Crash! Bang! Boom!

September 15, 2008 at 4:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

They say there are two kinds of cyclists — those who’ve crashed, and those who have yet to crash.  I’ve now joined the former.

Last Saturday, September 6, I was about six weeks into training.  And it had gone pretty well.  The gears and the shifting was getting more understandable.  I was better able to make the distinction between some important concepts —

  • The goal isn’t to go fast uphill.  You should keep the same cadence, or rate of the pedals going around.  They aren’t the same.  I had been trying to power my way up the hills.  Doesn’t work well.
  • While going the same cadence is the goal, it’s not a realistic goal on really tough hills.  You may be pedaling really slowly on the steepest hills.  And that’s okay.   You’re still going up.

Funny, when Lance Armstrong is going uphills, it looks differently.  But I’m not quite Lance just yet.

So that Saturday, we had a 30 mile ride that had some pretty tough hills east of San Francisco, around San Pablo Dam near Orinda.  They call the ride “The Three Bears.”  The bears, as you might guess, were three pretty tough hills.

I did really well — I was learning the lessons above (the hard way at times), but I did make it up.   The last one was the toughest — they call it “Papa Bear.”  I did freak out a bit on the descent — very steep decent.  I’m not a wild risk taker in a lot of ways, and speed I have to work up to.  So I did it, but it was kinda freaky.

But the Crash! Bang! Boom! wasn’t on the Three Bears, or the descent.

Just as I had finished the last of the descent, and came upon the straightaway that went on about a quarter mile, the road curved and came to a small bridge over a creek.  Right at the edge of the bridge was a fairly large pothole.  I wasn’t nearly going as fast as I was on the descent on Papa Bear, but I was going fast enough to lose control after I hit it.

Apparently, I fell forward, crashed on the handlebar, and skidded a bit down the, uhm, concrete bridge.  At a pretty good speed.  Just to be clear, I wasn’t injured much at all — nothing broken, etc.

I was a little dazed at first.  I was riding with a coach at the time, and he was TERRIFIC.  He was really supportive, cleaned me up, got the SAG (Support and Gear) team vehicle to stop with a first aid kit.  We got the bike into the truck and we went  back to the start.

Here I am, at that moment (someone in Team in Training always seems to have a camera around, particularly for these kinds of moments).  I didn’t look that bad.  At that point, a really bad road rash scrape on the elbow (note the really dark circle on the bottom of the elbow) and on the knee.

And the bike wasn’t that badly hurt either — mainly just the handlebars.  The frame is thought to be OK — it’s at the bike shop for a check.

So that was on Saturday.  The coaches warned me the road rash scrapes would look and get worse over the next few days.  And it did.

Here’s what the knee and elbow looked like by Wednesday:

Note particularly the bruises on the upper leg.  The bike shorts covered that, so no road rash like the knee.  Also, check out the yellow circle in the middle of the bruise.  From what I can tell, that part of the thigh hit the rounded end of the handlebar right there as I went down.  That area was depressed on my skin on Saturday after the accident, prior to the bruising.

Here’s another bruise that showed up a few days later, on my abdomen just below my navel:

This one I love.  It looks like that large spot that you see in pictures of the planet Jupiter, the hurricane on the surface of the planet.  I didn’t even feel it during the crash or after, and yet it showed up.  I’ve been using it to show people, picking up my shirt and showing it off like LBJ did with his appendectomy scar (if you’re old enough to remember that).

None of the bruises ever hurt.  The road rash, oh, that’s a different story.

The worst was at night.  Even with it bandaged up, the road rash would tingle, itch and sting.  It wasn’t terrible, but it would wake me up at night.  I was reminded that the road rash is, well, where the concrete had scraped off a couple layers of skin, and nerve endings were exposed.  So the tingling is normal and part of the healing process.

But compared to other options — broken bones, other internal injuries, I’ll take it.

The bike is in the shop for a week, and I’ve taken off a few days of training to heal up.  I’ll be ready to start up after that.


1 Comment »

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  1. Gregg,
    Wow! Look at those pictures, I love it! Great job and way to get back on the bike! What a blessing to see bruises and know exactly where they came from, am I right? Riding a bike is hard enough but riding a bike in San Francisco with all those hills is like trying to read with the lights off. Way to go, I admire your strength! Keep on climbing.

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