If you examine the photo above, (click on the title of this blog if you don’t see it), you will see what I would term as one of the great face plants of all time. This is my friend Scott Root who was leading a mountain bike race down in West Virginia when he had a slight collision with another rider that sent him flying and tacoed his wheel. You can see this in the flying debris above Scott’s head. Now I have been over a lot of handlebars in my time both on the road and on a mountain bike and also have caught an edge on skis that sent me careening on my face down a snowy slope, but I have never seen a plant as heinous as this. Interestingly Scott survived and actually drove himself home and was nursing what he termed as “hole” in his shoulder. He had the foresight to go see a doctor the next day but somehow managed his pain after the race and on the long drive back from the mountains of West Virginia.
I tell you all of this not only to give you appreciation of the collossal face plant, but also to tell you a little bit about Scott Root. I first ran into Scott years ago when he was an outstanding swimmer and a terrific athlete even at a young age. We are contemporaries and his prowess as a swimmer was well known in the AAU circles. He went on to a very successful high school and college career and I ran into him years later when he entered the fray of mountain bike racing. ” Weren’t you the Scott Root that I knew years ago as a swimmer?” The affirmative answer also led to many discussions which included the fact that Scott was the silver medalist in the World Masters Mountain Bike Race in Quebec a number of years ago. He is a very successful local and regional racer and to this day still races in the Expert Category rather than compete with the Masters who are his contemporaries. Point being that Scott still rides and races at a very high level despite the fact that he is a contemporary of the 59 year old kid. Some of us have kept up riding and staying in shape because it is important for good health. Scott takes it one step further by staying in race shape and never letting his guard down over the years.
Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin refer to the classics bike racers as “hard men of the peloton.” If you look at my post from last week, you will see George Hincapie competing in Paris Roubaix and he surely was one of the “hard men of the peloton.” Scott Root would qualify as one of the hard men around here. Not many guys could pick themselves up after a face plant like that and get home with a “hole” in their shoulder and not seek medical help until the next day. Not many guys his age can ride at that level against a much younger competition and still win and place in most Expert Races. Not many guys are that dedicated that they commute to work on a bike in all kinds of winter weather and searing summer temperatures. Scott does and remains a very fit individual. There is a lesson here. I always try to encourage folks to get involved with outdoor pursuits and even at my age, you can keep doing what you have been doing as long as you are consistent and nothing catastrophic happens to you. Ratchet it up a level and some of you can continue to ride, run, ski hard and do it at a very high level. Ratchet it up one more level, and you continue to train and race like Scott and keep being competitive at an older age. No matter where you find yourself, keeping fit and testing your limits, can be an enlightening and productive way to spend your off time. You would be amazed to see the older athletes out there today competing and just partaking in high level outdoor pursuits. You don’t quit playing because you get old, you get old because you quit playing. You don’t have to be a “hard man of the peleton” but you also don’t have to let age dictate your fun or lack thereof.
One other comment on the “Faceplant”. Many of us have faceplants in life that do not happen over the bar of a bicycle or on a pair of skis. Some of us have things going real well and then all of a sudden we have a job loss, the loss of a spouse, issues with children, aging parents, any number of things that can lead to a virtual faceplant but a tough experience nonetheless. Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it. Can you survive the faceplants in life? I have had my share both literally and figuratively but I always find that having a positive attitude and counting my blessings in life help me through these “plants”. Never underestimate the power of thankfulness and prayer as you go through life’s faceplants. You may not be banging your head off the asphalt like Scotty here but if you take his attitude and get up to fight another day, you can be a “hard man” in your own right aided by the experience of a fall and the courage to face another challenge- day by day. Keep riding, running, skiing, swimming, whatever floats your boat and thanks for reading and following the blog.