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Old 05-01-14, 10:38 AM   #1
robabeatle 
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Crashed Big Time: 4 broken bones, bruised ego (long post)

3/23/14 at a Crit in Phoenix. I decided to write this after reading ovoleg's story and countless others.

It has been a tough year for me. In late December, I broke my collarbone. Completely my fault. I was practicing sprints on my track bike when bam, I was on the ground dazed and confused. Turns out I broke my right cleat and came unclipped at the peak of my sprint. The cleats were quite old and needed to be replaced. Live and learn. Surgery had me on the trainer in three days but off the roads for ~6 weeks. This just at the beginning of the season here. As soon as I could get back out, I started racing. The first few weekends were road races and I struggled due to lack of long rides/endurance. About 9 weeks post crash, I jumped in the weekend crits, earning upgrade points nearly each weekend, mind you this is cat4, my second season. I felt like I was starting to get an inkling on how to race crits. I love racing. I love training. I love the sprints. I love the sufferfest. Life is good again.

3/23/14: I got third in a small crit the day before (met AZTallrider briefly) and went into this one feeling great. I was going to sit around 10th wheel or better for the majority and then wait for the final laps/sprint. Well, we make plans and then life happens. Only the third lap, I was sitting at about 10th wheel on a straight section when the pace is steady, no one is attacking, just feeling out the course. All of the sudden I feel a huge push forward under my right shoulder. Literally it felt like a rider attacked into me. I am not sure what happened but I think he caused my right elbow to bend towards my body rapidly possibly causing my wheel to turn to the right. I went down hard on my left side and the other rider landed on top of my right side. I immediately knew my collarbone was broken (same one!). The other rider kept apologizing and shaking his head. he walked away. I was cursing him and yelling. Upon reflection, I am not proud of that moment at all. As the officials scraped me up, I saw my right wrist had a huge lump on it. Likely broken too. Uggghhh. My girlfriend was freaking out as was our dog. My yelling didn't help and again, I wish I had remained calmer.

Back at the car, the officials recommended an ambulance, though the adrenaline (and thoughts of $$$) was speaking and I decided to drive 20 minutes to the ER. My girlfriend doesn't drive stick so it was quite interesting as I was on the highway with the adrenaline wearing off and as it turns out: both radii broken, left elbow broken, and my left clavicle broken in two places. Well, I live 1.5 hours from the race. So after the ER, we drove around the parking lot for 45 minutes as my girlfriend learned the ins and outs of driving a manual transmission!

Surgery occurred about a week later on both radii and the clavicle. This was nothing like my first collarbone break. SO much more pain, longer recovery, and general difficulties. I missed 18 days of work as both arm were in casts. Take a moment and think about all the things you ask and expect (easily) of both your arms. My girlfriend and I reached new levels of intimacy.

4 weeks of zero exercise. Now I am back on the trainer where 5 min zone2/3 intervals are tough. I plan to start running to help build my base again after I get the cast off my left arm today. (Right arm has been free for two weeks)

Overall:

Good:

1. Trauma always instills a new found appreciation for the little things in life.
2. I didn't hit my head,spine, neck or legs!
3. I want to ride again after I am healed.
4. I should be close to 100% again in a year in terms of arm strength and flexibilty.
5. I can type now with my right hand, which is important for my job.
6. I never had a stitch before this past December, with years of martial arts, motorcycle racing, gymnastics, and lots of dumb moves. Time to pay the piper?
7. I'm fiercely independent, though I am learning how to ask for help.

Bad:

1. I wish the accident and its avoidance was obvious. I didn't make any obvious to me mistakes. Maybe I was gripping the drops too tightly, though not typical for me. Maybe I could have fallen better: years of jujitsu and gymnastics didn't help in that split second. I have touched bars, been bumped, and fallen before.

2. The collateral damage was big: girlfriend missing work, me missing work, girlfriend putting up with me, etc.

My feelings are mixed and change over time. I'm now thinking next year I will just race in some tts so that my body can fully heal. But I love the local hammerfest, which is pretty close to a road race, and that is as dangerous as a race. Am I willing to give that up??

I must be mending mentally though, the writing of this post is part of that. I generally lurk here, reading pretty much everything to help me improve. I am greatly in debt to so many of you here for the tips. Thank you. I couldn't even come to this forum for weeks post crash and at times I felt some sort of angst seeing riders on the road training. The mind is a strange thing.

So I ask, any sage advice for the mental recovery?

Last edited by robabeatle; 05-01-14 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 05-01-14, 10:46 AM   #2
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Wow, that's rough.

Hope you heal up and can get back out on the bike - racing or not - before too long!

