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Old 10-18-12, 06:11 PM   #1
sesmith
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Season ended early...

Sympathy post Not actually, but thought there might be a lesson here for others to take home.

I crashed 2 weeks ago, ending a beautiful fall riding season way too early. I was on my way home, on my daily commute from work when I hit a pothole on a downhill (30-35 mph). This is a road I ride every day and know where all the potholes are, yet I managed to hit a (well known to me) one. I was just starting to brake, which made matters worse, and I flipped the bike.

I was air lifted to the closest trauma center and spent a couple of days in icu, and one in a regular room. Injuries include 3 fractured cervical vertabrae, some possible ligament damage to my neck, a fractured jaw, some missing teeth, and a host of stitches to put my face back together. FWIW, I had a helmet on, broke it's edge, but the damage to my face stopped where the helmet started. I was in a world of hurt, but never lost consciousness, and never had as much as a headache from concussion. No one can tell me that a helmet isn't required cycling gear. I'm recouperating at home and am doing pretty well, all things considered, testiment to staying in decent shape from riding a lot. Hope to be back to work wiithin the next week or 2. I will have to wear a full head brace for the next 11 weeks or so, so riding is out untill I can stuff my head back into a helmet again and hold my neck up ok.

Lessons learned:

So, as much as I like going down hills fast, this will probably slow me down some in the future. I think we tend to (at least I do) get complacent, riding the same roads day after day, taking risks that seem minimal at the time. The road in question is a mess, and I always took the same line through the minefield of pot holes near the bottom of the hill. We drove over there the other day. With police investigation marks still on the road, I looked at the spot close up, and thought, I'm out of my mind. I should have wiped out there years ago.

I think I can say you don't quite bounce back at 54 like you did at 24.

Wear your helmets, folks...that's the most important one. I'm a very happy guy all banged up right now, though it's a ***** of a way to get extra vacation from work.
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Old 10-18-12, 06:21 PM   #2
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I'm very glad you are alive. Heal well.
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Old 10-18-12, 06:21 PM   #3
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Sounds like things coulda been much worse - that's easy for me to say. Glad to hear that you are 'bouncing back' as well as you are. Keep moving forward!
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Old 10-18-12, 06:59 PM   #4
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Here's hoping for a faster than normal recovery.
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Old 10-18-12, 07:06 PM   #5
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Here's hoping that you are back up to full cadence by the early spring. Glad to hear that the damage wasn't any worse than it was.
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Old 10-18-12, 07:29 PM   #6
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Ow. Just... ow.

Praying that your neck heals up without undo trouble, and that your facial reconstruction makes you even more ruggedly handsome than you were previously!
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Old 10-18-12, 07:31 PM   #7
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I've found that I simply cannot afford to let vigilance drop on any ride.

My worst incident on a bike was on a familiar corner, a sweeping downhiller to a T-junction with clear sightlines in either direction. The surface was chipseal and the road was wet. I went down when the front wheel lost traction on a patch of spilt diesel from a bus.

A posterior separation of the right shoulder and a trip to hospital casualty to have it replaced under heavy sedation resulted.

That happened around eight years ago, and I am still leery of speeding down wet, chipseal roads with bends.

I hope the recovery continues to proceed well. You'll find your attention will be heightened when you get back on your bike.
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Old 10-18-12, 07:51 PM   #8
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all the best for a speedy recovery.
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Old 10-18-12, 08:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sesmith View Post
Sympathy post Not actually, but thought there might be a lesson here for others to take home.

I crashed 2 weeks ago, ending a beautiful fall riding season way too early. I was on my way home, on my daily commute from work when I hit a pothole on a downhill (30-35 mph). This is a road I ride every day and know where all the potholes are, yet I managed to hit a (well known to me) one. I was just starting to brake, which made matters worse, and I flipped the bike.

I was air lifted to the closest trauma center and spent a couple of days in icu, and one in a regular room. Injuries include 3 fractured cervical vertabrae, some possible ligament damage to my neck, a fractured jaw, some missing teeth, and a host of stitches to put my face back together. FWIW, I had a helmet on, broke it's edge, but the damage to my face stopped where the helmet started. I was in a world of hurt, but never lost consciousness, and never had as much as a headache from concussion. No one can tell me that a helmet isn't required cycling gear. I'm recouperating at home and am doing pretty well, all things considered, testiment to staying in decent shape from riding a lot. Hope to be back to work wiithin the next week or 2. I will have to wear a full head brace for the next 11 weeks or so, so riding is out untill I can stuff my head back into a helmet again and hold my neck up ok.

