Flying face first onto chipsealMay 13 2015 · 0 comments · Juniors, Miscellaneous ·2
I’ve lost count of all the highsides, lowsides and endos on my cyclocross and mountain bikes. All that’s lost is maybe a little skin and possibly some bar tape. Not a big deal. After a few days the memory of the crash becomes vague and joins the memory montage of hitting the dirt with a thud and a grunt before dusting myself off and continuing on my way.
These accidents have always occurred on dirt though, and never asphalt, which I thought about as we pedaled along on a windy but otherwise pleasant Sunday a few weeks ago. Funny how well my road bike always works, I thought to myself, yet my ‘cross bikes and my mountain bikes are always in the shop. Oh, duh, I never crash this bike. And with that I rubbed wheels with the bike in front of me and went flying face first onto the chipseal at 35 miles per hour.
There are three stages of a crash: Realization, impact and assessment. My realization came when I heard my tire rub with the wheel ahead, and felt the bars jerk up and to the right. The impact was surprisingly blunt and relatively pain free. I’ve noticed that in the hardest race efforts, when my heart rate crosses some magical threshold well into the 190s, the pain stops and is replaced by a dull numbness, as if my body is saying You need to know you’re in pain, but it’s bad enough that we’re not going to let you feel it. I think the something similar happened when I hit the ground. This became apparent at the onset of the third stage, assessment. I began the mental checklist: Legs: Ok, I can feel them. Definitely moveable. Arms: Moveable. OW. Take that back. Right arm moveable, left arm not so much. Face: Wait. Why can’t I feel my face? At this point I could see the little bright colored dots up the road slowing and turning back toward me. As the group began to congregate around me and my very broken bike (note the irony given my train of thought just a few seconds earlier) my first question was “Hey, guys, is there anything on my face? It feels weird.” That is to say, it didn’t feel like much of anything. It was only when I took out my phone and put the camera in selfie mode that I saw what was going on.
The realization that I definitely had something on my face led to a wave of nausea, so as I lay in the ditch trying not to puke,the community that is Team Rockford sprung into action, calling a car to come haul me to Urgent Care and my bike to the shop so that both could get some very needed care. I ended up with eight stitches in my face and several new battle scars which ensured I would stick to my sheets for several days to come. Upon arriving to Urgent Care we were informed that I got to go straight back to the exam room so as to avoid scarring any of the children in the waiting room. Judging by the looks they gave me as I walked past though, I’m afraid I may have dissuaded a few kids from becoming bike racers.
Once I had waddled into my house and planted myself on the couch with a box of Advil and fresh bandages within reach, I reached the conclusion that I am by and large very lucky. First, I didn’t break any bones, and only had one major cut. Second, I showed no signs of even a minor concussion. Third, I was the only rider to go down, very lucky considering multiple bodies and bikes hitting the pavement (and each other) could have easily doubled or tripled the carnage. Finally, I am lucky to be part of such a great team. A special thanks to John and Ryan, who stayed with me while I got my face sewn up and then drove me to home (where I was the only one home by the way, since my parents were both out of town. Last time that’ll happen for a while).
I made good use of those photos too. The post-crash selfie became my most popular Instagram post ever, and produced an onslaught of concerned comments, texts and phone calls. One of those comments was from our own Jeff Wyatt, El Jefe and Commander in Chief of Team Rockford. It read “You’re officially part of the club now. You’ll get used to it.” I found the last sentence somewhat ominous, as it implied that this incident would happen again. But hey, I lasted three years, 9000 miles, and a couple hundred rides before it happened, so I’ll take my chances.