They say that when it comes to having an accident on the bike, it isn’t not a matter of if it is a matter of when. This weekend was my first “when”.
The day started out full of omen (slipping on my buddy’s stairs and falling down in my cleats) and then he did the same. Wet leaves can be very treacherous! In the process of my slip and slide down a flight of stairs, I lost my glasses. When I fell they flew off my head and went in to a black hole nearby. I still don’t know where they went.
Not wanting to be late for the ride, we rolled out, me without eye protection. It was our first ride with this group, so we were both apprehensive. We rolled out at a moderate pace of 18mph or so, each taking turns at the front of the paceline. It was only a few miles in that the pace increased to 20+ and the hills started. After a brief but steep hill, I was off the back by about 50′ trying to get my heart rate down below 180. I knew I could easily catch back up, and that a downhill was coming up. The pack went out of sight over the ride and I laid down the hammer to catch up. Down the hill and around a curve, now pushing 30mph I saw a very cagey turn approaching. It was a shady, damp two lane road, with a down hill left turn, but the lane was almost covered in wet leaves. I hit the brakes a little to slow down before the turn and I immediately felt the back wheel slide about a foot left and right. Knowing that I needed to slow down, I eased up on the back brakes, applied evenly to the front as well, but now the bike was wobbling like a drunken sailor and I knew I had lost control of the bike. I fixed my eyes on the far bank of dirt of the turn hoping to ditch there.
I didn’t make it. About five feet from the edge of the road the bike laid down beneath me. I remember hitting the ground. I slid for a while and then I think a tumble, and then I was off the road facing the other way. I saw a car coming around the corner and pulled myself off the road, quickly dragging my bike with me as the car passed within inches of running over my fallen steed.
I slowly did an inventory of everything that hurt. Nothing seemed broken, but my shoulder hurt, my hip felt like it had been hit with an anesthetic, and my neck started to stiffen up almost immediately. I picked up my water bottles that went in two different directions and then my bike and realized that the front wheel was bent badly enough that it wouldn’t turn, even with the brakes all the way open.
I walked down the hill a few feet to get off of the blind curve and sat on a rock wall to consider my next action. My buddy called my cell to see why I hadn’t caught up yet (sometimes I drop back but am back in the pack pretty quickly). I told him I went down in a bad turn and that I wasn’t riding. He came racing back. He called his wife and insisted that I go to the hospital.
The hospital dressed my wounds (mostly road rash, some cuts and blood, etc) and X-Rayed my shoulder. Nothing broken. Phew! After the hospital I took the bike straight to the shop. The bike is the important part of this story, right? On the surface, aside from the front wheel, and some cosmetic scratches (and a sizable chip in the carbon near the steerer tube) the bike “seemed” ok. The shop is going to pull apart the head tube and ensure that nothing is bent or out of whack.
In the mean time, today is the dreaded “day after”. My shoulder hurts badly enough that I was glad to know that it isn’t broken. Without the X-Rays, I would think that something was. Bandages and Neosporin for the cuts and road rash, a sling for the shoulder and meds for the rest of the pain. The hip, shoulder and arms are all road rashed, and the amount of bruising and swelling is enough to keep my movement limited.
The good news is that it could have been worse. Much worse. It is an accident I can walk away from (or limp at least). Here’s to a speedy recovery for both me and my bike!