Sunday, August 5, 2012

Trail magic and injury

Yesterday I took the train to the beautiful village of Vizille, just outside of Grenoble. Unlike the many of my language peers, who were there for the whole day to sightsee, my main goal was to bike back to the Grenoble - through the mountains. What follows is the story of how I failed miserably at this, and also sprained my wrist.

The day started with a little sightseeing at Vizille Château.
Kevin and Sav are ready to start a revolution on the balcony of the Château.
The gardens were stunning.
Square of hedge filled with either flowers or crushed, colored glass. I've never seen colored glass in a garden before, I thought is was pretty cool!

Sleeping beauty is probably somewhere in there...
Leona with the Château in the background
I unfortunately didn't have time to check out the museum; I decided to head out of Vizille around noon to have plenty of time for my ride. Thankfully, the climb up to Montjean started in the shade. It was still boiling hot, and although the going was technically easy, the grade was sufficient to force me to take frequent breaks.

A road through the forest in France
As it grew steeper and steeper and the going got slower and slower, I thought about turning back. The sweat rolled off me and I drank endless amounts of water. It seemed unlikely that I would be able to complete my ride as planned, although the map showed that these first kilometers up to Mont Sec where likely to be the most grueling.

Along the road, I met a trough of cold water. Whoever decided to put that water in the middle of the hiking route was a genius; I was so refreshed I decided to keep going. I wanted to spend the day biking - so I would.

Awesome water spring trough.

Wet hair - I'm lovin' it!
I kept going and finally met the farm of Montjean. It looked like someone lives there, because there were farm animals near the house and the fields looked tended too. It seemed like a really interesting place to live anyway...
Cute donkey at Montjean

The view from just below Montjean - imaging waking up to this every morning!
From Montjean the dirt road turned into a trail, and the going got steeper. The bike ride turned into an exhausting hike-a-bike ride. At this point I was wishing a examined the map a little closer and thought a bit more before I set out. Idiot.
The trail between Montjean and Mont Sec
I finally reached Mont Sec, were the trail mercifully flattened out. I pedaled out of the trees and into the broiling sunlight.
Mont Sec. Apparently Sec is a dialect form of 'Seche' which means this top is called - you guessed it - Dry Mountain.
The view from Mont Sec. There are really mountains as far as the eye can see here!
Although I had thought about biking down from Mont Sec, I decided to continue a bit further to see how it went. I just hate to give up easily. The water in my reservoir was getting warm, and I suspected I was close to emptying it. The signs pointed to some sort of 'source', or spring, in a kilometer. Hoping for another trough to dunk my head in, I picked that as my next go.

The trail continued upward from Mont Sec, not as steeply, but there were more rocks and so the biking was technically more difficult. And equally exhausting.
Casper is totally loving life.
I was getting pretty closed to breaking point. I was so hot, tired, fed up with my stupid idea to bike up this gigantic hill. And the water never turned up!

Suddenly, a teenager on a Commencal downhill bike came flying by me. "Downhill," I thought, "That is seriously the only direction this trail should be biked." Then two more bikers came into sight - an man and a younger boy. I said 'Bonjour', and asked if they knew if there was any water up the trail. They didn't, but we got to talking and it turned out they were on their way down Vizille.

Screw this.

"Can I follow you?"

François, Timon and Provence were my trail magic yesterday. They helped me find more water from some farmers at Mont Sec, and showed me a great downhill route towards Vizille. And I got to practice my bad French on them!

Although I was pretty tired, the downhill was great fun. I had really earned those meters in sweat, blood and tears. I put my camera in my backpack for the descent, and so didn't really take any pictures (sorry, folks, but come to France and I'll bike the trail again with you!)

The trails here is very different. It's very dry, and there were a lot of loose rocks covered in the leaves. The effect of this is that you can't see the rocks, but you feel them move around under you, and it's hard to compensate for them. This, combined with my slightly dazed stated and the steepness of the trail, caused me to fly over my handlebars not once, but twice. The first time was the most traumatic; I flew a couple of meters and one of pedals didn't click out properly so I was stuck to my bike at a weird angle. The second time I didn't fly quite so far, but I got a good mouthful of dirt, bruised my forward, and landed hard on my outstretched left arm.

And so the disc-burning descent continued, 1200 meters down to Péage de Vizille. We biked back to Vizille, and I snapped a photo of my companions.
Provence, Timon and François: Thanks for all the help! The forested top in the background is the one I climbed. 
When we discovered that the next train back to Grenoble wasn't for two hours, François offered to help get me home. We biked a few kilometers on fairly flat dirt roads to the nearby village of Uriage, and were François had left his car earlier in the day, and then he drove me the last couple of kilometers. I can't express how awesome this was - I was tired, dusty and the offended left hand was growing more and more tender. I also feel really good for having practiced my French so much!

Unfortunately, my left wrist, which seemed OK at first, kept getting more and more painful. Finally, this morning, I decided to brave my way to the emergency room to make sure it wasn't broken. After two hours, a lot of waiting and stumbling to answer questions in French, the verdict of the X-ray arrived:

Left wrist: sprained
Here's a picture of my wrist; it's not broken!

My wrist. It's awesome.

They gave me a prescription for some painkillers, anti-inflammatory meds and a wrist brace. Also they gave me codeine, so I took a good two hours nap before I went and filled my prescription.

Good-looking wrist brace on the streets of Grenoble.


I feel I've learned a couple things this weekend (besides the words for various bike parts in French):

A) Think twice about taking on an 1000+ vertical meter climb in 30 degrees and sun.
B) When biking downhill, always keep you weight over the back wheel. (Actually I knew this, but since I went over my handlebars, that's totally not what I was doing).

Good times! I think I have to take a week or two off biking, but there will be more adventures.

- The Wild Bazilchuk

1 comment:

  1. Nice wrist x-ray! I hope you have many more adventures, but that there are no more injuries involved. Two endos is enough!

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