The Wrist of It

Just a little wrist pun humor to start off this post, in which I’m posting a delightful photo timeline of my wrist recovery. The color changing my injuries went through was just so darn interesting.

Mistakes were made
Day 1: Injury inflicted.
Mistakes Were Made - 4 Days Later
Day 3: After painting; with Tegaderm bandage
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Day 4: Bandage-free!
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Day 5: Colorful knuckles
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Day 6: Slowly fading colors and less swelling
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Day 8: Bruise draining down my forearm. Gross.
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Day 10: After a 100-mile bike ride. Held up well.

From here on out I think it’s just taking ibuprofen occasionally and not doing anything stupid.

I don’t think I mentioned it, but my left leg seems to have gotten some kind injury during the crash, too. Every ride I’ve done since then, my leg has output a little less power, has felt a little weaker and more sore, and has occasionally been accompanied by foot tingling or soreness. I’ve asked a few friends if they think I should be worried, and universally they’ve said it was almost certainly some internal swelling, pull, or other injury caused by the crash, and that time would take care of it. So I’m trying not to let the fact it’s my surgery leg freak me out and instead just wait patiently. Time will tell. Continue Reading >>

Mistakes Were Made

On Wednesday I went out for my usual longer hill ride, happily appreciating that the morning rain had cleared early enough for roads to dry so I could ride my S-Works.

Long story short: Waiting at a small intersection to go south across a busy, high-speed road, I miscalculated the speed of traffic and rode my bike into a car.

It wasn’t exactly T-boning the car, although at higher speeds that’s what would have happened. Instead I had been stopped and just started rolling at a speed I thought would let the vehicle pass, but somehow the vehicle didn’t pass — it was right there when I got into the road. I slammed on my brakes and swerved, but the side of the vehicle (a black Toyota SUV) loomed really large ahead of me. I thought my front tire brushed the side of the car and the next thing I knew I was on the ground behind the vehicle. Continue Reading >>

Slippery Cycling

Yesterday we enjoyed one of the few genuinely dry days in a month of endlessly drippy skies. In the evening heavy rain fell, but overnight the skies briefly cleared, temperatures dropped, and all that wetness started freezing.

As I mentioned earlier, Saturday I spent with the family at MoPOP, a day very well spent. To get in my biking, I’d arranged to skip church on Sunday and join a Cascade ride led by a friend of mine. I knew I couldn’t keep up with the pace for long — the first hill would likely eliminate me — but that’s the pace I used to ride, and my goal is to get back there for this summer. There’s nothing like riding with faster people to get faster. Continue Reading >>

On Mercer Island, Bike Crashes are Ticketable Offenses, Apparently

Day’s Verse:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.

1 Cor 13:4-ish

It was bound to happen sometime: On a group ride yesterday, there was a crash. Three riders went down, but fortunately I was not among them. I just started to write a detailed description of what happened, but I’ll just summarize, since the details aren’t that important:

We were riding in a loose paceline with a good amount of space between us, because we were on a very curvy stretch of road. I was towards the back. Riders 1, 2, and 3 were just ahead of me, with the ride leader ahead of them. As we went around a corner, Rider 1 (two bikes ahead of me) slipped and fell; we still don’t know why he went down. Rider 2 (one bike ahead of me) promptly ran into him and went flying over his handlebars. Rider 3 (directly ahead of me) slammed on his brakes and crashed, but didn’t hit anybody. I had time to see the crash happen and react safely — I honestly don’t remember what I did, but it was some combination of steering and stopping. I just remember tossing my bike on the side of the road and running to check the damage to my buddies.

Rider 2 got up fairly quickly, but Riders 1 and 3 stayed on the ground for a while. We established that Rider 3 hadn’t hit anybody, and he seemed okay, but he took a little while to recover and get up. Rider 1 we kept on the ground, because he reported head and neck pain in addition to stomach pain from where Rider 2’s front wheel had run into his stomach — ouch! We called 911.

Then we waited, the ride leader taking care of the guys who’d crashed, while me and the other uninjured rider (who was behind me) directed traffic around the blind curve. This was actually fairly important, as Rider 1 remained in the road, and cars couldn’t see anything until they were right on top of us. We used the familiar “car up” and “clear” to communicate and it worked very well.

The Medic One aid car arrived after a few minutes. They checked everybody out, talked to Rider 1, and started the process of putting him on a backboard preparatory to moving him. They patched up Riders 2 and 3, too, and then waited around for an ambulance to move Rider 1 to the hospital. Rider 2 called his wife, who picked him up and took him to the hospital, too. Rider 3 suffered bruising and some road rash, but he and his bike were okay to go.