Lessons learned:

So, as much as I like going down hills fast, this will probably slow me down some in the future. I think we tend to (at least I do) get complacent, riding the same roads day after day, taking risks that seem minimal at the time. The road in question is a mess, and I always took the same line through the minefield of pot holes near the bottom of the hill. We drove over there the other day. With police investigation marks still on the road, I looked at the spot close up, and thought, I'm out of my mind. I should have wiped out there years ago.

I think I can say you don't quite bounce back at 54 like you did at 24.

Wear your helmets, folks...that's the most important one. I'm a very happy guy all banged up right now, though it's a ***** of a way to get extra vacation from work.
Been there and done that, good luck in your recovery... It just blows my mind how some people can convince themselves that not wearing a helmet is OK... Err, no, better than OK, there are some people saying that wearing a helmet would actually increase your chance of having an accident and decrease your chance of surviving un-injured/less injured if you do have an accident...

Last edited by 350htrr; 10-18-12 at 08:11 PM.
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Old 10-18-12, 08:06 PM   #10
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I've found that I simply cannot afford to let vigilance drop on any ride...
I know that, I really do. However, today I thought I had that magic moment to relax.

We were on a downhill run on the edge of town on our way home. There's a substandard width bike lane that is full of debris which we don't ride in. That creates a bit of pressure to maintain the 35 mph speed limit (we would prefer to take this road at under 30 mph because of the driveways/sidestreets that people tend to pull out of). Just as I dug out a handkerchief to deal with the effects of heavy breathing on a cold, humid day, I saw an animal in the shadows of the bike lane. I couldn't safely put the rag away and apply our drag brake in time, so I just started yelling, "animal, animal, animal" My wife couldn't make out what I was saying, but she understood that something was happening and slowing down was likely called for. As the rim brakes squealed, the asphalt-colored cat bolted across the street about ten feet in front of us.

Next time I'll just let my nose drip until we reach the bottom.

I ride on roads like the one described in the OP. Heck, who doesn't? My son used to laugh at me for giving the pot holes names. I found it helped me remember where they were. I would often name them for something that I would see just before arriving at the hole.
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Old 10-18-12, 08:07 PM   #11
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Glad you're "OK," sesmith.

The word that sticks out in your post, for me, is "complacent." As a bicycle commuter, I ride the same exact route every day, down roads I have cycled for about forty years. I have always been an advocate for alternating routes to avoid becoming overconfident, but the alternatives available to me have become way too dangerous over the decades.

I haven't quite figured out how to keep from becoming complacent yet, but I hope your post will urge others never to take anything for granted when on the saddle.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery and a better, longer season next year!
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Old 10-18-12, 08:11 PM   #12
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Been there and done that, good luck in your recovery... It just blows my mind how some people can convince themselves that not wearing a helmet is OK... NO, better than OK, there are some people saying that wearing a helmet would actually increase your chance of having an accident and decrease your chance of surviving un-injured/less injured if you do have an accident...
I've been wearing a helmet since the '70s. However, there is no denying that in some crashes, like the one described in the OP, a helmet can make things worse. I would not be surprised if the helmet didn't contribute to the broken vertebra. I can't prove it any more than the OP or you can prove that the helmet prevented the injuries from being worse than they are. The data regarding bike helmets is still rather unconvincing for any crash other than a stationary fall.

Now, I believe there is some data showing that helmet use in motor vehicles, whose occupants have many more head/brain injuries than cyclists, would help reduce the frequency and severity of those injuries. Of course you are wearing a proper helmet when you are in a car, aren't you?
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Old 10-18-12, 08:15 PM   #13
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Best wishes for quick recovery and return to cycling.
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Old 10-18-12, 08:29 PM   #14
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Heal fast.....At least it is the end of the season and you will be back for the next season.

Don't be to hard on yourself. As much as we try, it is very difficult to be completly on our game every moment of every ride....poop happens, to us all.
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Old 10-18-12, 08:35 PM   #15
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Ouch.

Heal well.
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Old 10-18-12, 08:50 PM   #16
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I've been wearing a helmet since the '70s. However, there is no denying that in some crashes, like the one described in the OP, a helmet can make things worse. I would not be surprised if the helmet didn't contribute to the broken vertebra. I can't prove it any more than the OP or you can prove that the helmet prevented the injuries from being worse than they are. The data regarding bike helmets is still rather unconvincing for any crash other than a stationary fall.

