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Old 08-16-14, 06:52 AM   #1
Steve Urquell
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Crashed Yesterday--Face down on Concrete

I recently started riding with some of my co-workers. I'm a Physical Therapist Asst at the local hospital. We have a great greenway system here that runs for about 50miles connecting to our hospital and ride ~4X/week. I have a 2007 Trek 7300 and a 1995 Trek 850. Was on the 7300 with 700x25 tires.

Yesterday 2 of us riding side by-side (in our lane)after work, a guy comes hauling-a$$ around a blind corner on our side. My buddy was inside and swerved towards me. I swerved to avoid him and went off the pavement(concrete) It was extremely rough and I was on very lumpy ground and about to be thrown off at ~10MPH. Tried to get back on the paved path, wheel caught the edge and I went over the bars.

Landed on the left under-side of my chin on the concrete at ~8 MPH, helmet on. L knee skinned, deep gouge under my chin and 10/10 pain at my L jaw hinge. I was OK to ride back but was concerned b/c my neck extended violently when I hit the pavement and I was worried about a C-spine injury(can paralyze)

Told my buddy to ride back to the hospital(~3miles) to get my truck to take me in rather than waiting on a meatwagon knowing how rough EMTs can be. They put a C-collar on me immediately at the ER, mashing into my chin lac and mashing my jaw into the L hinge joint causing me excruciating pain in my ear and L jaw hinge.

So, CT, chin stitches, 2 shots of dilaudid, and 4hrs later, both sides of my jaw are fractured, R side hairline, L side with 1/4" of separation between the bone fragments in the hinge joint. I see the ortho on Monday to see if I need surgery. Sipping on liquid oxycodone and getting ready for my liquid breakfast now.

While I want to blame the a-hole on the wrong side of the path, I ultimately know this was my fault for not trying to stop in the grass rather than trying to re-merge on the path and for riding side-by-side. Fast poop happens fast yo'. As I was sitting on the path evaluating my injuries with blood streaming from my chin, I saw the guy circle back and then haul a$$ the other direction when he saw me down.

The only upside is that I just put a trekking handlebar on my bike. I was on the back part of the bar and that saved my hands from hitting the pavement. Probably saved me from some broken fingers too. I love riding but am wondering how gunshy I'm gonna be when I decide to get back on the bike.

To those of you who've had a bad crash, how soon do you get back on and face this?
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Old 08-16-14, 07:15 AM   #2
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Jan 11, 2014 16 mph crash..Sold all five DF bikes. Bought a used Trike..Never want to crash from that height again.

Double vision, bleeding right side brain bruise, emergency brain surgery.

Had the eye muscles corrected this Tuesday.

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Old 08-16-14, 07:48 AM   #3
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Jan 11, 2014 16 mph crash..Sold all five DF bikes. Bought a used Trike..Never want to crash from that height again.

Double vision, bleeding right side brain bruise, emergency brain surgery.

Had the eye muscles corrected this Tuesday.

Hoping you a speedy recovery. I know mine could've gone much worse. I currently have a bike crash patient (MTB on dirt) in a thoracic/cervical brace with multi spinal fractures, respiratory failure, and R side paralysis.
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Old 08-16-14, 09:55 AM   #4
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I'm really sorry about your injuries and wish you both a speedy recovery. I've crashed many times but I've been lucky enough to escape with only minor fractures and a few mild concussions.
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Old 08-16-14, 10:41 AM   #5
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I'm really sorry about your injuries and wish you both a speedy recovery. I've crashed many times but I've been lucky enough to escape with only minor fractures and a few mild concussions.
Thanks for the well wishes. I learned from this incident. Mortified that the person that initiated it fled the scene though--that is unconscionable to me.
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Old 08-16-14, 10:51 AM   #6
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I wish you well for a quick recovery. You didn't mention your age, but I can tell you that physical recovery time goes up with age. Mental recovery is a very different thing, and IME depends on the nature of the accident as much as the extent of injury.

