Scary shit

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I’ve done some scary shit in my short time. One of those times is when I had to walk into the hospital room where Big Jonny was laying there bleeding and mumbling some incoherent shit about getting hit by a car. The first thing I did was grab a ball point pen and scratch the bottom of his foot to see if he could move his legs. His foot jerked up and I think he hit his knee or something on the bed or whatever, but at least I knew then that he could walk again. Think about it, one of your best friends that you know, and you just saw that morning, is now on a table fighting for everything they have or gonna have. In the blink of an eye our lives can change forever.

Right now one of our own is now beginning down that path. I don’t have the full details of what happened or what’s going on but please take the time to read this. James is a good friend of mine, so if James needs help the we as the DC family are sure as fuck going to help in any way we can.

Take the time to read this and send a message to her


Tara Llanes: The Heart of a Champion
By James Herrera, Tara’s coach and close friend

As she lays in a hospital bed following a seven hour surgery to the back and spinal cord, one of Tara’s doctors enters the room to explain the use of the Incentive Spiromter, a device frequently utilized in the medical community to test the health of the lungs following surgery. “Tara, now put this hose in your mouth and take the deepest breath you can.” The effects of the post surgery meds are still taking their toll as Tara, half asleep, takes hold of the device and inhales. “Not bad, 1000mls,” as the doctor takes back the device and turns to put it on the bedside table. Tara sleepily asks the doc, “so how much should I be doing?” He replies, “well, in a healthy young athlete like yourself, 4000-5000 is not uncommon, but you just had surgery last night.” As the doctor turns to leave the room, Tara sternly responds, “let me see that thing again.” With all the strength she can muster, she cranks out a 1750. Later in the day, she’d stepped it up to 2500. No one knows better than I do, this girls got the heart of a champion.

On Saturday September 1, 2007, Tara had a horrible crash at the Jeep King of the Mountain finale in Beaver Creek Colorado. During a semi final heat with eventual race winner Jill Kintner, Tara entered the second to last straight on the course and went over the bars on obstacle that sent her over the bars, coming down hard on her head then back. She was rushed to Vail Valley Medical Center, then Denver Health Hospital, where a specialty spinal cord team worked on her for seven hours over Saturday night. Tara’s crash caused a fracture to the C7 and L1 vertebra and damage to the spinal cord, resulting in a below the waist paralysis, a condition her surgeons say is most likely permanent, but there is always a possibility that things will change for the better.

En route to the hospital, I received a phone call from Honda motocross superstar, Ernesto Fonseca, reaffirming our beliefs that doctors don’t always know the ultimate outcome of a patient’s condition. In March of 2006, Ernesto suffered a training crash in preparation for the Daytona Supercross, resulting in damage to the spinal cord. Like Tara, Fonseca labored through a lengthy surgery and has made tremendous progress following surgery. “Don’t believe a word the doctors tell you. You just keep telling her to push and stay strong. I’m doing way more than they told me I ever would, and it’s only been a year.”

Through the advice of Tara’s physicians, Fonseca, and a number of other medical and personal friends, the family visited the world renowned Craig Hospital in Denver, a facility specializing in spinal cord injury rehabilitation and research. The tour was rather amazing, highlighting the rehabilitation, recreation, and education efforts provided to the patient and family. As we progressed through the tour, there was a circuit training physical therapy session taking place on the facilities basketball court. The intensity of the therapists, coaches, and hard work of the patients reaffirmed my belief that Tara would fit right in and push her recovery efforts to their absolute limit.

While visiting Craig, we had the pleasure of meeting the family of Stephen Murray, the professional dirt jumper who was left paralyzed below the shoulders following a crash in June of 2007 at the Dew Tour in Baltimore, MD. Stephen’s mom and wife are both incredible individuals, offering great information about the Craig facility and their sincerest support for Tara and her family. Charitable contributions to Stephen’s relief fund can be made at

Tara has been an athlete and champion of many sorts her entire life. She began her athletic lifestyle with a basketball in the third grade, going on to win a high school national championship. While in junior high, she discovered the sport of BMX. “My mom and I used to always pass this track, Orange BMX, on the side of the freeway. I think my nagging finally got to her and one night we stopped and watched the racing. By the next week, my mom bought me a pink CW with matching pink and grey AXO gear and we went back to the track. I ended up getting second place. Who would have known that night would have changed my future?” For the next few years, Tara and her biggest fan and supporter, MOM, flew around the country competing at national level events. Along the way, she acquired Haro as a sponsor.

“After a few years on the team I started to here about mountain biking. I was 16 years old and talked to my team manager about getting me a mountain bike to try out. He finally agreed and I went to a race in Big Bear and won in the junior class. Since then I’ve been able to travel the world and meet a lot of new friends. Throughout everything I can’t thank my mom enough for being behind me 110%. She was the one who would drive me to every single basketball practice, track meet, softball game, or BMX race. She was the one who would work on my bike for me at the BMX track just like all of the dads were doing for their sons. She was the one who would put streamers up in the hotel room at the BMX Grand Nationals in Oklahoma, because that race always happened to fall on my birthday. She’s the best!”

Being a close friend to Tara and her coach for the past two years, I can’t even begin to express just how incredible this girl is. As an athlete, she is a coach’s dream: a fierce competitor, dedicated, motivated, and upbeat in every way. Having to pull back the reins on how long or hard she’d train was my biggest chore. I can quite honestly say, I’ve met very few people in my life that are even remotely this driven. But her athleticism and competitive spirit are only a small part of what makes Tara the person she is. She is compassionate, grateful, and helpful to every person she comes across, always placing the wellbeing of others before her own. On more than one occasion, her actions, the way she lives her life, became my example to follow.

