You ride your bike long enough, you’re gonna eat it sooner or later. Especially if you ride in a place like Pisgah National Forest, where the trails can be steep and stacked with off camber root gardens, mandatory boulder drops and little gnomes that jump out of the woods and push you off your bike. Sometimes, it doesn’t even take burly singletrack or mythical woodland creatures to knock you off your bike. Sometimes, you’re going 25 mph down a gravel road after surviving 20 miles of non-stop technical singletrack and combative gnomes and you do something stupid, like take a hand off the handlebars to adjust your helmet, and right then your front tire hits a babyhead in the middle of the road and your handlebars twist. And it happens fast, because you’re going 25 mph, so before you know it, you’re on the ground, elbow and shoulder first, then your face and knees. The bike lands on top of you, like a painful blanket.

Ah, mountain biking.

Shit happens. The only thing you can do is get back up, make sure nothing’s broken and keep pedaling. But what do you drink to ease the pain when it’s all over? When you’re back home and your picking gravel out of an open wound in your knee? That’s the real question.

“Drink some whiskey and rub some dirt on it?”

That’s what my buddy suggested after I picked myself up off the gravel.

There’s a certain traditional logic to the suggestion. Think of all those great movies where the hero downs a shot of brown stuff and bites down on a strap of leather while his partner digs a bullet out of his shoulder.

At this point, drinking a tall glass of bourbon while licking my wounds after eating shit on my bike has become a bit of a tradition for me. The way I do it doesn’t look exactly like those cliché hero/action movie scenes. I tend to whimper more than those dudes in the movies. Typically, nobody is pulling a bullet out of my body. Instead, it’s my wife hovering over me, silently recounting all of the other guys she could’ve married. Bankers and doctors who don’t come home broken and bloody. My ritual usually ends with my wife applying a Hello Kitty Band-Aid to my wound. So really, it looks nothing like those action movies. Except the whisky. That part’s the same.