Garuch rolls down a smooth path and crashes.
Garuch jumps a tree stump.... and crashes.
Garuch grinds some steps and crashes.
Garuch jumps a puddle and falls into a lake.
Garuch jumps a dumpster and crashes...
If there is one thing Garuch is good at, its crashing. He's got the balance of a six month old baby, if that. Which is exactly why we chose him to test the Crash Pads. And except for his brain (which was already dead) he appeared to survive most of his various interactions with hard surfaces.
Well yeah, I do tend to crash a lot! No, it's not that I am really exploring the extremes of the Mountain biking sport. It's not that I am trying new and exciting freestyle moves. I am not pushing the limits of the equipment and designs. It's just that I am not really very good at mountain biking!
So like the man said when we decided to test the crash pads it was a no brainer... feed it to Ralphie... let Gary wear it! We suited up and headed out for the wilds of Hempstead Lake State Park. The morning had dawned chilly. At ride out the temp. was in the range of 60 degrees, so I was actually happy for the extra layer that the crash pads provided.
Now as you can see the crash pads are, well, let's say that they are designed more for the extreme cyclist. It could even be said that they are a tad incongruous on an old dude like me, but then what with the brittle bones of the "mature set" maybe they are actually a good idea! Although, the manufacturer includes the following disclaimer on their merchandise tags. "Crash Pads do not prevent injury. So, if you're even thinking of buying these, you know the story. Don't blame us if you're sporting beyond your intelligence." Could they have been referring to me? Nah!
Our route took us through the sleepy village of Rockville Center on our Way to Hempstead Lake State Park. Now Rockville Center is a kind of upscale, uptight incorporated village with it's own police force, and here I am pedaling through it dressed like an urban night fighter, I half expected to get arrested along the way just for my aura, but we apparently dodged most of the cops so we passed without incident, well mostly, there were those joggers who ran into trees staring at me, but I consider those to be self inflicted wounds.
Once we made the perimeter of HLSP we had to ride a narrow strip of root erupted macadam between the barbed wire fence and the guard rail for Peninsula Boulevard. The route is quite picturesque really. It offers a wide variety of broken glass shards and rusted truck parts, a veritable chicane course of obstacles and handling challenges. I pushed the limits of my Cannondale's handling characteristics without too much in the way of incidents, or flats. Do not try this at home!
Once we made the park, the ride opened up for some real technical fun riding. Peninsula Boulevard is a main thoroughfare, north-south route in Southern Nassau County and as such it is heavily trafficked 24-7 it is limited access so there are a number of pedestrian overpasses. One of the first has a grand curved staircase reminiscent of a certain doomed oceanliner, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kate Winslet, its siren call was too hard too resist, first I climbed, then I descended, grace aplomb and technical skill, all were enhanced by the feeling of invincibility augmented by my Crash Pads Body Armor! My 6000 series Upper Body Armor, with tail piece protection shielded all my close to the surface skeletal points, and its velcro'd cummerbund kept my softer parts contained. Personally I thought my descent was unflawed, but I guess the ride out could have been polished up a bit!
Although Long Island does have its hills, they are mostly limited to the North Shore. The South Shore is about as flat as a 20 year old starlet's abdomen, so when you see a bit of a downhill from mountainbike back, you take it! I noticed the washout access to the lake as I passed by so a Quick left had me "shooting the rift." Alas the loose sand at the bottom proved more challenging than I thought. Although it did give me an opportunity to test the flotation effect of the Crash Pad garb! It is important to remember that I am a highly trained professional rider! Do not attempt this at home, or in unguarded waters!
We headed North through the picnic and tennis areas of the park toward the more technical trail sections, but along the way there were some technical challenges we found to test our jumping skills. The first was an old oak stump. Although this particular trail obstacle did not require a great deal of "air" in terms of altitude, it did require a fair amount of hang time as it was a wide stump. So the key to successfully completing this jump was speed! As I charged the stump pedaling furiously, it occurred to me how unencumbered I felt in the body armor. I had actually expected some restriction of movement. Really the only thing in terms of movement restriction I discovered was the aforementioned girdle effect of the cummerbund velcro closure securing my ample girth. (This would be a good thing!) Aside from that, although you do know you are wearing it, the freedom of movement is just fine! Oh yeah the jump, well... wear a helmet! The body armor won't help here!
