Subject: Skibiking and the helmet

At Fred Peterson's request I am going to relate this account of an accident I had last year on my ski bike. It's a good argument for using a helmet when you ride, ski or snowboard.

   Last year I purchased my first ski bike. You should know that I have skied for some (40) years, since 1960. I started when I was (10) years old. I raced in high school and also in college intramurals. I taught skiing for three years in college and have taken the Universityof Montana instructors' course and some 'refresher courses'. Twenty-five years ago, I tore the anterior cruciate ligament in my right knee playing basketball. The injury was mis-diagnosed and not treated. To make a long story short, many years and three major surgeries later, I found myself (50) years old and virtually unable to continue skiing! Then I discovered "Skibikes!" It was the answer to my handicap. I obtained permission from area ski resorts to ride and purchased a helmet and a lift pass. Last March, Big Mountain held the 2001 Senior National Championship Downhill race.  It included some pretty big-time names, such as Darren Rahlves, Picabo Street, Bill Johnson to name a few. My friend from the local newspaper and I went to watch and ski/ride the mountain.  The day was quite warm and sunny. After awhile we decided to do some skiing/riding. I was pretty warm and over-dressed. I shucked my coat and helmet and stowed them in my buddy's backpack that he had brought along to carry his camera equipment in. We decided to make a run from the summit via a run called "The School Run."  Later I was to be quoted as saying "I got 'schooled' on the 'School Run.'  There's a nice little headwall leading to the flat runout leading to the School Run. Helmet-less, I was feeling a little overconfident and cocky about my riding skills and my bike's capabilities. I pointed the nose down and "tucked" the headwall, building a considerable amount of speed. About halfway across the flat my bike went into a sideways skid!  I was really hauling!  I didn't panic, at first. But my bike started to veer off to the right and I was heading directly at a woman on skis standing off to my right. Then I panicked!  I was afraid I might run into the woman. Of course I over-corrrected, caught a downhill edge and the bike and I were launched high into the air in a cloud of snow. I went over the handlebars like I'd been shot out of a catapult, with the bike following right behind. I landed on my back and my head was slammed hard into the hard-packed snow. I saw stars and my vision blurred. I regained my wits shortly and tried to kneel, but was so dizzy I fell over. I tried this three times before I succeeded. Then I threw up. It really scared me, because of the vision blurring. I was afraid my vision wouldn't return to normal. Luckily in a couple of minutes my vision cleared. I had a headache all day, but that was, fortunately, the only long lasting effect on my body. However............. the whole experience had a "very" long lasting effect on my emotional well-being and common sense!  I learned not to over-estimate my ability or my lack of experience. But, more importantly, I learned not to 'ever, ever' ride without a helmet!!  I was really lucky not to have any permanent head or neuro-motor injuries. I won't be caught without a helmet ever again!  It's like not wearing a seatbelt in an automobile.

Jeff Crocker
Kalispell, MT
Subject: My 1st Ski-Bike Resort Experience!

I wanted to share my 2002 Ski-Biking experience at Wisp, a Maryland Ski Resort. I read an article in a local paper about the resort, and they had a single reference to Snowbikes. Following up, I found they rent them, provide instruction, and allow skibike owners to ride their own equipment. So, I packed the kids and my wife, and my Brenter Commodore SkiBob (circa.1970) and headed for the hills of western Maryland.

After checking in and getting the boys their equipment (one's a snowboarder, the other tried snowblades), I strapped on my short skis, and grabbed the towline. Determined to "warm up" on the bunny hill, all went well. I got a lot of looks and comments, as I made several runs down the slope, getting comfortable with the equipment, this being my first trip with the snowbike to a ski resort. While Wisp rents snowbikes (the K2 model), I probably saw one used during our Thursday afternoon/evening session.

Having mastered the easy slope and full of confidence to attack the lifts, I joined my snowboarder son and headed for the chair lifts. When we got to the head of the line, I was told I couldn't ride the lift without a "leash". It turns out that the resort rented their equipment with a leash, while the lift instructions I got with my skibob said nothing about leashes!

Alas, not to be banned from the lifts, I inquired further at the rental shop, and they were gracious enough to let me borrow a leash, and show me how they expected it used. Hurray! I was now approved to ride the lifts.

Since my snowboarding son got on the lift ahead of me, and was already gone, I was on my own (for this first lift ride at least). Mounting the lift chair was fine, I "leashed" the bike to the chair, and relaxed to enjoy the trip. Dismounting was the next big challenge. With the foot skis in place, and the bike "unleashed" I prepared to get off the chair with the bike between my legs and ski off the lift. What a disaster! I'm sure I was a sight to see, all tangled up in the bike, falling off the lift!

With only my ego bruised, I got up, dusted myself off, and readied myself for the long trip back down the slope. What an awesome ride was ahead of me! I can't begin to express the exhilaration of that first trip down. It was fast, I began to slalom, testing the cornering, turning, and general operation of the bike. While the fear of falling was there, I made the trip down without a spill, excited to get back to the top and repeat the thrill. I discovered later that the lift I chose to ride first was actually one of the more difficult runs at the resort!  

The next ride, and the rides for rest of the session, were spent on a moderate run, having corralled my snowboarder and snowblader and agreeing to stick together. The attendance for that mid-week session was light, so the traffic on the lift was light. We were able to ski down the slope, and get right back on the lift. That in itself might be a recommendation. Go to the ski resort for a midweek, evening session. Less waiting, more riding! And, I mastered the lift dismount too! Holding the ski-bike on my hip, I was able to ski off the lift gracefully, and mount the bike once I had cleared the lift area.

So, all in all, my first ski resort experience on a skibike was a huge success. The only downside was that I lost one of my foot skis on my last trip down. It was not quite secure when I got off the lift, and foolishly, I didn't stop to get it adjusted. I hit a bump or mogul wrong, and it headed off down the slope and off the trail into the woods. Because it was dark, I couldn't recover the ski, and my repeated calls to the resort Lost&Found have not yet resulted in finding the ski. So, I'll probably need to find a replacement somewhere or buy a new set of short skis.

Bottomline? I am a true believer in ski-biking! It's the only way to go now, for me. I'm going to work on the other ski resorts in my area (MD, PA, VA), and try to encourage them to become ski-bike friendly.

-Enthusiastically submitted by Pete Kester.