Btw I wouldn't worry too much about what you could've done differently preceding the crash, if anything - sounds like you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm sure someone will come on and say they would've avoided it by being in the drops or something, but sometimes you just can't avoid crashes like that..
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Old 05-01-14, 10:46 AM   #3
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hi robabeatle, I don't have any sage advice other than if you like (or love) the aspects of riding and racing your bicycle, continue to do so. focus on getting well physically, the bike will be there when your body is ready for it. good luck with your recovery.
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Old 05-01-14, 11:52 AM   #4
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<----- also wishes you a complete and speedy recovery.
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Old 05-01-14, 12:27 PM   #5
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You have my sympathies. I think you can over-analyze this; when you're racing at the level you are, stuff happens and you can only go so far to try and avoid it. You're constantly rolling the dice.... it is only a matter of how high up the ladder you happen to be when you inevitably fall off. Each person has to find the appropriate balance between risk/reward. Think long/hard about this and write your thoughts down now to review later. Discuss it with your friends/family, especially those who are going to be impacted by accidents. There are alternatives where you can race and fuel your competitive instincts, but not take such big risks.

For the most part, we heal up and get back on the horse, but as I've gotten older two things have happened: 1) I no longer have any interest in subjecting myself to the medical establishment anymore than necessary - dealing with the "system" is just such a PITA; and 2) I simply don't return to 100% anymore after injuries and am now dealing with nagging injury-related minor disabilities. For these reasons, I still ride, but I've dialed way WAY back. It's just not worth it to me anymore. But, as I said, you have to find your own equilibrium point.

- Mark
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Old 05-01-14, 12:28 PM   #6
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Damn. Heal up fast, get your GF a massage, and get back out there when the Dr. says "go!"
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Old 05-01-14, 12:36 PM   #7
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Darn it. I'm sorry. I raced that day too and heard about the crash but didn't know who.
Be patient and heal up completely. Next year you might feel differently. In the mean time take of yourself and your GF.
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Old 05-01-14, 12:43 PM   #8
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You may consider a refocus towards Cyclocross! It's a blast. Still intense and overall good race feel, good vibe at the scene, and a soft landing if you crash.
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Old 05-01-14, 12:56 PM   #9
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You may consider a refocus towards Cyclocross! It's a blast. Still intense and overall good race feel, good vibe at the scene, and a soft landing if you crash.
Heh. Guess how I broke my collarbone.

Seriously though... robabeatle, that's a really rough turn of events. Take your time and decide if/when you want to resume hard rides and mass-start racing. If racing means that much to you, you'll find a way to bring yourself back.
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Old 05-01-14, 12:56 PM   #10
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Its your body, your call about future risk taking.

One way of determining if the risk of injury is worth the thrill of racing is to evaluate the potential impact of injury recovery time and/or long-term disability on your career and personal relationships. Based on your racing experience thus far, a serious evaluation of whats important in your future life is in order.

Christopher Reeve loved horses and jumping competition. He also knew the risks he was taking.
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Old 05-01-14, 01:03 PM   #11
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You may consider a refocus towards Cyclocross! It's a blast. Still intense and overall good race feel, good vibe at the scene, and a soft landing if you crash.
I never wore braces in my life until I bashed my front teeth in racing cyclocross
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Old 05-01-14, 01:07 PM   #12
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Best wishes for a speedy recovery. That sounds like a gnarly accident. Atleast you provided a soft cushion for the other guy to land on.
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Old 05-01-14, 01:43 PM   #13
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Get well soon!
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Old 05-01-14, 02:12 PM   #14
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sorry to hear that bro.

When people tell me racing is just as dangerous as group rides I wonder what kind of noobs they do group rides with. It's definitely more accident prone in races and thats a fact. I've been riding for 10 years and over the past 2 years of racing I've been in a metric potato amount of close calls. Every race there are at least 10 close calls. They might not be "close calls" to some of the pros on this forum but I never get even close to incidents like this in group rides or training.

What we all have to decide is to see if it's worth it to us. I think it's still worth it for me to continue racing and as some have said, you have to accept the fact that you might be faced with a similar injury in the future and are you willing to deal with the rehab if it comes to that? That's a big question.

The biggest toll for me has been on my mom. She was FREAKING out when I called her. The only reason I called her is because I had to have surgery and with surgery you just never know(you really could die). I didn't want to undergo surgery, possibly die and then leave my mom without even telling her wtf happened...Holy potatoes when she showed up though, "OMG you cant be doing this wreckless biking". She even got to the point of telling me quit cycling altogether, lol. The funniest part is the PT at the hospital was an avid cyclist and he was trying to convince my mom its going to be okay but she kept telling him this is at the top of the list of dangerous sports.

