Mountain biking is a dangerous game and accidents do happen. Sometimes these accidents can be quite tragic. Several weeks ago, four Sedona mountain bikers headed to Page for a road trip. As the first ride began, Joshua Smith, an expert mountain biker, was dealt a hand of fate that has landed him in critical care. Through a miscalculation, Josh took a header into slick rock and was knocked unconscious. Fortunately, his friends were near and his breathing was restored almost instantly. Through the use of technology, in this case a cellular phone and a GPS unit, we were able to contact Page Search and Rescue, and Josh was airlifted out within 30 minutes of the accident from the middle of nowhere.
Josh’s blow to the head caused a great deal of trauma in his neck and currently Josh has been in a struggle for recovery. His friends and family have shown tremendous support, and this combined with Josh’s spirit and drive is helping him make huge strides. It’s shocking to see your friend in the hospital, much more so in critical care. It makes the simple things in life so much more important, like breathing on your own. A lesser man might give up, but Josh is not like that. The changes his friends have seen from the first night to the present are so remarkable, that there is little doubt in anyone’s mind that Josh will be back riding his mountain bike before too long.
Josh’s road to recovery has already taken him through some of the biggest battles of his life. He has come through in shining colors and seems to make progress on a daily basis. As Josh recovers, the rest of us mountain bikers have to deal with continuing our sport knowing how easy it is to get hurt. There probably aren’t too many mountain bikers out there who don’t have some injury story or lingering pain. These injuries all seem so insignificant compared to critical care, but just like all of us, I’m sure Josh can’t wait to get back on his mountain bike. Josh, we’re waiting for you, and it just won’t be the same until your back out riding with us again.
Josh’s accident was a freak occurrence, but in mountain biking freak accidents can occur in the parking lot just as easily as on the trail. I find it’s best to start off on rides at an easy pace simply to get the feel for the terrain and to see how in tune you are today. This is especially true if you are on a road trip and have been cooped up in a car for any length of time. It’s normal to be amped in this situation, and it may require self control to be sure you're all warmed up before you get radical on the trail. And then, there are the mountain bikers like Josh, who seem to thrive on those moments of death defying situations. As one noted mountain bike daredevil says, "Cautiously dangerous out on the trail."
Josh, keep up the good work. Our prayers are with you!