MakeShift — Mountain Bike Rescue

MakeShift — Mountain Bike Rescue


The Scenario:

You and your best friend, both experienced mountain bikers, take off on a daylong jaunt to explore a little-known and rocky canyon trail. The ride is challenging but spectacular until, as you finally decide to turn around and head back, your friend’s bike hits a loose rock, skids out from under him, and they both topple off the edge of the trail down into the canyon. Smashing his knee in the fall, your friend manages to land on a thin, unstable ledge about 15 feet straight down from the trail, only able to keep himself from falling farther by grabbing onto a small but secure tree branch jutting out from the rock, while his bike cartwheels out of sight to the bottom of the canyon.

The Challenge:

Your friend is clearly in a lot of pain and there’s no telling how long the ledge he’s on will hold, so riding the many miles out to the trailhead to call for outside help is not an option. And, as is always the case in these situations, your cellphone gets no signal out here. Bottom line, you need to figure out a way to get your friend, who weighs a good 30 pounds more than you, up off that ledge and back down the trail to your car before nightfall — which is maybe four or so hours off.

What You Have:

In addition to your bike, you’ve got your daypack, which contains a canteen of water, some protein bars, a basic bicycle repair tool kit, an extra inner tube, your Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool, a strong, flexible, 3-foot wire saw with split-ring finger-handles on both ends, some waterproof matches, and roughly 30 feet of strong nylon cord you use to tie your bikes onto the car. Since you know from experience that you can’t predict the weather, you also have some waterproof nylon rain gear and a warm jacket. There are some small trees on the upper side of the trail but none immediately adjacent to the ledge where your friend fell. Though he’s conscious, it’s best to assume he can do very little to assist you in getting him off the ledge below, and he certainly won’t be able to walk if and when you do. However, he does have enough strength in his arms to hang onto the tree branch, at least for now. So what are you going to do?

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Lee D. Zlotoff

Lee D. Zlotoff is a writer/producer/director among whose numerous credits is creator of MacGyver. He is also president of Custom Image Concepts (

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