Yesterday afternoon, he finally decided to limp out to his car and clean out the all the crap he took with him to Temecula. That's when he came across his bike helmet. He still hadn't figured out exactly how he landed after his plunge off the mountain, but the helmet could give him a clue, couldn't it? After all, he had seen "CSI."
Actually, it didn't take much investigation. The front left side of the helmet had a huge dent. If not for the helmet, the Kahuna would be dead.
It was kind of sobering for the Kahuna to hold that helmet in his hand, knowing that it saved his life. It almost brought back ugly memories about how hard he hit the rock, the explosion of sound, the stars.
The Kahuna will be getting a new helmet, but he'll keep the old one as a souvenir to remind him how lucky he was.
The Tri-Geek Kahuna wasn't very good at going up the steep Temecula hills on his mountain bike -- in fact, he had to jump off and push his bike up many of them during his scouting ride of the 15k loop that he would circle twice at the next day's Xterra race.
But now, he reached the ridgeline high above Vail Lake and it was time to bomb down the hill.
It was only his fourth time on a mountain bike, and he still couldn't get over the roller coaster-like thrill of zooming down the single tracks. Late in the afternoon, the Kahuna was the last rider on the course. Somehow, that made it all the more thrilling.
Up ahead, nothing seemed unusual. The Kahuna couldn't see the sharp left-hand turn in the trail. He kept going at full-speed until it was too late.
He didn't have time to even hit his brakes or attempt a turn. He flew straight off the trail, off a boulder and through the air. Just like that, he was living a nightmare. Everything went into slow motion. Below him, a bed of rocks and boulders. There would be no soft landing. He closed his eyes.
The day started well. The Kahuna had driven out to Temecula a few hours earlier to pick up his packet for his first Xterra race, to listen to some pros offer advice at various seminars and to scout the bike course.
As he walked into the expo area, he heard someone behind him asked, "Are you the Kahuna?" It's fun to be semi-famous.
"Why, yes I am!"
Turns out, Amelia was a "Get Your Geek On!" podcast fan who had decided to give the sport of triathlon a try after listening to the Kahuna, Iron Wil and SimplyStu. She was super nice.
Next, world champion Melanie McQuaid spotted the Kahuna and pedaled over to him on her mountain bike.
"Kahuna," she said. "I want you to meet my boyfriend, Ross."
It's nice when the world champion refers to you as "Kahuna."
Then there was the "Art of Xterra" seminar where four pros, including Melanie, gave their secrets about how to have a good race.
Their talk was all good, but the Kahuna kept staring at the super-steep hill behind them. The first ascent on the 30K looked impossibly steep. Most riders were pushing their bikes up the mile-long portion of the trail, while the pros talked about never going to the granny gear while on the course.
After a quick interview with Melanie and Amelia for the "Get Your Geek On!" podcast, the Kahuna decided to check out the bike trail.
It was a humbling experience, like driving in the Indy 500 after just learning to drive. The Kahuna had no business being out there. He just didn't have enough hours on the mountain bike.
Still, he was THE KAHUNA! So he continued on, the whole time trying to figure out how the hell he was going to get around this course -- twice -- during the race. He also had new admiration for the Xterra athletes whose mountain biking ability was huge and really unfathomable until you're barreling down a single track trail, the mountain on one side and a cliff on the other.
The Kahuna knew he was going to be hurt. He just didn't know how. A broken collarbone? Smashed in teeth? A split-opened head?
His flight through the air seemed to last forever. And then, finally, he hit. BAM! His helmet hit the rocks first, creating a loud explosion in the Kahuna's head. He saw stars and wondered if he would die.
Now it was quiet. The Kahuna laid face down on the rocks. He didn't want to move until he figured out how badly he was hurt. His head pounded. He was able to move his arms and legs. After a minute or so, he pushed his back off him and turned over. A purplish contusion in shape and size of an avocado had formed on his left shin. Pain shot through his left hip. His left shoulder, too.
He was shaking and in shock. It occurred to him that he was halfway around the 15K loop with likely no other riders coming along the way this late in the day. He pulled his bike and himself back up to the trail.
The bike's chain had some off and the right ride of the bike's handlebars broken in half. If he was careful, he could make it back his car.
For the next 45 minutes, he walked up and down any hill of consequence as his body started to freeze up. Shooting pains in his neck. Growing tightness in his back. Increased soreness in his shoulder, hip and shin. He was never more happy to see his car than that day.
Between his broken body and broken bike, Sunday's race was off. The Kahuna didn't deserve to be in it anyway. He had committed a grave sin by disrespecting the discipline. Nature has a way with dealing with the weak.
Today, less than 24 hours after the accident, the Kahuna feels both embarrassed and fortunate. Embarrassed because he should have known better (yes, it occurred to him that some of you had warned him that this would happen). Fortunate because he came away from the crash with only a bruised face, shoulder, hip, shin, and ego; a sore neck; and massive headache. No broken bones, no stitches, no Ironman Florida-ending injuries.
He'll live to do triathlon another day.
Do you want to read more by Kahuna? Just visit his blog by clicking HERE.