Friday, June 20, 2014

Gibson's KOM Attempt on Danger Pass

As kids, we used to cruise the golf course on our bikes on Mondays when the course was closed for maintenance. The golf cart paths were perfect for this. Without any golfers around, it was our own private circuit, and a long one at that.

Hole #16 (par 3, 172 yards, blue tees) was one of our favorites. Starting from the #17 tee box, it descended with a sweeping turn that flanked a densely wooded embankment hiding a rocky creek some eight feet below. Normally, this hill wasn't a hazard for golf carts because they typically went uphill to advance to the next hole. Nevertheless, the golf course engineers mitigated the risk by building a railroad-tie curb and a three foot high, braided-steel cable fence to catch any troubled carts from going off the path and into the creek below.

But riding the four-foot wide path downhill, with all those hazards, on bike with only a coaster brake, was exhilarating as it was nerve racking.

We called it Danger Pass.

By now, there is no doubt you can guess where this is heading. Shall we continue? Good.

One Monday, my buddies Gibson, Burkemper and I were riding the course. As we approached #16, Gibson impromptly blurted out that he was going to set the course record on Danger Pass. For those regular followers of this blog, you may recall Gibson. He's stuntman Sam, the same guy who also attempted to jump #7 pond on the same golf course.

Setting a record on Danger Pass was a gutsy call. Long before there was commercial GPS or Strava, we kept track of course records on Casio digital watches. If no one wore a wrist watch, then counting Mississippi's was the next best thing. A King of the Mountain was still a KOM no matter how it was recorded. Even back then, a KOM still meant nothing, and everything.

Now when a kid said he was going to do something this monumental, his word was final. There was no talking about it, either to encourage or dissuade him. At best, a simple head nod was all that was necessary when such a claim was staked.

So like when a golf pro attempts a daring shot, a sobering hush fell over Burkemper and I as Gibson lined up his approach atop #17's tee box (green arrow). Gibson paused as the wind tousled through his curled hoosier-mullet. Then, he stood and deftly drove the force of his leg into his pedal, setting into motion the historic run at Danger Pass.

Greenbriar Hills CC #16, AKA Danger Pass
One Mississippi, two Mississippi... Gibson was a quarter way into the turn and was making good speed. At three Mississippi, he had stopped pedaling, his inside leg tucked in high and tight as he leaned into the turn. His line was good, approaching from outside to the inner apex.

At four Mississippi things started to go awry (yellow arrow). His front wheel bobbled over a patch of rough asphalt. He attempted to correct it, but alas, the sharp corner was all over him, or he was all over it (red arrow). And just like that, his front wheel drove into the railroad tie while the three braided steel cables snared his bike, catapulting him over the handlebars where a mouth in the dense foliage formed and opened wide, swallowing him whole.


We hurried to the spot his bike had come to a rest. The trees burped up muffled moaning as we bushwhack towards him. I spotted him first.

You know that scene in Extra Terrestrial (1982) when E.T. had all but given up hope of ever returning home, and they found him all pasty looking in that creek bed?


E.T. had nothing on Gibson

Gibson looked far worse. Far worse. His skin was as ghastly white as E.T. was, but c'mon you could tell E.T was a rubber suit. And where was the blood? Gibson had all the pastiness that E.T. had, plus the blood: a bloodied face, arms, knees, and a deep gash on shin.

I could go on and on about how Burkemper was slapping leaves on Gibson's wounds, and how he started to take off his belt to apply a tourniquet to Gibson's leg, but in the end, Gibson managed to walk home on his own power. When it was final, he had a broken collarbone, eight stitches in his shin, and lots of small cuts and bruises all over.

We gave the KOM to Gibson. As far as I know, that was the last time anybody attempted the Danger Pass KOM anyway.

There. I'm done with KOMs-Gone-Bad for awhile.

Happy Friday and thanks for reading.

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