I really wish I didn't need surgery and I could of just bs'd my mom and told her I fell down walking down the stairs so I needed to be on crutches. That way she wouldn't worry so much. I hate to see her worry...
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Old 05-01-14, 02:22 PM   #15
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Heal up first.
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Old 05-01-14, 02:31 PM   #16
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I never wore braces in my life until I bashed my front teeth in racing cyclocross
lol damn!
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Old 05-01-14, 02:33 PM   #17
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Darn both hands? Remember what can't kill you makes you stronger.
TT sounds good as you get more stronger.
Maybe that girlfriend is wife material after she stuck around with all these?
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Old 05-01-14, 02:42 PM   #18
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one more on the heal up quick and fully front!

sadly as i am dealing with my first ever broken bone myself i don't have much advice to offer.
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Old 05-01-14, 04:21 PM   #19
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Thanks everyone! Seriously, a bit of e-encouragement means a lot right now.

Well, I just got back from the surgeon and he said everything is healing perfectly at this point. The left radial hardware is "textbook" in his words. I had my left cast removed and am now in a brace. I have a followup in 4 weeks. He again encouraged me to get on the trainer to speed up the healing process.

What a relief! So, it looks like long term I will be fully functional with just a bit of extra metal in me.

I know a few of you are in a similar position, healing and recovering. Good luck to you all.
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Old 05-01-14, 04:23 PM   #20
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Darn both hands? Remember what can't kill you makes you stronger.
TT sounds good as you get more stronger.
Maybe that girlfriend is wife material after she stuck around with all these?
Marriage was never in my vocabulary but I did have this thought during the last few weeks!
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Old 05-01-14, 04:24 PM   #21
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Wow, that's rough.

Hope you heal up and can get back out on the bike - racing or not - before too long!

Btw I wouldn't worry too much about what you could've done differently preceding the crash, if anything - sounds like you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm sure someone will come on and say they would've avoided it by being in the drops or something, but sometimes you just can't avoid crashes like that..
Thanks. Frankly, I think i would be better off mentally if I made an obvious mistake. It is that looming idea of a freak occurrence which haunts me.
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Old 05-01-14, 04:28 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDcatV View Post
hi robabeatle, I don't have any sage advice other than if you like (or love) the aspects of riding and racing your bicycle, continue to do so. focus on getting well physically, the bike will be there when your body is ready for it. good luck with your recovery.
Thanks.

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<----- also wishes you a complete and speedy recovery.
Cheers mate.

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You have my sympathies. I think you can over-analyze this; when you're racing at the level you are, stuff happens and you can only go so far to try and avoid it. You're constantly rolling the dice.... it is only a matter of how high up the ladder you happen to be when you inevitably fall off. Each person has to find the appropriate balance between risk/reward. Think long/hard about this and write your thoughts down now to review later. Discuss it with your friends/family, especially those who are going to be impacted by accidents. There are alternatives where you can race and fuel your competitive instincts, but not take such big risks.

For the most part, we heal up and get back on the horse, but as I've gotten older two things have happened: 1) I no longer have any interest in subjecting myself to the medical establishment anymore than necessary - dealing with the "system" is just such a PITA; and 2) I simply don't return to 100% anymore after injuries and am now dealing with nagging injury-related minor disabilities. For these reasons, I still ride, but I've dialed way WAY back. It's just not worth it to me anymore. But, as I said, you have to find your own equilibrium point.

- Mark
I have already had a lot of these discussions. Though it is true that my commute to work would more likely have life ending accident than a crit, but on the other hand, I think there has been an accident in almost every crit I have raced at some point in the day. Thanks
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Old 05-01-14, 04:32 PM   #23
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Its your body, your call about future risk taking.

One way of determining if the risk of injury is worth the thrill of racing is to evaluate the potential impact of injury recovery time and/or long-term disability on your career and personal relationships. Based on your racing experience thus far, a serious evaluation of whats important in your future life is in order.

Christopher Reeve loved horses and jumping competition. He also knew the risks he was taking.
Yup, missing that much work is not good. I can't afford to do that but maybe once a decade.

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Best wishes for a speedy recovery. That sounds like a gnarly accident. Atleast you provided a soft cushion for the other guy to land on.
Haha, so true. I was really mad at the other rider, but I think I have let a lot of that go.
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Get well soon!
Thanks!

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sorry to hear that bro...
Ovoleg: I have been following your story and hope you heal quickly and get out there to tear it up again soon.

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Heal up first.
Good advice!
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Old 05-01-14, 04:32 PM   #24
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one more on the heal up quick and fully front!

sadly as i am dealing with my first ever broken bone myself i don't have much advice to offer.
Oh no, what happened?
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Old 05-01-14, 04:40 PM   #25
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So I ask, any sage advice for the mental recovery?
After some crashes, I'm a huge wimp in training rides. Descending, riding close to wheels, etc. If I judged solely on that I would never race again.

But, once a race starts and I get competitive, all the fear falls away.

Not sage advice, but maybe advice to give it a shot when you're healthy. You can't know how you'll respond in the moment until you're in it.

I also don't worry about racing and safety. this morning I was 3' from being creamed by a porche that decided it was time to turn right from the far left side of the lane, unexpectedly and without a signal. Nothing is safe.
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