Open Mic: Marshal Olson



Calculating Risk

I am 33 years old now. While that is by no means old, I am not a young man anymore. My body takes 1 month to heal, not 1 week—or 5 minutes, like it did during the “invincible phase” of life (17-27).

As I sit here typing this, I have at least 6 open and bleeding wounds on my back, arm, and shoulder, as well as a welt the size of a golf ball on my shin from a crash just 1 hour ago.

4 months ago, I fractured 3 ribs.

2 months ago, I partially tore my LCL, and bruised my tibial plateau.

4 weeks ago, I bruised 2 other ribs and tore a bunch of cartilage in between them.

I am maybe a little pig-headed, and certainly not smart, but certainly not some action movie tough guy. Yet, despite my injury list, I have managed to miss only a total of 3.5 weeks of riding this summer.

Marshal Olson, Blister Gear Review
Marshal Olson, Jacobs Ladder, Draper, Utah.

Sorry, doc. I know you told me to skip 8 weeks for the ribs, 4 weeks for the knee, and 4 more weeks for the ribs (again).

But evidently, I’d really rather not sit around and be bummed out and depressed the whole summer waiting for every ailment to go away. And besides, as daredevil Lance Murdoch once said on The Simpsons, “Wounds Heel. Chicks dig scars. The United States has the best doctor-to-daredevil ratio in the world.”

Furthermore, I think those mountains get lonely without me out there. I certainly get lonely without them.

And you told me to let pain determine my recovery time frame. I swear, I have had only moderate discomfort. OK, that might be a gross misrepresentation, but I do feel that if you can (1) do a push-up and (2) do a squat, you can (3) ride a bike. Or so I tell myself. Or so I trick myself. How?…

3 comments on “Open Mic: Marshal Olson”

  1. Marshall,

    Nice to hear an expression of what we gain from pushing personal limits. I get tired of the constant drivel about not taking risks. Nowadays I seem to push the limit less and less on a day to day basis. I feel like I have a better defined knowledge of what I can ride. I ride with less intensity nowadays, further from the edge, but have found joy and excitement in different ways. I try to find the perfect line, the smoothest transition and best style in every trail. That being said i still try and push the envelope when I race. I love the intensity and focus of an adrenaline fueled sequence when you’re railing something difficult and near your limits.

    Unfortunately at a certain point your injuries don’t heal but linger, and management is the only option. Ease up on the ibuprofen and make sure you do heal up as well as you can. Physio and yoga can go a long way to extending your rad riding days. Don’t forget to re-read this when you’re 43, you’ve got lots of riding days left!

  2. fraser, thanks for sharing.

    i can say that while i certainly am still a bit cavalier, I am certainly slowing it down a bit, compared to 25 or whatever. I am more comfortable with my limits, I know generally speaking what i can and cannot get away with, and am more inclined to ride at 90% these days.

    but I think my point is that the only way to settle into that is to have pushed it long and hard… to really firmly understand what you can and cannot do. this in my opinion really makes riding at a high level more satisfying. knowing, i could ride 5% harder, and maybe be a bit sketchy, but not 10% harder.

    but yeah man, its all about the fun.

  3. Great editorial, Marshal. At 32, I’m right there with you. I’m about 6 weeks off getting back from completely severing my UCL in my right thumb. It’s certainly given me pause on the dirt, considering I got this injury trying to ride at 110% down on Teton Pass. It seems that when injury happens now, it’s much bigger and more painful.

    All it takes is all you got. Get out there, have fun and tell tall tales. Oh … and pray for snow!

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