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The Inevitable Crash

Posted by on November 24, 2013

When you’re riding a bike, it’s inevitable you’re going to run into a situation in which you’ll end up crashing.

I had thought it would have been an almalgam of all my falling overs starting out with clipless pedals, but yesterday I had one heck of a crash.

My ride started out as a normal ride. I had intended to make a nice long 2 1/3 to 3 hour weekend endurance ride. When I left the house I had to tell my wife that it was going to be longer than the 2 hour ride that she wanted me to take (the guilt/resentment factor was pretty heavy), while I was hoping to put in a good 45-50 miles today.

I really hadn’t made up my mind until I didn’t turn left to go onto the Custis trail, so I figured I was going to go to Mount Vernon and back, which given the wind direction and speed, would mean that any time I was to pick up would be on the “to” section and not on the “from” section, so I was riding fairly steady along the W&OD.

There were a fairly good amount of people out on the trail that day, even with the cold and wind. I was doing my best to be a nice guy on a bike; calling my passes, slowing down behind folks as to not cause any kind of issues with oncoming people on bikes. Smiles and “no problems” are the name of the game.

At the light at the W&OD and Columbia Pike, I mentioned to a couple guys who were still waiting for the walk signal that if no one pushes the walk button, the signal never changes.

I was riding in the drops, because it was cold and that would keep the wind off my chest. I had eschewed the Showers Pass rain jacket for an extra baselayer, but was wearing the lobster gloves, an my brand new toe covers, a long sleeve base layer, my new knickers, and a double layer of socks.

I caught the last 4 seconds of the cross walk timer going across George Mason Drive on the W&OD and was back up to cruising speed, when I approached the intersection right by the Barcroft Sports and Fitness center right by Phoenix Bikes.


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I had stopped pedaling and was coasting when I looked to see if there was anytone looking to make a turn, which there was. A green Jeep Wrangler was in the process of making a turn. I’m pretty sure she didn’t see me, and even though I had the right of way with the walk signal, she was turning left.

I reached up from the drops to squeeze the brakes because I knew it would be to my benefit to slow my speed. I have read many occurances where people have died from being left/right hooked, and all that went through my mind as I pulled on the brake levers… Just a bit too hard.

I knew I was going to crash now, and it was going to be me over my handle bars. Having learned from a minor fall before, it was better to keep your hands in and take the brunt of the force on your shoulder or your back, than to brace your faill with your hand and arm. And I also tucked my head a bit, expecting to fully face plant if I didn’t, so to take it on my helmet and not my face. I closed my eyes.

I opened them again after rolling at least once, and caught the sight of my bike skidding across the intersection behind the Jeep. Which in my dazed moment of thinking made me realize I would have run smack dab into the Jeep had I not gone over the bars.

I got to a sitting position, at which point in time my lower back decided it was going to assert itself as the chief of pain. My left shoulder, realizing it was no match for my back, resigned itself to just a mere reminder of “Hey, you did something, but man, you’re back’s a JackHole and won’t let me speak.”. My head throbbed a bit, and my hands, rejoicing in not being broken and busted, registered a mere “ow”.

My glasses had fled my face; they wanted no involvement in this at all and tried their best to make their way across the street.

So at that point in time when I regained enough of my senses to not move and not take my helmet off, I was innundated with questions from the 3-4 folks that had congregated around me. A very friendly cyclist rolled up just after, and asked me some basic concussion style questions. I knew who I was, and I didn’t bite my tongue, and after a brief inspection with it, I also knew I still had all my teeth.

Someone had called 911, and just as I went to take a swig from my water bottle, she said something about not drinking anything. So I tried to tastefully find a place to empty the mouthfull of Scratch Labs Apple/Cinnamon that was tasty in my mouth, out onto the pavement.

The woman who was driving the jeep at least offered me her jacket to keep me warm, but wrapped up in all my kit, I was quite warm, but my back hurt bad.