My friends in the industry, Tara needs our help. She’d certainly never ask for it herself, but I’m definitely not above seeking a little assistance for one of my dearest friends. T’s at the beginning of a long and costly road to recovery. Following her two week stay at the Denver Health Hospital, she will begin a six to seven week inpatient rehabilitation stay at the Craig facility, also in Denver Colorado. From there, she will travel back to her home in southern California and continue outpatient physical therapy. As you can imagine, there are a number of costs associated with the entire effort ranging from the immediate medical to rehabilitation, travel, communication, home wheelchair modifications, and so on. Through your generosity, we can make certain Tara receives every opportunity for the best care that can be afforded. To make a charitable contribution to Tara’s Road to Recovery Fund, please visit Contributions can be mailed, wired, credit card deposited, or taken directly to a Bank of America. Some account set-ups are still in the works, but immediate contributions can be mailed to:

Tara Llanes
Road to Recovery Fund
4068 Green Ave.
Los Alamitos, CA 90720

From the jungle of flowers in her room, number of texts, MySpace messages, and phone calls, I know Tara’s got some incredible friends and one of the most amazing support mechanisms anyone could hope for. She loves receiving your messages of support on her MySpace page at T and her family would like to express their sincerest thanks for your gifts, thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. We’d also like to send a special thanks to Ted Martin and the Jeep King of the Mountain Series group for immediately lending support towards travel and housing costs for Team Llanes, Travis Chipries at Giant Bicycles, Brian Hawkins with Giant for Women, Leah Garcia for brightening the room with her laugh and positive energy, and all the other sponsors, industry friends, and publications who have agreed to lend their support and spread the word about the Road to Recovery Fund. Tara is deeply grateful.

For major corporate/sponsor contributions to the Tara Llanes Road to Recovery Fund, please contact Tara’s Mom, Barbara Llanes at 714-322-9055.

Information on Tara’s progress will be made available on her MySpace page daily.

For media related inquiries, please contact me at james @

Thank you.

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About Snake

Tucson, Arizona, USA

6 Replies to “Scary shit”

  1. Saw this happened a couple days ago and it shook me. Tara’s been on the circuit a long time and she rips…spoke to her years ago at a NORBA Nat in Seven Springs..she was way cool. My heart goes out to her and all that surround her.

  2. …sending love & strength out to tara & her coach, james…

    …i’m a big wuss when it comes to this kinda thing… but like snake was for jonny & james is for tara, the importance of friends being there for ya, cannot be underestimated…

    …had my own little episode w/ the ‘incentive spirometer’, heart related, & i’m not ashamed to say i had a tear in my eye for every friend who came to visit me in the hospital…

    …i can honestly say i never once shed a tear feeling sorry for myself…you think to yourself, “you guys give me so much fucking strength, by caring & i am so grateful that i’m gonna show ya i can deal w/ this and overcome it”…

    …and you do… ask jonny or anybody who’s been on the drip w/ some serious shit to deal with…

    …the first time i rode to the top of mt tam, less than a year later, i carried every one of those well wishing friends with me, in spirit…& ya, it was emotional when i got to the top…i’m man enough to deal w/ bein’ a wuss…

    ..anyway, send out some love to tara & family & even shout it out in an e-mail cuz if ya don’t know, it does make a difference…

  3. My thoughts and well wishes go out to Tara and her family.

    I turn my pedals for you..

    Get well soon!

  4. Snake, Yeah I know first hand too. When my son was 18 yrs. old, the cops showed up at my house with his KHS “Bitch”, a broken helmet, and a shirt and gloves, all covered in blood. He appologized, and gave me a # to call. They answered the phone:”TRAMA CENTER” Then they told me to get there as fast as I could. When I walked in I almost collapsed!!! It was a freeride stunt gone horribly wrong, and I could do nothing! they told me that the head injuries and two broken wrists were not of concern as much as his right elbow which was totolly f’n destroyed!! Then they said amputation was not out of the question until they could open him up and determine the extent of the nerve damage. That didn’t even phase me cause I just wanted my boy to live. He did, and thanks to countless surgeries,rehab and a Titanium Radial Head in his elbow, he is living well at 23. Now for my main point: My son and I are putting on a “Race for Tara” benifit race here in Nor-Cal. We have the venue and all the Norba shit taken care of. Nov. 17th. 2007 is the date rain or shine. James knows about it and says Tara is “deeply moved” We will have a website up in a few days and we have recieved tremmendus support from local pro’s and industry people as well. We have a Slalom and downhill BMX track and depending on the weather, we will probably be running a four-cross event with all proceeds going to Tara’s “Road to recovery” Fund. We even have the local BBQ guys showing up with Tri-Tip,Ribs,chicken etc. So the food available will be first rate.We have several sponsors that want to set up booths and raffle off bike shit and give the proceeds to the fund as well.I will keep James posted and please spread the word.The more people the better. You can contact me at this address, or my Son Brian @ I too have followed Tara’s career since the cross over from BMX and feel compelled to do something.The downhill scene was starting to get boring, and riders like Tara,Cheri Elliot,April Lawyer and Katrina Miller brought alot of entertainment and incredible talent to our sport at that time.My heart and prayers go out to her, her friends and family. I had no fucking idea it would get this much attention. The track is at Sand Hill Ranch ( they have plenty of room for an event like this. I started racing Moto-Cross there in the seventies, and they are great people. Warm regards, Thayne M. Bolin.