Your city manager took a vacation day on Monday so he could get out and soak in some of the last warm weather of the season. And let me tell you what, I found the proverbial piece of heaven outside Loudonville Ohio in Mohican State Park. Anyone that ever called Ohio flat has not had a chance to go crashing down the slopes of Mohican’s 25 mile single track mountain bike trail. We rode for over 4 hours on some of the most beautiful trail I’ve ever been on — never mind that I was so dehyrdated that I battled nausea and wicked cramps all the way home in the car giving my equally exhausted riding partner the best laughs he had all day — it was worth every minute.
Speaking of crashing down mountain bike trails I have to share with you the following article from Sports Illustrated that honors a true mountain biking champ and epitomizes the spirit that makes mountain biking the fastest growing outdoor sport in America.
Missy the Missile
I know bullriders and hockey players and NFL vets, and I’m here to tell you: Missy Giove is the toughest athlete I’ve ever met. Not long ago the Missile announced her retirement from downhill mountain biking. Her absence makes the sports world a duller, if slightly safer, place.
It wasn’t so much the races and the titles she won — 21 National Off-Road Biking Association (NORBA) victories, 13 World Cup wins, three NORBA overall crowns, two World Cup overalls and the 1994 world championship — as the way she won them. Bombing down the mountain with the carcass of her late pet piranha flopping from a string around her neck, the ashes of her deceased dog (and later, of certain friends) sprinkled in her bra, the Missile made the edge of the envelope her permanent address.
Beneath the two-tone Mohawk was a delightfully deep thinker. The teetotaling Queens, N.Y.-born Giove, 32, is a self-taught master of nutrition, alternative medicine and physiology. A “high-performance kinesiologist” and a trainer for Trixter, a San Francisco-based fitness company, she mixes advice on how to lead a richer, fuller life (“Taking care of yourself emotionally and mentally is very important”) with maternal hectoring (“After you crash, you’ve gotta throw your helmet out. I don’t care what it cost. Go buy a new one or don’t do the sport”).
When your path to enlightenment is the sickest line down the hill, your medical-insurance carrier will come to know you on a first-name basis. So it was with Giove, who suggests, when asked to catalog her major injuries, “Let’s start at my feet and work up.” The next quarter hour is given over to a breezy cataloging of her traumas: “They want to do surgery on both my ankles…. I’ve gotten at least three avulsion fractures, where the ligament pulls off a little piece of bone…. Every year for the past nine I’ve torn one of my MCLs…. I’ve broken both tibia and both fibia, twice.” She looks on the bright side. “No femurs, though.”
She shattered her pelvis in a ’94 crash in New Mexico that left her in a wheelchair. “Broke both of my iliac crests all the way through,” she says.
Beg pardon? “Iliac crests — you know, those big wings under your ass. I broke both, all the way down, like lightning bolts.”
She came out of the wheelchair and won the world championship in Vail, Colo., the same year. But we digress. Giove counts eight cracked ribs, five broken wrists, bruised lungs, a ruptured spleen, two fractured vertebrae (C1, L5), two broken legs, two fractured heels, two broken knee caps and a cracked sternum. She ticks off five major concussions — “The ones where I was knocked out and came to in the hospital or came to and had to go to the hospital.”
And there was the whole brain hemorrhage thing. At the bottom of the course at the World Cup championships in Vail in 2001, Giove cartwheeled off her bike, whipping her head into the ground. Her brain bled. She had a migraine for nearly three months. “If I moved too much, I’d throw up,” she says. Giove was told she had to stop racing.
She did. For six months. But when the migraines went away, she went for some cross-country mountain-bike rides. “Then I got on my slalom bike, then I went downhilling, and I was going really f—–‘ fast,” Giove says. As long as she felt that good on the bike, how was she supposed to not race?
All was going well until that blustery day in Slovenia in ’02, when she was blown off her bike in midair, free-fell 30 feet and suffered a puncture wound. “I could put my finger behind my lower lip and it came out under my chin,” she recalls. She intended to race a limited schedule last year but dislocated a shoulder, then broke a wrist and said, basically, The hell with it.
She may show up for a race or two this season. But these days, Giove is into freeriding. And what, Missy, is that? “Say, as you’re driving on the highway and you see some cliffs to your right, you park the car, get out, climb up and go where you wanna go. You take some nasty lines. It’s downhilling, but with bigger obstacles. We might build a jump, shoot across some logs 15 feet high, drop off ’em.
“This is where I think our sport is going. Not that racing’s going to be dead, but it’s a little flat right now.”
Without the Missile, it just got a little flatter.
Issue date: May 31, 2004
I’ve always admired people with the combination of courage and talent that make great things happen. There’s plenty that have one or the other, but few have both. And that’s the unstated lesson of mountain biking — mustering up the fortitude to push yourself outside your comfort zone with skill, style and technique that produces something that you’ve never done before. It’s that same spirt that drives business mavericks and great community leaders to take calculated risks and make bold decisions when they need to be made.
Sometimes it’s takes a day in the park to see what’s important and to be reminded of what it takes to push our way closer to the prosperity we all want for Kent. Trust me, get on your bike and go ride Mohican and as your troubles fade into the distance you’ll realize that we have everything we need to get the job done right now — the challenge is staying out of the ruts and generating enough speed to ride over the rocks, keeping our eyes focused on the trail ahead.
It’s a funny dynamic in mountain biking — if you let your attention focus on the trouble spots that’s exactly where you’ll end up — but if you force yourself to trust in your skills and push your focus to where you want to go that’s also exactly where you’ll end up. It’s all a matter of choosing your point of focus: the trouble or the good. The same holds true for Kent.