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  1. #1
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    How long till I'm back to where I was?

    Six weeks ago I was severely injured in a serious bike crash, with lots of broken ribs, a broken clavicle, and internal injuries. I'm back on my bike this week, taking it easy. Though my upper body is the limiting factor this week, my legs and wind are much weaker than they were after six weeks off the bike. How long to get back what I had?

    Context: I was about 2 miles into a 60 mile ride with 4000 foot of altitude gain, which I estimated would take me about 9 hours to finish including all stops, when I crashed. It had taken two years to get to that level of fitness, starting from close to completely sedentary. On Saturday, I rode 12 flat miles, and today I rode 20 miles with just a few mild hills and some very strong headwinds. It took me about 50% longer to do today's ride than it would have taken before the crash.

  2. #2
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    The extent of your injuries, your own fitness, and I am sure other factors will enter into how long before you are back where you were. But only six weeks after the accident and you can ride 20 miles? That is a lot, at 50% longer is hardly a surprise. What does your doctor say?
    Last edited by goldfinch; 07-04-12 at 11:13 AM.

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    When I was a kid and broke bones, it usually took 6 weeks for them to heal. I would probably give your breaks 8 weeks just to be sure that you don't get a fresh break before it is completely healed.

    Assuming that everything heals back and you don't have any arthritis or other problems from the injuries, I would think that you will be back to 90% in 2 months and then it will take another 6 months and work to get back to 100%. This is just a guess based on how I usually recover.

  4. #4
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    six months....no need to rush the healing process.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
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  5. #5
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Good for you for getting on the bike so soon! Age (undisclosed!) is certainly a factor, but don't sweat it, just enjoy riding again.
    Rick T
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    just ease into it and you will get there.

    What happened with the crash if you do not mind sharing?

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    I totally see how the mind would want to rush to just before the incident fitness level; this would be one of those cases in which "slow is fast" applies. Rushing the post accident recovery will most likely make the time to full recovery longer.
    No need to completely ignore the accomplishments of the previous two years but I'd rather approach it as a total new challenge.
    Somewhat similar mindset to where you were two years ago. Goal to ease into it. This second time around you'll have two years worth of knowledge/experience that will sure help the process. Let your body, not your mind, be the pacemaker.

  8. #8
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Teacher lady, I remember your post about the crash. I'm glad you're recovering and have the confidence to get back on the bike.

    I agree with others about taking it steadily. I've never had anything comparable in scale to your injuries, but I have broken ribs, and it was fully three months before I was totally free of discomfort.

    The good news is that your aerobic fitness will return more quickly than you probably fear. Having been there once, you'll find that you can get back there in much less time than it took first time around. But this really is a case of " haste is slow". If you are careful to just keep riding at the level your injuries permit, then by the time you're fully recovered you will also be well on the way back to fitness.

    Still planning to do the tour?
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  9. #9
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    I'll make no predictions but I will tell you that if it were me, my biggest challenge would be in re-adjusting my eating habits to take into account my lack of activity. Even a week or two of few miles is a danger to me. I gain a quarter pound walking by McDonalds. One of my greatest fears in terms of accidents is the weight gain associated with no biking/exercise. My only suggestion is to consciously but slowly increase your activity level. I know people with a simple rotator cuff operation that had problems a year later. If you have access to a good physical therapist I would certainly recommend that. Getting back full range of motion safely isn't obvious or simple in many cases. Good luck.

  10. #10
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    Thank you for the responses. I also hang out in in 50 plus, but I heal quickly, and I'm motivated: I feel like riding has saved my equanimity, and it has certainly given me great joy and a measure of confidence, as well as being a huge boost to my health.

    I think my fear is will be as big almost as big a problem as my broken body. Getting out of town involves either about 10 miles of city streets with a lot of climbing including one brutally steep block (that I'd only once managed to cycle up) or 45 minutes or more on public transit -- or going by the spot I crashed. I went by there on my ride the other day, and huge sobs came out of nowhere so I had to stop. There aren't a lot of flat rides around here, and I'm definitely riding the brakes hard on the slightest descent.

    I don't necessarily trust what my doctors say, because they see a fat 53 year old -- and the ortho guy, the PT, and my regular doctor all say something different. I think they think about getting back to work and maybe Sunday rides in the park, not getting back to confidence doing long solo rides.

    I've been very hesitant to ride in groups for a number of reasons: First, I'm fat, and extremely slow on the hills. I can go up hill for a couple of hours, and go a long way up in that time and have the time of my life doing it, and I enjoy all day rides at a steady 12-16 miles an hour on the flats. I've done a solo century, and enjoyed it. BUT I'm fat, and slow on the hills: I'll go 3-5 miles and EVERYBODY passes me. I was a cautious descender even before I crashed. Most groups seem either to go much faster or much shorter distances or both. I don't have group riding skills.

    I've been happy riding alone, or with my partner (he's been so happy I'm riding again that he's more than content to go at my pace) but I think I'm going to have to learn to ride with others. Slow and steady has always been my riding style, so it makes sense for a recovery style, but I'm scared to ride alone, and I only have six weeks to recover before I go back to work. Once school starts, teacher trumps cyclist in the competition for my time.

