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)
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.
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?