Someone brought my bike from out of the street, and by the direction of the saddle, I knew it hit pretty hard. I also saw a piece of white plastic on the ground, which worried me that I might have totally destroyed my frame, until I looked and saw it was from one of my water bottle holders.

Very quickly the local fire department showed up. I was still sitting down, as I didn’t want to do anything without proper instruction.

The FD EMT asked me questions, which I believe I answered correctly.. “What Day is it? What’s my name? Where am I? Who is the President?” Eventually he helped me up, and I sat on the back of the pumper truck. But my back thought I wasn’t giving it enough attention, so it went and tried to jump out of my jersey to let me know it was boss. Ow. Though at this point a silent migrane wanted to join in on the fun. Just a little odd crap in my field of vision, but no pain.

Eventually the paramedics showed up, and again the same questions: pain in my back, my shoulder, and just a bit in my head. I walked over and climbed into the bus, strapped into the gurney, and settled down for the ride to the hospital. my bike got a ride too, but I realized that my Bikenetic water bottle took off to environs unknown. I won that for participating in the Felix 24 race, and now it’s gone.

The entire ride to the hostpical was agony. Every bit of bad road surface shot pain through my lower back, and no matter which combination of bracing myself up or down or forward or back, it hurt.

Thankfully the ride ended; my first ride ever in an Ambulance. The EMT sitting with me is also a cyclist, though he lives in Montgomery county; what a crappy commute then.

At the hospital I had a very good nurse practitioner, and nurse.

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I got scheduled for an xray on my back and shoulder, and was fine for my head, no concussion, just a headache. So an Ibuprofein and a percoset, But no, these never seem to dull the pain quick enough; getting the exrays was quite painful. It was quite nasty trying to 1) hold my breath, and 2) lay flat, and 3) move around to lie on my side and 4) hold my arm just so. Ow.

My wife and daughter showed up just before I was carted off for the xrays. When I came back, my daughter was quite happy to see me and wanted to help daddy feel better.

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This was one of the few times that she wanted to cuddle with her daddy.

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Right bfore the nurse came to dress my shoulder and head, I wanted to see what the damage was:

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What you can’t see is that I’ve got a couple lumps in my hairline shaped exactly like the lines in my helmet.

Eventually the percoset and ibuprofein started to dull the pain in my back, and after an hour, I was discharged with no broken bones.

The emergency room nice guy liason Frank helped me take my bike out to the entrance way, and we chatted while I wated for my wife and daughter to come around in the truck… When “BANG”… It seems that my tire had come out of the rim, and eventually popped my tube. Wheee…

We got home, and on the couch I sat for a while.

So today I took a bit of an inventory of things.

My helmet… you can see where I scraped it, and busted it in a couple of places:
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And my shoes… and my BRAND NEW toe covers, and I mean I just got them 2 hours earlier:

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And lastly… the bike. Ugh.

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…Scrape on the left arm of the front fork. Hoods pretty much destroyed. Scrapes on my brake levers, scrape on the right chain stay, broken water bottle cage, and who knows what might be wrong with the saddle stem…

Oh and me… (might want to stop scrolling here….

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The two bruises here are the two ends of my bike pump, that I carry in my back pocket… Which pretty much destroyed my favourite jersey:

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And then… My shoulder.

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So, a day later, my back is still sore, but my shoulder doesn’t hurt that much, but I’m sore in my back still.

I stopped by Freshbikes today and picked up a new helmet at the urging of my wife and affirmation of my friend Pete.

I just can’t help but think that 3 seconds before, or 3 seconds later, and this would never have happened.

Throughout this, I feel incredibly blessed. Things could have been much worse than what happened. I’ve had friends break collarbones, wrists, lose teeth, etc. Everything triggered basically the least harmful physically to me that could have happened. Someone is watching over me, and I thank God for the apparent severity of my crash.

But… I can’t wait to get back out on my bike, but first I need to bring it into Freshbikes to get things repaired :/

–Pete

One Response to The Inevitable Crash

  1. jmortson

    Peter – so glad you’re OK. Stars were in alignment. Had you not reacted so quickly….