CRAFTING A RESCUE
Bike|Fall 2020
A LIFE-CHANGING DAY DEEP IN THE WOODS
LACY KEMP

Skye Schillhammer was shooting photos in Bellingham, Washington, on a winter day with Pacific Northwest ripper Taylor James, a local well-known for his wild-guy antics on and off the bike, when suddenly the day took a serious turn. James had just attempted to flip his downhill bike but came up short and emerged covered in dirt. It was one of those days when you have to really want to ride. Temperatures hovered around freezing. The dirt was as hard as concrete and tires felt like Lego blocks rolling against the frozen earth. The crash ended a long day of shooting.

That’s when the two encountered a visibly panicked man. “He was frantic,” said Schillhammer, who works for Transition Bikes. “He told us his buddy was badly injured. He didn’t really know where he was, but Taylor and I are familiar with the area, so we were able to figure it out.” When they arrived, they found Richard Kiene in a scene no one ever wants to see. “Richard was delirious and moaning. He couldn’t feel his legs. He was shivering and blueish and covered in everyone’s clothes to stay warm. They had managed to move him down the trail to a gated access road by the time we arrived. I remember being shocked they’d attempted to move him at all,” Schillhammer recalled. Kiene said the crash wasn’t extraordinary, but when he went down, he didn’t roll out the way he normally would. His first inclination was to get himself and the bike off the trail but when he went to move, his legs lay still. “I figured I had broken my back, but I thought in a minute I’d come around and at least be able to move,” He said. “Then it became clear that my legs weren’t working at all and my back was in excruciating pain.”

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