A Mercer Island police officer arrived after a while and he started asking what we’d seen. He took my information, as I was the only one who’d actually seen the whole thing firsthand. Then he warned us that Riders 1 and 2 could both receive moving violations for their bike handling failures, because they were operating as vehicles on the roadway. That’s right: In addition to paying craploads of money for medical care and bike/gear repair & replacement, and having weeks of agonizing bruises (if not worse injuries), Riders 1 and 2 could actually be ticketed, too. The cop said that Rider 1 was “driving” too fast for the conditions, if he couldn’t control his bike at that speed; and Rider 2 was following too close if he wasn’t able to stop without a collision. The cop seemed irritated that we’d had this crash on his road, and mentioned all the paperwork for such a minor collision. He also mentioned, almost wistfully, that if this had happened on the I-90 bike trail, it would be a whole different story. Well, too bad, buddy. We were on the road, and you get paperwork.

Eventually we split up. The Medic One aid car took Rider 1 off to some ER. Rider 2 and the ride leader waited for Rider 2’s wife. Rider 3 and I headed back home. I kept an eye on him the whole time, and he seemed okay. Later we found out that Rider 1 “only” suffered from bangs and scrapes. Rider 2 — the guy who went over his handlebars — came off the worst: He fractured his collarbone. He has a one-week-old baby at home, too, which I imagine will add to the fun of recovery.

So that was the first significant crash I’ve witnessed on the road. It shook me up. I wasn’t immediately involved, thank goodness, but it wouldn’t have been difficult for me to be Rider 1 or 2. A different ride order, is all it would’ve taken. As the cop pointed out: Everything has risk. Riding in a paceline on a curvy, damp road is risky. We accept that, and usually it’s fine. I’m grateful I wasn’t in the crash, but if I had been, I’ve accepted that as part of riding — the benefits of riding outweigh those dangers. Even so, I’m feeling a little twitchy about group riding.

Crash Update

Day’s Verse:
So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.
2 Thessalonians 2:15-17

First of all, thank you to all the well-wishers leaving comments on my blog and Facebook. Your concern is very touching.

Second of all, I have all sorts of exciting (for some values of exciting) news on the crash front. At the adamant urging of my parents and all my coworkers, I went to the doctor. I had felt sleepy after the crash, had a headache all yesterday, and woke up feeling dizzy and nauseous, a feeling that didn’t really go away during my commute in.

Not surprisingly, the doctor diagnosed me with a mild concussion. This is the first time I’ve had any notable injury from crashing.

She then instructed me absolutely not to ride a bike until I felt better, although I could drive “because then you’re protected being surrounded with all that metal.” The objection to biking wasn’t a concern about exertion, as far as I could tell, but because I’m “out of it” and therefore less likely to make good decisions. Great, so I’m not safe enough to ride my bike — where I’d probably only harm myself — but I’m safe enough to drive a car and potentially harm lots of other people?! Worst doctor advice ever. (I’d taken the bus there, but rode my bike against her orders from the doctor’s office to my house, 3.18 miles, without trouble.)

Apparently if I experience any other symptoms like increased dizziness, headache, or vomiting, I should immediately panic and go to the ER because that could be bleeding in my brain. Well, she didn’t say the panic part, but that was kind of implicit.

Unfortunately I am well enough to work (something I had already figured out, having successfully ridden 21 miles to work and then completed half a workday before leaving), but I also have to keep on the ibuprofen, drink lots of water and get lots of electrolytes (“padding for my brain,” which is apparently sloshing around all the time and needs extra fluids right now), and avoid smacking myself in the head again.

I should be better by Monday or sooner. The doctor said, “If you’re Superman, you could wake up tomorrow and be perfectly fine to ride.” Then she looked at me and added, “And it sounds like you might be, considering the crash and how you came out of it.” On the theory that I’m Superman, I spent the afternoon in the back yard soaking up some sun and avoiding kryptonite.

Third of all, regarding the fork, the people who built the original are going to build me a replacement. They’re also going to give me a refund on the original. So in the end I should get something like $400 cash and a new fork. Sadly, I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel totally comfortable using the beautiful new fork, after this experience. Should I just scratch the new fork idea and take the $400 and go? I’m not sure. My decision-making faculties do seem to have their wires crossed right now. I value any and all input.

Another Crash

Day’s Verse:
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-7

Crashed again. Fine again. Front fork totaled again.

I emailed a description to myself. Here it is.

At 6:45 am on Wednesday, September 29, I was riding south on Market Street in Kirkland behind another bicyclist. I moved out of the bike lane and into the going-straight lane, fairly close behind the other bicyclist. The other bicyclist abruptly turned to the right while I continued straight, causing me to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting him. I don’t think I hit him; he stayed upright, while I immediately crashed, falling on my left side. Examination of my bike at the time indicated that the front fork had bent severely at the brake dropout, and the front fender had been bent as well. It appeared that the fork bent under the strain of braking. Fortunately, I had panniers on the bike, and they absorbed the shock and protected me from any injury other than bruising.

I consulted Chad at Pedal Dynamics and Chris at JRA Bike Shop, and both agreed that the fork failure was a manufacturing/design defect. Damage to the bike includes the front fork, the fender, the tire (which was sliced), and my helmet, which hit the ground hard when I fell. My next step is to go back to the manufacturer and see what they’ll do for me. Continue Reading >>