Many years ago I had the misfortune to hit a steel deck bridge at high seed on a rainy day. It was like ice, and I still remember how fast my bike shot out from under me. Though I escaped with only very minor injuries, I walked back to find my bike under the front axle of a tractor trailer whose driver had neatly straddled it with no contact. This was a real "what might have been moment" and for years steel deck remained suoer high on my fear list. (still hate them today 40 years later, but no longer get white knuckles).

I expect that you'll get back on the horse, and will be nervous at blind corners for a while, expecting and adjusting for a crazy coming around. But after a while of nobody coming around, you'll settle back into the groove.

One thing you might take away is to never try to regain the path or road when you ride off out of control. The drop off or "burm" is a barrier like railroad tracks and you cannot climb back up while nearly parallel. It will repel the bicycle while you continue and dump onto the path. If you go off a road or path, scrub off speed until you recover, or take the crash there. Had this happened on a road, the bike would have ended up on the verge, with you lying sprawled in the traffic lane.
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Old 08-16-14, 11:10 AM   #7
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I wish you well for a quick recovery. You didn't mention your age, but I can tell you that physical recovery time goes up with age. Mental recovery is a very different thing, and IME depends on the nature of the accident as much as the extent of injury.

Many years ago I had the misfortune to hit a steel deck bridge at high seed on a rainy day. It was like ice, and I still remember how fast my bike shot out from under me. Though I escaped with only very minor injuries, I walked back to find my bike under the front axle of a tractor trailer whose driver had neatly straddled it with no contact. This was a real "what might have been moment" and for years steel deck remained suoer high on my fear list. (still hate them today 40 years later, but no longer get white knuckles).

I expect that you'll get back on the horse, and will be nervous at blind corners for a while, expecting and adjusting for a crazy coming around. But after a while of nobody coming around, you'll settle back into the groove.

One thing you might take away is to never try to regain the path or road when you ride off out of control. The drop off or "burm" is a barrier like railroad tracks and you cannot climb back up while nearly parallel. It will repel the bicycle while you continue and dump onto the path. If you go off a road or path, scrub off speed until you recover, or take the crash there. Had this happened on a road, the bike would have ended up on the verge, with you lying sprawled in the traffic lane.
I'm 45 y/o, 160lbs. I've encountered the edge before and knew better. The reaction w/o the time to think is what got me crashed. My brain said "You're gonna crash if you stay on this bumpy grass shoulder" Then the body turned the bars towards the concrete.
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Old 08-16-14, 11:25 AM   #8
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I'm 45 y/o, 160lbs. I've encountered the edge before and knew better. The reaction w/o the time to think is what got me crashed. My brain said "You're gonna crash if you stay on this bumpy grass shoulder" Then the body turned the bars towards the concrete.
I've been there and had "I knew better" crashes too, so I understand. I suspect that this crash will partly rewire your brain's priorities, and you'll take the crash that's coming rather than make a mistake that yield's a worse crash. To the extent that crashes can be managed, it's not about rational thought as much as preconditioned actions, or what I call preflexes.

But, as I said, if the mental trauma isn't bad enough to keep you off the bike altogether, and it sounds like that's the case, then you'll be back in the groove soon enough.
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Old 08-16-14, 11:34 AM   #9
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To the extent that crashes can be managed, it's not about rational thought as much as preconditioned actions, or what I call preflexes.
Well said. I was going to add something to that effect in my post but couldn't find the right words(#oxycodone).

I work in the hospital ICU/CCU getting critically ill patients out of bed and mobile for the first time since their injury/surgery and have nerves of steel just due to my experience/exposure to the environment. I expect the same will come on the road with experience.
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Old 08-16-14, 12:03 PM   #10
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This crash wasn't your fault, you just didn't avoid it as effectively as you could have done when things started to go wrong - you probably did better than most people could.

If you want to look for a safety improvement (other than not riding side by side and hitting your brakes when you saw the guy, which would have given your friend room to swerve - and with the right tyres you could stop the bike in a couple of times its own legth at 15mph) then wider tyres would have helped a lot. Good ones would probably be faster too, except in very specific circumstances that have nothing to do with transportation and even less to do with fat bar hybrids:

Tech FAQ: Seriously, wider tires have lower rolling resistance than their narrower brethren - VeloNews.com

People run 25mm tyres on hybrids because "They do it on the Tour." But often pro road racers go up to 28s, and they ride in a more aero rather than rolling resistance dominated speed zone . And, oh yes, because they are racing.