[Editor's Note: This is a professional rider on a closed course - do not attempt this at home!]
The next challenge was some really vertical air! This particular obstacle really stretched the limits of my technical biking envelope! The envelope broke! It is important to note that unlike most biking luminaries, I do all my own stunts! No stunt doubles or intellectually challenged riders were injured in the production of this article!
[Editor's Note: All scenes were produced under the supervision of PETB. That's People for the Ethical Treatment of Bicycles!]
Finally we rode out of the Bike Park Section of the ride into the woods. I was seriously looking forward to testing the Body armor against brambles and thorns. My arms still carried the remnants of last week's trail ride, and I needed to see if the Crash Pads would help defeat their insidious flesh rending thorns!
Now during the cold weather last winter, my son-in-law Jim and I enjoyed a really great ride through the trails at the north end of the park, between the Southern State Parkway and Hempstead High. There are numerous trails up in that end of the park and it is a tree lined uninhabited section perfect for trail riding. Alas, this is in winter. During the summer months it is a totally different story! It is all soft sand! Well nearly all!
I did at least three OTB trips (over the bar) endo's, flips, face plants, you name it, as my front wheel buried itself up to the axel, steering was more like answering the helm as the front wheel just mushed sideways through the loosened silica quartz grains. We struck out cross country through the brush and brambles. I endo'ed again as a branch thrust itself through my spokes. Let's just say, I bounced off of everything in site.
Now as you can see here, Dan was following along quietly recording all the wonderfully technical stunt executions for the pages of this article and the review of the Crash Pads, but by this point, all he kept muttering was "Let's get the hell out of here!" Now At first I thought it was concern on his part for my personal safety. Being worried that I might be exceeding the limits of my technique and the boundaries of the Crash pads to protect me from harm. But then I realized as he continued laughing, and complaining that he could not hold the camera still enough to record the images, that all it really was was fatigue on his part, and that I had ridden too far, and too fast for him, and that we needed to head for the barn. So, I checked my mental map of the trails in the area and routed a secure and unchallenging route home! This out of compassion for his weakened condition.
On our way out of the park we wove our route between paved and unpaved trails in the park, and we set a decent pace for mountain bikes. Once we were out of the more technical sections Dan seemed to recover well enough to ride with me at a decent enough pace to test out the wicking properties of the Crash Pad gear. As I pedaled back I reviewed in my mind the performance of the gear and I realized that I had suffered neither thorn bites nor any significant discomfort from impact damage. This is highly unusual for me on a trail ride. Typically my riding style affords me some macho points for damage, and an attractive limb or bruising for attracting the sympathy of the fairer sex. But today's events had left me relatively unscarred. A shame really!
[Editor's Note: Later as I showered I did find a smallish bruise on my upper thigh, apparently one of the branches or handle bars or pedals or something had penetrated a chink in the armor and delivered the bruise, but I had not felt it at that time. Alas it is located on a part of my thigh that precluded display in other than extremely intimate situations!]
The wicking properties were excellent. Although I was working hard enough to workup a decent sweat, it was not until after I had stripped off the Crash Pads that my Jersey actually developed wet spots as I walked the dog!
All told it was a fun ride and the product worked as advertised, it's just a shame Dan held me back! Well perhaps next time we can push harder, further and higher!
- Again, especially for our younger readers, the stunt riding portrayed here required years of practice and intense training. The riders shown here are highly compensated professionals.
- The state of decrepitude of the test dummy is due to 57 long years of partying like a rockstar not the events portrayed here. But, please do not attempt these stunts at home. Injury would almost certainly result! And remember that Crash Pads are not meant to protect you from injury! Only your brain can do that, and only when it is fully engaged!
- No bike's were harmed in the production of this article.
- The test dummy must have gone on a binder, his senses, judgement and balance were obviously severly impaired. Never use substances that may impair you mentally or physically before riding. Wait til after...]