My Worst Bike Crash

The last time I crashed really hard on a bike was the spring of ’96. I was mountain biking with some friends and didn’t see a gap created by the heavy rains. My friend bunny hopped it. I landed on it, went over the bars and slid on the right side of my body for several feet. I didn’t need to go to the hospital, but I remember inviting a couple of friends over to partake in a mini keg of Grolsch. And I didn’t wear skirts that summer because the road rash was so bad.

I had a pretty good streak going of no bad crashes – until last Sunday. I was just going out for an easy spin down by Todd’s place. I like going into this wilderness park where there’s a paved road to practice my aero position and take in the scenery without cars.

Four miles into my ride, I hit a pothole that I didn’t see. (Yes, I have crappy vision.) Usually I can recover from those bobbles, but not this time. My Garmin showed I was going 18.4 mph. I don’t remember the fall. But my Garmin said I took quite a bounce, crashing at 16.8 mph and sliding for 12 seconds. I got knocked out. I don’t think it was for very long. When I regained consciousness, I was surrounded by five strangers who wouldn’t leave my side until the paramedics got there. Apparently, I stopped my Garmin 1 minute and 50 seconds after impact. I don’t remember doing it. If I had been wearing this headband that I got at the Boston Marathon Expo, perhaps one of those kind people could’ve done it sooner. They kept saying, “I can’t believe you didn’t break your collarbone!”

Once I found out that I had been knocked out and saw my trusty Specialized Prevail helmet was cracked in two places, I knew I had to get checked out at the hospital. I’ve been writing about head injuries for the past 15 years for my rehab hospital client. I know you just can’t mess with them. The rush of adrenaline or shock that you get from impact kind of masks the pain. As the minutes ticked by, I wondered if maybe I broke something – my ribs hurt and my hip was swollen. The paramedics/firemen rode me, and my bike “Blaze,” out of the park. Todd’s brother, Ken, picked me up at the park entrance and drove me to the hospital. Ken is no stranger to bike accidents as you may recall. He’s broken his collarbone four times! And I was grateful he kept me company for three hours in the hospital. The folks at Mission Hospital were great. They gave me a CT scan, X-rays of my pelvis and ribs, a tetanus shot, and cleaned up my road rash. I had a mild concussion. The next day, I still felt shelled. I declined using the prescription for a painkiller. The last time I took one I had dreams of King Kong sleeping in the fetal position in my neighbor’s garage and strange little rat-a-saurus creatures with neon tails eating pineapple off my bedroom floor. No thanks! I opted for vodka and pomegranate juice instead. ☺

I thought recovering from this would be like getting over the soreness of a marathon or a half Ironman. Nope. I’m still incredibly sore on the right side of my body just over a week later. It still hurts to laugh.

With 11 bruises, my legs are like a mood ring, changing different colors every day. I have scrapes on my hip, elbow and shoulder that are healing well, but I wouldn’t dare take them for a dip in the pool. I still have a slight limp when I walk and it hurts to do little things that I normally wouldn’t think about like kicking the bottom sock drawer of my closet closed. Or rolling over in bed. I’m using my arms still to push myself up or ease myself down in bed because my ribs still ache so. Yesterday, I got on the trainer and spun my legs for 20 minutes. Getting on and off was the hardest part. Despite all of those complaints, the biggest overriding feeling I’ve had this week is joyous relief. I feel lucky it wasn’t much worse. I’m in tact. My life is in tact. I feel gratitude for the strangers that came to my aid and my honorary bro Ken. Grateful for my sister, Jane, coming over to help this week and changing my bandages, knowing she’s the most squeamish chick I know. There are such good people in my world.

My thoughts this weekend are with my blogger buddy, James Walsh, a phenomenal endurance athlete who got hit by a car this weekend going 50 mph. The driver hit another cyclist in his group as well. James suffered numerous broken bones and I can only imagine how uncomfortable he must be, if I’m hurting this much still without breaking anything. Please send positive vibes his way and cheer him on for a speedy recovery on Twitter at @jmwalsh2.