's from wheel like I was impersonating Hans himself. Felt like I balanced there for quite some time. I remember feeling a total calm as I hoped for a leftward lean from this perch and I would fall into the cliff face on my left and not down the cliff of unkown consequence to my right…
…no such luck…
I never really saw what was in my future to my right side. I knew it was literally "over the edge" and I knew that was going to subject me to some circumstances that I may not like. I had a quick ponder of what might be interesting about the next few moments and even had a quick thught of; "surely this is not how it ends for me"; no I felt pretty sure this wasn't that moment and I stayed really chilled out as I began to lean the WRONG WAY". I pretty much envision my end as a taser incident with an over energetic hiway patrol man who just pulled me over for going 80 on the interstate or taking a round about without acting like a retired Sedona doctor or possibly the jealous betrothed incident most of you have suspected would end my days… luckily, I was pretty sure, this was not that day.
But since I never really got a look at my new destination and all I could tell periferally was that it was "a ways down there". Well; descision time was kinda over for making corrections; sticking out my hands to break my collerbone (oh sorry, I meant "fall") had been trained out of me back in my road racing days some 30 years back, so I just tucked my head and pretty much dove off the side of the trail head first in some sudo "tuck and roll" type idea. Nic; riding behind me with his own stability inn his focus, recalled "I heard quite a horrific crash, and then I heard giggling"; sounds about right, as I said to Nic, as I still lay taking physical inventory down in my miraculous little saftey zone a couple body lengths below, "you'd giggle too if you just got away with that", and get away I did. I had fallen about a dozen feet vertical and landed in the only dirt patch between my rocks, agave plants that would have punctured my entire being, cactus, dead juniper tree, darn near everything you don't want to hit, I didn't hit! The only thing I did hit was a manzanita bush which graciously decelerated my fall and offered my a mere scratch by which to narrarate the tale and remember it by. I know I did way more damage to that bush than it did to me and I hope we are all cool with that. I know I am forever grateful for the whole experience (and the bush) and will always cherish this tale and the opportunity to experience this amazing moment for myself. I think what Nic said next pretty much summed it up; "wow, you really are 'Over the Edge'"; yeah, maybe a little…
What struck me about the experience was that I never felt afraid; never tensed up and never felt that sense of panic that we so often feel. You might know the feeling of panic and hollow "NOW WHAT"; like when your parents were still up when you snuck in a 3AM or like the one I still can't shake every time I see a cop car behind me or when it starts to rain at Fat Tire Fest or your wedding. I never felt that; I was totally just along for the "ride"? I felt like I was watching an awesome wreck at Monoco and I just happened to have the pleasure of being in it as well. It opened my eyes to a truth that I would have said "I Knew" but maybe never had tested so earnestly; that thought being – if we don't fear it, can it really control us? – I felt like my un-scathed condition was directly a result of my utterly peaceful and relaxed state of falling. I like the thought and I'm going to try to let it permeate my life in more and more ways; recognizing that FEAR is the threat and that the threat is merely the suggestion of the FEAR. Maybe if I could manifest that regularly, the cops would leave my red car alone. No matter what; I have been a student of this truth for much of life and I seriously see deep real truth in this thought; what we don't fear, just passes us right on by and leaves us alone.
Could it be true? I think yes and the experiement is ongoing in my life and the resuts are unconclusive but so far; looking good… I'll keep you posted
"There is nothing to Fear but Fear itself"
So anyway; ponder my suggestion if you dare and look me up and share your findings over drinks sometime. No matter what; enthusiast Singletrack riders, you should go ride this trail, it's amazing and as Bill and I showed, you probably won't fall as far as you think if you are silly enough to wanna find out. I wouldn't suggest it for all who fall often or have a "go for it" style. I can tell you it's just as pretty to walk, maybe just not quite as thrilling but theres no shame in avoiding a repeat of such tales. And besides; the truth of this statement is that if I can't shake the feeling of "I shouldn't try that" I pretty much listen and agree that "I probably shouldn't" but as I have written before and will tell you with all my heart. Once you commit? Stay true to your path, fear not, fret not and never let the rocks steer your course. There is nothing to fear but the fear… and the gravity… and whatever is chosen to stop your fall
Cheers to Hans Rey for sharing his life in this book, for living this way and riding a bike like he does. Thanks for being willing to face the fear and for inspiring the rest of us to believe that maybe the trail leading away from the comfort and safety of "normal" leads to some pretty amazing places, Thanks Hans.
Thanks for reading, come ride in Sedona if your curious and you don't mind intense terrain, exposure and rides that go on for days. That's just Sedona and it's where I'll be next week and most of January.
Come ride with us
Looking back up at Hangover; you wouldnt really want to fall all the way off of this thing, but tets show, you won't (please don't)
Tension is Fear
Anger is fear
Struggle is fear
Manipulation is fear
Second guessing is fear
Self doubt is fear
Violence is fear
hesitation is fear
harsh words are fear
trying to get ahead is fear
fighting against shit is fear
not being good enough is fear
trying to keep up is fear
defensiveness is fear
feeling behind is fear
addiction is fear
Hate is fear
system is fear
Life is so much nicer with the Fear volume turned down