Member of the Collar-Bone Club? Tell us your story.
It was early Fall of 2006. I was living in the Soquel Hills, about three miles up Old San Jose Road in Santa Cruz County. It was about 10:30 in the evening, and I was on my way home from big band rehearsal. On my back was my stuffed messenger bag, and on top of that my rectangular trumpet case.
I was tired. Very tired. And it was riding in that state with that huge load on my back which lead to my dangerous error. About 2 miles up the mild hill to my home in the woods, I lost control of my bike. It was only for about one second, but it that one second, I veered slightly to the right, which took me off the road and onto the dirt shoulder. Now, it may be worth mentioning here that I was doing this on a vintage road bike, not a mountain or hybrid, and the lip between the dirt and the pavement was over an inch high. As soon as I went off the road, I tried to steer back on, which the tires weren't hefty enough to do, and I was thrown over the bars.
Kick in slo-mo: I saw my head getting closer to the ground. Anyone who's taken a spill before has gone through this exact same transition. You could be euphoric with the joy of the ride, or miserable with the pain of climbing, or exhausted from the sheer length. But the moment you start to lose control, all of those go away and are exchanged with panic and the fear of what you know is gonna happen next, even though you really don't know what's gonna happen. I threw my shoulder forward in hopes that I could roll out of this, and maybe suffer only a few cuts and bruises. To this day I swear that that should have worked. I swear it. The only thing keeping me from a safe landing was that goddamn trumpet case. When I hit the ground, so did my trumpet case. That flat end landed flush with the pavement, stopping all of the momentum I had built up and landing all of that weight that I carry onto one place: my collar bone.
It took months to heal, and years before I got back on a bike. One clavicle is still misaligned with the other, but it doesn't matter. I've been back in the saddle for 3 years now, and I'm almost glad that this happened. Ride smart, my friends.