As for getting back on the bike after a serious injury of a near fatal... It's entirely personal. You should be no shame or pressure if you don't want to. Get back on the bike if and when you feel the desire. Something that might help rationally is knowing that with practice - and better rubber - you would have been able to brake out of the way of your friend instead of swerving:

http://sheldonbrown.com/brandt/over-the-bars.html

http://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

But mostly - just stop being so hard on yourself.


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Old 08-16-14, 12:10 PM   #11
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To the extent that crashes can be managed, it's not about rational thought as much as preconditioned actions, or what I call preflexes.

It's even more about "set up". The best messengers I worked with always rode so that they had somewhere to go and they knew where that place was. With that set up, there's nothing for reflexes to do. If approach a blind turn, you're always ready for trouble - you shout "Coming through!", pull out to a position where can see as much as possible, slow to instant braking speed, adopt single file, kill your speed and have your hands over the brake levers for an instant stop. You never put yourself in a situation where you are gambling on there not being trouble if you have alternatives.

(I use MUPs with blind turns a lot. Really: if in any doubt, shout!)

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Old 08-16-14, 12:21 PM   #12
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I went over the bars about five years ago and did a face plant as well. I struck on my right cheek crushing the cheekbone, five orbital fractures and a cracked mandible. I was riding regularly in about a month. The only residual effect is some minor numbness in my upper jaw, apparently not all of the nerves came back. Best of luck.
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Old 08-16-14, 12:27 PM   #13
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OP, thanks for sharing your experience. It makes me consider my attitude about helmets... When I was riding motorbikes I always wore a full face helmet for fear of jaw and eye injuries but on the bicycle I wear a normal half helmet (and no armor either). I'm really only worried about my brain, figuring my wrists or collarbones would sacrifice themselves in a lesser wreck. But there are downhills on my commute where I hit 30, and not in the safest locations. However my motorbike helmet weighs many pounds and isn't really appropriate for cycling, either in weight, airflow, or visibility. What's the solution?
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Old 08-16-14, 12:35 PM   #14
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OP, thanks for sharing your experience. It makes me consider my attitude about helmets... When I was riding motorbikes I always wore a full face helmet for fear of jaw and eye injuries but on the bicycle I wear a normal half helmet (and no armor either). I'm really only worried about my brain, figuring my wrists or collarbones would sacrifice themselves in a lesser wreck. But there are downhills on my commute where I hit 30, and not in the safest locations. However my motorbike helmet weighs many pounds and isn't really appropriate for cycling, either in weight, airflow, or visibility. What's the solution?
There probably isn't one:

Cycle helmets are useless, says brain surgeon - Telegraph

http://www.cyclehelmets.org/

However, it doesn't matter: death or serious neurological injury from cycling accidents are incredibly rare.

If you're really concerned, then this is probably the best helmet available:

BiOS -!- anatomical protection helmets invented by a neurosurgeon
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Old 08-16-14, 01:56 PM   #15
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I went over the bars about five years ago and did a face plant as well. I struck on my right cheek crushing the cheekbone, five orbital fractures and a cracked mandible. I was riding regularly in about a month. The only residual effect is some minor numbness in my upper jaw, apparently not all of the nerves came back. Best of luck.
My left jaw hinge is broken in two pieces separated ~1/4". Did yours need to be pinned or heal on its own?
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Old 08-16-14, 02:28 PM   #16
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My left jaw hinge is broken in two pieces separated ~1/4". Did yours need to be pinned or heal on its own?
Mine healed on it's own luckily, your injuries are far more serious than mine were. I saw an ENT surgeon the morning following the accident and he described the likelihood of needing a plate to support my cheekbone but said that I was too swollen to even be examined thoroughly. A week later he saw me and said "keep doing whatever it is that you are doing."
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Old 08-16-14, 02:36 PM   #17
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Mine healed on it's own luckily, your injuries are far more serious than mine were. I saw an ENT surgeon the morning following the accident and he described the likelihood of needing a plate to support my cheekbone but said that I was too swollen to even be examined thoroughly. A week later he saw me and said "keep doing whatever it is that you are doing."
Really, with my PT background I know of 2 scenarios for repairing what I have.

