Take a moment to enter this number into your phone 0800 Whaka 1 (94252 1)
Some say that to write with authority about most subjects, you need to experience it to truly understand all the mechanics. Until Waitangi Day, I had hoped that didn't include first hand knowledge of the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club 1st Emergency Response Unit It's a critical part of the forest infrastructure, that's their phone number - and I'm one of their statistics, now.
For the first time in months I was on a ride where I felt truly comfortable. I'd had an issue with my left hip being tight and often painful. Elijah Areli at the Physiotherapy Clinic at QE Health sorted out that out.
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Apparently, there's stretching. Then, there's over-stretching.
As well as the lack of pain, I felt that there was a renewed balance between left and right legs and restored strength in my left quad and we powered up Red Tank Road. From there, we usually head down Dragon's Tale, detour into Te Ara Puna then run down the road to the Duck Pond and drop into Puarenga. It was a long time we'd ridden Be Rude Not To, so why not?
Be Rude was one of those trails that kicked off a flurry of trail building in the early 2000s. Mark Smith was the lead builder and crafted the trail out of the soil by hand, following the natural contours of the landscape above The Wash. It flowed, with short technical sections to keep you honest. I loved it.
After logging, the top part needed reconstruction and was in the current style at the time: berms and doubles. A lot of the original character was lost. However, on our national day, it was fast and enjoyable. It was great to get into the old section, though. So good I slowed briefly to pass on that sentiment to my riding buddy.
A slight head turn back, a moment of inattention…slippery roots, a ponga to the left shoulder…and boom.
I came in hard on the right hip, then shoulder before a soft landing for my head and helmet. No bones were broken and no concussion...phew. However, deep tissue injuries can be both painful and take a while to fully heal up, apparently. Cue QE Health Physio, again.
The paramedic who trundled up in the Emergency Unit's buggy to check me out and then transport my bike and I out of the forest was Budgie Woods, from Peak Safety. I've known Budgie for a while and seen him at work before. He was his usual calm, professional, drily humorous self - all very reassuring.
And that's a description that can be applied to the Unit. No one wants to crash, but expert help and rapid evacuation is in now place - something that we all can be grateful for. Who knows when you might need help?
You can contribute to the Unit at bike shops and cafés round town or on the Club website: www.mtbclub.org.nz
Three weeks to go till Crankworx 2018, including the Giant Toa Enduro, arrives in town. There are 5-day family passes available for the action at Skyline, which are excellent value: www.crankworx.com/festival/rotorua/