    Weight gain was a huge fear, but strangely, even though I had been eating for a hundred miles a week with lots of climbing before I crashed, I have not gained any weight. Maybe it's because I have been unable to cook, or maybe because I was paying attention to what my body needed, or maybe because I lost muscle mass without regaining fat. It's been one of many strokes of good luck in this whole episode.

    And yes, I plan on trying my planned tour next summer, if I can get some confidence back on the bike!
    Last edited by teacherlady; 07-05-12 at 11:16 AM. Reason: forgot to add

  11. #11
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    It's perfectly normal that you have lost confidence, and are still traumatised. But you've done the hardest part by getting back out on the bike. That's courageous. And if you just keep on at your own pace, extending your comfort zone little by little, one day you'll realise that you feel OK about it all.

    If I were you I wouldn't bother with group rides for a while. At this stage of your recovery the last thing you need is to be worrying about where other people want to ride, whether you're going fast enough for them and so on. Just take it at your own speed.

  12. #12
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    Last October I was creamed by a car while riding to work. I broke most of the ribs on my left side, broken clavicle, punctured lung, and a grade 5 total separation of my shoulder (which, my dr. tells me, means that the loose piece of clavicle has torn through the muscles that run from shoulder to neck). Additionally, I bounced/slid so hard that my hip bone tore through muscle on my side (it is still evident to the touch, the muscle feels "bumpy" under the skin and there is still a bruise/discoloration on my skin) and my liver was torn from the impact.

    I was training for my first triathlon, and had been regularly running marathon distances and riding several hundred miles per week. The doctors suggest that my level of fitness may have saved my life. I stayed in the hospital for nearly a week. At the beginning of January I had surgery to reattach my shoulder (which is now failing. I will need to repeat the surgery before the end of the year.), followed by PT.

    Over 9 months later, and I still am nowhere near close to 100%. My running is total crap. Swimming and lifting hurts if I'm not careful. Bike-wise, perhaps ironically, is the physical activity that I was able to return to first, and am able to do the easiest, now. I can do long rides again, as long as I don't have to dodge cars For a while, though, there was definite hesitation when riding in traffic.


    I'll agree with what has been mentioned a couple of times, above: don't push it until your dr. gives you the go-ahead. It's difficult when your mind is expecting a 25 mile ride but your body can only deliver 5 miles. Very frustrating, mentally. Work on building your cardio back up, and it will all fall back into place quicker than you think.

  13. #13
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Even though you believe you heal fast not all healing to be done is readily apparent. You are not young (though younger than I am ) and it takes time. It also sounds like there is a communication issue with your doctors if all they see is a fat old lady biking Sundays in the park.

    Take care!

  14. #14
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    Thanks for sharing your recovery story. Yup, liver and lung too, and deep bruises where there weren't breaks. Now that the bones are healing, the bruises hurt more than the breaks, and it's harder to get something off the nightstand or to get up out of bed than it is to ride 10 (flat) miles. Maybe my idea to try swimming to get the cardio back isn't such a good idea. I'm still afraid to go fast to push the cardio recovery, and scared of hills, not because of the uphill so much as because of the downhill. Going down a 300 foot descent the other day was scary, even though I took it slow. And it's been really, really windy the last few days. Since my balance is already a little off, dealing with crosswinds is hard.

    Who knows how hard recovery is until it happens to you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfwerx View Post
    Last October I was creamed by a car while riding to work. I broke most of the ribs on my left side, broken clavicle, punctured lung, and a grade 5 total separation of my shoulder (which, my dr. tells me, means that the loose piece of clavicle has torn through the muscles that run from shoulder to neck). Additionally, I bounced/slid so hard that my hip bone tore through muscle on my side (it is still evident to the touch, the muscle feels "bumpy" under the skin and there is still a bruise/discoloration on my skin) and my liver was torn from the impact. . . .

    Bike-wise, perhaps ironically, is the physical activity that I was able to return to first, and am able to do the easiest, now. I can do long rides again, as long as I don't have to dodge cars For a while, though, there was definite hesitation when riding in traffic.


    I'll agree with what has been mentioned a couple of times, above: don't push it until your dr. gives you the go-ahead. It's difficult when your mind is expecting a 25 mile ride but your body can only deliver 5 miles. Very frustrating, mentally. Work on building your cardio back up, and it will all fall back into place quicker than you think.

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    typoOne bit of good news in all this: The crash happened on my beautiful, brand-new, custom bike. I had ridden about 130 miles on it, and had just the previous evening gotten the fit perfect. I was afraid that the bike was ruined, but it wasn't! It's not quite as pretty as it had been, and it did need some repair, but the bike shop was so, so, so good to me and my bike. I made it clear that I was prepared to pay whatever was necessary to get a bike that was structurally and mechanically as good as new. The shop-owner could have said I needed a new frame or fork, and I wouldn't have known enough to know whether he was taking advantage of me. He covered up the small dent, filed down the scratches in the brake lever and bar-cons, retrued the wheel, and hardly charged me anything. I my lbs (even though they're actually in the next town over).

  16. #16
    Senior Member WonderMonkey's Avatar
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    One thing that you will only have to partially retrain is your mental outlook and your knowledge. You won't have to start back at zero with that. Having said that you will get back to "your old self" much faster than it took you to get there in the first place.

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