Now, I believe there is some data showing that helmet use in motor vehicles, whose occupants have many more head/brain injuries than cyclists, would help reduce the frequency and severity of those injuries. Of course you are wearing a proper helmet when you are in a car, aren't you?
I think recognition of the incidence of head trauma trend in vehicle accidents resulted in the introduction of frontal air bags, and now the wider adoption of side-impact air bags. So this long-held opinion by cycling advocates is losing its relevancy to a certain extent.

Admittedly, a helmet might be a cheaper alternative.
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Old 10-18-12, 09:09 PM   #17
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Glad it wasn't worse.

Heal well and quickly!

... And don't beat yourself up. The road already did that pretty well for you. Just take it as a lesson from the (quite literal) school of hard knocks...
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Old 10-18-12, 09:28 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
I've been wearing a helmet since the '70s. However, there is no denying that in some crashes, like the one described in the OP, a helmet can make things worse. I would not be surprised if the helmet didn't contribute to the broken vertebra. I can't prove it any more than the OP or you can prove that the helmet prevented the injuries from being worse than they are. The data regarding bike helmets is still rather unconvincing for any crash other than a stationary fall.

Now, I believe there is some data showing that helmet use in motor vehicles, whose occupants have many more head/brain injuries than cyclists, would help reduce the frequency and severity of those injuries. Of course you are wearing a proper helmet when you are in a car, aren't you?
WOW, Why don't you just bang your head as hard as you can on the pavement with a helmet on and then without, and maybe then you can understand the difference it can make to your head in an accident... Of course a helmet won't help anything else but your head in an accident but that's the way it is... This whole argument about how good or how bad a helmet actually is, is STUPID. AS STUPID AS Saying a helmet actually causes more harm than good is like saying smoking is good for you and your lungs about 30 to 40 years ago... Looks like this is another thread I's need to leave... Bye
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Old 10-18-12, 09:35 PM   #19
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Uh oh! Careful guys, otherwise this will be moved to A&S based on the helmet comments.

Let's just say opinions differ on the subject of helmet usage and leave it that, huh?
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Old 10-18-12, 10:15 PM   #20
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Like most everybody else here, I love taking a good hill at 30-35 MPH or even faster. But we are taking significant risks at those speeds. I don't think I ever lose sight of that when I'm in the midst of the "whoosh", and I just hope that my vigilance and luck continue.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery sesmith. The absence of concussive symptoms is a blessing, but speaking from experience, there are cases where those symptoms take a few weeks to surface. Probably after two weeks your odds of having any are severely diminished.

This is a bit off topic, but fast descents are one of several reasons why I have no interest in racing. I never want to be in a position where I'm balancing my judgement of how fast to descend with how much time I'm losing by being a bit more cautious.
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Old 10-19-12, 05:50 AM   #21
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I'm just going to say I am glad you are able to post this and that recovery is underway for you. I hope and pray all goes smoothly for you with the recovery and that you heal completely.

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Old 10-19-12, 06:22 AM   #22
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Like most everybody else here, I love taking a good hill at 30-35 MPH or even faster. But we are taking significant risks at those speeds. I don't think I ever lose sight of that when I'm in the midst of the "whoosh", and I just hope that my vigilance and luck continue.
I hear you. For me, faster was always better. We have a hill or 2 around here I've hit 50 on. My bike's are stable at that speed and I was comfortable going that fast. However, I'm rethinking that...no, consider it rethunk. Part of the problem is that the older you get, you have a slowdown of reaction time. Maybe it's imperceptable, but it's there. That's when the luck end of things runs out. The risks definitely increase with speed...exponentially? Here's a link to study results of car / pedestrian deaths related to speed. Not exactly what we're talking about, but food for thought.

http://humantransport.org/sidewalks/SpeedKills.htm
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Old 10-19-12, 06:27 AM   #23
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I hit 30mph on a descent for the first time last weekend and it was both fun and scary at the same time. I kept thinking that if something bad happened I really would have no control over my fate. I suppose that is the thrill of sport and why some of us do it. Being in control all of the time is not living.
I had two serious accidents last year and escaped both without serious injury. One was as a result of hitting a pothole I didn't see. I now keep my eyes on the road in front of me at all times. Nothing like experience
Get well fast.
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Old 10-19-12, 06:33 AM   #24
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I admire your attitude. I hope recovery is swift and complete.
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Old 10-19-12, 09:57 AM   #25
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Glad to hear youre doing well and will be back riding but that brings up the question , How's the bike?
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