1st will be if ortho can reduce the fracture and stabilize it by wiring my jaw shut, it would heal.

2nd scenario is an ORIF--plates, pins, screws to mechanically stabilize it.

Either way I'm sucking food thru a straw for awhile. Pureed ribeye blended up with beef broth anyone?
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Old 08-16-14, 03:04 PM   #18
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get back riding asap, the longer you wait the more fear takes over and before you know it "cycling is too dangerous"
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Old 08-17-14, 03:31 PM   #19
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get back riding asap, the longer you wait the more fear takes over and before you know it "cycling is too dangerous"
I have only one thing to say about that......

Repeat........

GET BACK RIDING ASAP, THE LONGER YOU WAIT THE MORE FEAR TAKES OVER AND BEFORE YOU KNOW IT ""CYCLING IS TOO DANGEROUS"

I couldn't have said it better myself.
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Old 08-18-14, 06:57 AM   #20
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It took me a year to get back on(1996). Had to buy a new bike. Quick release on front disengaged, I think my kids did it playing near my bike ( 5 yrs old), old type release, only a lever. Concussion, 3 fractured vertebrae, wrist operation, still hurts sometimes. First time I ever wore a helmet, smashed it to bits, luck or mom's prayers? I was new to riding and wasn't in the habit of checking my gear very well, lesson learned.
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Old 08-18-14, 07:11 AM   #21
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Really, with my PT background I know of 2 scenarios for repairing what I have.

1st will be if ortho can reduce the fracture and stabilize it by wiring my jaw shut, it would heal.

2nd scenario is an ORIF--plates, pins, screws to mechanically stabilize it.

Either way I'm sucking food thru a straw for awhile. Pureed ribeye blended up with beef broth anyone?
The best of luck Steve, please provide an update when time permits.
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Old 08-18-14, 07:45 AM   #22
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The best of luck Steve, please provide an update when time permits.
Appt today at 2:30 CST with Maxillofacial surgeon. All food liquified really stinks. I liquifed some leftover pizza in the blender with beef broth last night cause pudding and soup weren't cutting my hunger. Sodium level eleventy. I drank pizza. Pathetic.
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Old 08-18-14, 07:57 AM   #23
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It took me a year to get back on(1996). Had to buy a new bike. Quick release on front disengaged, I think my kids did it playing near my bike ( 5 yrs old), old type release, only a lever. Concussion, 3 fractured vertebrae, wrist operation, still hurts sometimes. First time I ever wore a helmet, smashed it to bits, luck or mom's prayers? I was new to riding and wasn't in the habit of checking my gear very well, lesson learned.
My bosses boss a is a self-proclaimed bike guru and helped my boss order a Motobecane from BD, helped him assemble it. I was a mechanic for 20 yrs before switching careers and everyone comes to me for mechanical questions.

He asked me to look at the bike cause it wasn't right. He had ordered a 23" frame for a 5'8" guy with 31" inseam. It was a deathtrap. FD guide was 1" above the gear and couldn't shift, handlebars loose, front wheel quik release bearing on the wrong side (lever grinding into bare aluminum and wheel kicking out to the side)

I got all that fixed and hopped on it, heard ting, ting, ting sound from the front. Looked down and the disk brake caliper was loose and hanging in the spokes. Went over every bolt on the thing after that and most were loose. He'd been riding it like this for 2 yrs.

When people tell noobs to buy a bike from the bike shop, it really is a good suggestion.
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Old 08-18-14, 04:55 PM   #24
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No surgery required! Ortho shot an xray, said it was broken on both sides but located well.

Liquid diet for 2 weeks, check up in 1 week. If my bite shifts, he puts braces on my front teeth with rubber bands to keep it closed with a max 1/4" opening ability
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Old 08-18-14, 05:48 PM   #25
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Nice! We will hope for the best sir.
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