Down. Hard.

Yesterday I had the experience we all dread, but secretly know is inevitable. Yesterday I crashed.

And let’s be clear, I didn’t just crash, I crashed spectacularly.

I was on Ocean Blvd heading south on my way back home, on the downward side of about 40 miles. I had a tailwind going, so heading back home I was riding into a headwind. The only way I really deal with a headwind is to hunker down, grab the drops, try to keep my profile low and work through it. It’s tough, but it’s a nice opportunity to… I dunno… “conquer” something. You get a nice little sense of satisfaction for muscling your way through a good headwind and it makes for a nice little moment of triumph when you get home and tell yourself you didn’t let a headwind whip your ass.

So I’m head down, looking ahead, keeping a nice straight line and maintaining a nice, consistent 18-19 mph. Heart’s chugging along and my legs feel great.

Then I see him.

He’s in my front “periphery”. I can see him ahead of me, and he’s stepping out into the street. Of course, there’s no crosswalk. This kid’s thinking that this particular place is as good as any and makes the fateful decision to step out in front of me and cross Ocean Blvd.

I have exactly enough time to think, “well shit, I’m gonna kill this guy, and myself too…” and I slammed into him going about 19 mph.

My right shoulder contacted the leading edge of his body and that was all she wrote. The impact threw me sharply to the left and over the handlebars, landing on my left shoulder and skidding about 25 feet before coming to a stop… still clipped in, bike on top of me, adding to my momentum. Both gloves completely shredded, although I don’t actually remember putting my hands down. Helmet’s untouched, miraculously, and on first glance it looks like my hands and upper body… well, from the waist up… took most of the impact.

My left shoulder is fucked. Initially, I’m completely convinced I’ve broken my collarbone because it’s beyond painful to do anything. Move. Inhale. Blink. Exhale. For a brief minute I panic. This seems bad. “What does a broken rib feel like?” Elbow’s bleeding (and let me remind you… anti clotting agents…) it won’t stop, and the amount of blood that’s dipping off my arm is a little alarming. It slowly dawns on me that I can feel the breeze on my knee, and a quick glance down confirms that, of course, it’s bleeding too. So a quick assessment results in the following list: Left shoulder is totally fucked and as a result my left arm is completely limp and useless. The only thing stopping my hands from bleeding all over my handlebars is the remnants of my gloves that are wicking the blood away from the exposed wounds. I’m not sure that I haven’t broken a rib on my left side, but it’s a close call, because I still can seem to inhale without passing out. My left knee is hamburger, and my left hip has suddenly swollen to the size of a grapefruit.

Thankfully all of that can heal. The bike was my immediate concern (I know, right?) and I seem to have dodged a bullet. The only damage I can see is that the impact knocked my handlebars to the left, offsetting them slightly, and my right shifter’s got some minor cosmetic scratches along the bottom of the brake handle, and along the top of the hood.

I think I can speak for anyone else who rides a bike when I say that the only thing I was concerned with, and my immediate first thought was, “please don’t let anything happen to my bike…”

So I limped home. I ate a handful of Ibuprofen, took a shower and settled in for a night that seemed to redefined pain and discomfort. Seriously, I actually had heart surgery a couple months ago and that felt like a walk in the park compared to this. It’s a little more than 24 hours later, and my bruises have bruises, it still hurts to breath, and my left arm is completely useless. I can’t recall the last time I cried from pain, but I think I came close this morning when I decided to put on a shirt. This hurts.

But you know. Shit happens. I’m not gonna sweat it. I’ll take a couple of days off, soak in some hot baths for the next couple of days (praise the almighty Salt of Epsom!), and eat Ibuprofen like Tic Tacs. It’ll get better.

I’ll take replacing some gloves and working through some bruises any day over replacing carbon fiber.

Seems like a perfect time to try Yoga, right?

10 Replies to “Down. Hard.”

    1. Honestly, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure he got the worse of it, after all, he got hit out of the blue by a 175 pound object traveling almost 20 mph. I would be surprised if I didn’t break his shoulder/arm. I body checked him pretty hard. I was pissed off that he stepped off the curb in the middle of the street without even bothering to look and I didn’t feel much like debating him at that point. The bike’s okay. That’s all that matters, right?

    1. I know, that’s kind of how I felt. I knew it would happen. From the first day I brought that bike home, I feared nothing more than the inevitable damage that would occur when it finally went down. It always felt like playing the odds. If I was riding with a group it would’ve never happened and the one thought I had on the way home was, “well, that’s certainly one benefit of the peloton… visibility AND multiple sets of eyes…”.

      Lesson learned.

  1. Jeff, I say this with love: do not be a fool, and go see a doctor.

    When my husband crashed hard (also on his left shoulder) a few years ago, he “manned up” for about 72 hours, then when he finally went to see the Dr he required immediate surgery to put his shoulder back together; it was broken in three places.

    So, stop being a typical guy and just ****ing go.

    1. Thanks Rachel. I totally get it, and I’m right there with you. Fortunately it’s doing a lot better over the last 24 hours. I’ve had a lifetime of bad experiences with rotator cuff and left shoulder injuries, unfortunately, and I don’t doubt that at some point I’ll be having it rebuilt some way, but it looks like it’s going to be okay. My rubs hurt, but that’s most definitely bruising, as the gorgeous rainbow of color can attest.

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