Crash History

April 13, 2018 § Leave a comment

I fell off my bike again on Friday. This time the cause was an improperly seated tire, and comes only 4 1/2 months after the last time I fell. That was operator error, and I suppose this was as well, just a different kind of error. i have been very lucky throughout my life on the bike-accident rarely, if ever, falling off, even as people feel around me. Now rust I have had two incidents in less than half a year it makes think puff just what were all those incidents?

This is another post that I started many months ago that I am now revisiting and trying to finish out. Since this accident I have ridden another 2000 miles, and my shoulder hasn’t really returned to normal. I probably should have long ago made an Orthopedic appointment, and I may still. I fear there is something going on that will need some kind of undesired remedy, but I don’t need 4 years of undergraduate, and 3 years of graduate school to know that if it hasn’t gotten better by now, it will only get worse.

I mentioned that this falling-off-bike-incident was less than 5 months after the previous one where I was riding my fixed gear and made a fixed gear mistake. In case you don’t know what I am referring to, a fixed gear is a bike with no free-spinnable rear cogs. It’s basically a track-bike, but it does have brakes. The thing is you have to pedal all the time. There is no coasting. When your brain tells your legs to coast, the bike tells you legs, “No you don’t, keep pedaling”. It’s good training, and yes, I know I am almost 60, but as you well know, inside we are all still kids. I still race on the track, and riding the fixie, is good training for that. Hey, I won some races this year, so its still a lot of fun. Anyway, usually when you have the brain-bike tug-of-war you riding a straight line, looking straight, and well balanced on your bike, so when the bike wins the war, you have a “moment” but it isn’t a dangerous moment that comes with any consequences. This time, however, I wanted to make a left turn, so I was twisted to my left when my brain said “coast”, and when the bike said, “no”, THAT jolt led me to lose my balance and fall hard to the pavement. That hurt, a lot, and though I didn’t break anything, I was a little woozie. I cracked my helmet, so I certainly hit my head on the street. 3 blocks from home I was when this occurred, and by the time I started riding home again, I saw two police cruisers make a turn and come in my direction and I knew they were looking for me. We talked for some time, and I guess they were satisfied that I “seemed” well enough to go my own way.

Prior to that, it has been a long long time since my last falling-off-the-bike incident. In fact, that was May 2008, early May in the late afternoon I came home early to ride the hook with John Conway and friends. It was a weekly excursion, and on this day it was five of us, and it was windy, cold, and windy. The wind was out of the South, so getting off the hook was harder than getting on.

We were coming off the hook and taking turns. As stated is was a strong headwind, so most turns were short. At some point, I thought we had dropped someone and my turn came up again and I decided to keep it for a while, and I may have even upped the pace a little. I was doing fine, but decided it was time to pull out and fall back. This is when it started to break down. Just cause I pulled out doesn’t mean that someone was going to pull through. Not if they were simply giving it all just to hold my wheel. So I pulled back in and led some more, but eventually I needed a break, so I pulled out again. This is where the math broke down. Thinking that we had dropped someone, I looked over my left shoulder and saw 3 riders. 3 plus me plus dropped equals 5, and they were on my left, so in order for me to pull off and fall back I made the fateful decision to now pull off to the right.

That was where the bad math became a real reality because we had not dropped anyone, and Johnny Conway was doing the right thing and pulling up on my right to relieve me. So, here is how it played out. Johnny and I touched at a point where we were basically side-by-side. I was coasting, because I was trying to fall back, and Johnny was pedaling to pull through. It is important here to take a moment and educate the reader just what does it mean to ride a bike. It may be hard to remember those first times down the street when your parents were teaching you to ride, but you may have noticed that what you have to train your brain to do, is make all the micro adjustments that are necessary to balance on the moving two wheels. Once you get used to it, it seems very natural and you don’t even notice that you make these adjustments. You only get reminded of it when you lose the balance. That happens a lot when you ride a pace-line and you overlap someone’s wheel and suddenly there is a slowdown, and you are “adjusted” the wrong way and you almost lose it. Well, that is exactly what happened when I touched Johnny. I lost my balance and for the moment was supported by Johnny. Problem was I was slowing and Johnny was pedaling, so he moved forward, and I slid back, and once my support was gone, I fell into the curb.

At this point, coming off the hook we were riding about 20 mph maybe a little more. The body of land had narrowed as the bay came closer to the road, and there were erosion control boulders strewn on the other side of the curb. I fell onto the curb, on my right side, and continued to rotate about my central axis, so the bike came up in the air. I also twisted along an axis through my belly, and slid over some boulders before hitting a solid one with my left hip where I came to an immediate stop. I was facing due west head to toe, and my head was scrunched up against the back of the curb. My feet had unclipped from the pedals and my bike lay across me. I was very uncomfortable and I had very limited movement. I could “feel” discomfort, which was good, but I don’t think I thought about that at the time. I did wiggle my toes, which I did know was good. I was not paralyzed.

My friends took my helmet, and called 911 and we waited. While I sat there I watched the most beautiful sunset develop before me. It really was stunning. Eventually the EMS arrived, and assessed my situation. The fear, of course, was that I must have some sort of spinal injury, or if I didn’t, I could be just one wrong move from an injury, so they spent a lot of time assessing a plan. Eventually they through actions I could perform, they decided to take a chance, and moved me to a board, isolated me, and transported me to Monmouth Medical.

I could embellish this story with a lot of details about everything that happened afterwards, but for the sake of this narrative, let’s simply cut to the chase and acknowledge that I fractured my pelvis, spent a week in the hospital and then two in a therapy center, and then 3 weeks after that I through my leg over the top tube, and rode my bike again. 6 weeks after the falling-off-bike incident I was back on my bike.

Prior to this, I have been one very lucky bike rider. I have avoided all kinds of accidents in group rides, and in racing. I just seemed to have the luck and the bike handling skills to avoid disaster. To find my next real accident, you have to go all the way back to Brunswick Road when I was riding my Schwinn Collegiate across the street at the Kimberly academy. The parking lot was on a hill, and I was using the hill to gain speed and make a turn at speed. I had done it many many times, but on this day, it was just after a huge storm that washed debris downhill, and when I hit the turn, my wheels lost contact and I slid along the pavement and into the curb. I lost some skin, but nothing was broken. I got up and rode away, but that was more than 30 years prior to the broken pelvis.

As I write this, I can slide my tongue over the new crown on front upper left tooth. About 3 months ago the bonding on that tooth dissolved while I was eating some homemade sourdough. That bonding was applied when I was 16 or 17 to repair a chipped tooth I had gotten from my first two-wheeled bike when I lived in Cedar Grove, NJ. That was something like 1966 or there about. I was seven. So, chronologically, I hurt myself at seven, maybe thirteen, then not again until I was 49, then 58, and finally 59. Pretty damn lucky.

I hope I can avoid further crashes, because I am getting too old for it!!

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