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UncaStuart 02-12-04 10:12 PM

Bouncing Back
Bouncing back, in more ways than one.

Bounce back number one:
I'm coming out of the cycling doldrums that grabbed me back in August. While my weekly miles went down, do did my attendance at this board, to the point where I haven't joined in the fun for four months. Bummer. But hey, I've made two posts today (not counting this one)!

Bounce back number two:
Last month, conscious of my decreased riding time of late, I decided to ride my bike to a meeting with a business partner. It had rained the day before, and in the morning the roads were still wet. Nothing new to me, having commuted for years in all kinds of weather, and I gave myself enough time to do the route slow and easy.

I live on a ridge, so there is no easy way to get anywhere from my house: 10 - 15% grades in all directions. I chose to go down one road with a middling grade, and took it at a moderate speed because of the conditions. Well, of course, despite my precautions, I managed to get my front tire trapped in a construction seam, the bike went down and I kept going. As I was airborne, I had two thoughts: "I wonder how much this is going to hurt," and "#@@%!! I was going slow!"

The answer to my airborne question was, "a lot." Later, at the hospital, X-rays showed a broken collar bone (natch), a broken rib, collapsed lung, and fractured pelvis. But for the moment, on the road, the main thing keeping my attention was breathing. Which hurt. I was on my back, head downhill, and was happy that I could wiggle all my various extremities. What was less than happy a thought was dragging myself off the road and finding my cell phone. While I was pondering this a face showed up over me and asked how I was doing. My first bit of luck: I had fallen just 20 yards from where a construction crew was working.

"Do you need 911?" he asked.

"Yes, please," I said.

"Do you want to move out of the roadway?" he asked.

"I'd rather not move," I replied non-macho-ly, thinking of ribs puncturing other bits, "if at all possible."

"OK," he said, and some members of the crew put orange traffic cones around me, which made me feel a little silly, but I got over it. He called 911, another crew member picked up my bike and leaned it against a tree, collecting the water bottles that had rolled down the hill. In no time at all, a fire truck arrived and the EMTs started looking me over. I had taken off my helmet earlier to get my head more comfortable, and while one tech held my head steady, we discussed whether or not I had a neck or spinal injury. Once they were satisfied I was OK in that respect, they cut off my jersey--a wonderful wool long-sleeve I had received as a thank-you for babysitting my grandson for a week, dang it--and started checking vitals. The police arrived soon thereafter, and an ambulance just behind them. So, I was fortunate once again, in the response time of the emergency services. In contrast, a fellow club member took a fall last summer on a road in the foothills just south of here, and lay off the edge of the road for three hours before someone noticed her.

The firefighters handed me off to the ambulance folk, who determined that I could sit up, which I was in favor of since it made breathing easier. The police asked if there was anyone that needed to be called, so I gave them my wife's business number. After some discussion we decided on which emergency room to take me to, my normal hospital with my primary care MD just a few miles out of the ambulance's range.

One of the policemen said he was putting my bike in his cruiser and that I could pick it up at the station later. He then put in the call to my wife, which I wish I had asked him for the phone so I could do it. I mean, who likes to hear, "Hello, this is the Hillsborough Police. Your husband has been in a bicycle accident," giving her the split-second opportunity for imagining the worst before he went on to say, "He's OK, would you like to talk to him?" Of course she did, so I was able to tell her that I thought it wasn't too bad, that my ribs were messed up, but I assumed I'd be released later that day. Apparently my normal optimism was at work, because I was still thinking that the pains in shoulder and hip weren't anything serious.

By this time I was loaded into the ambulance, and elected to remain sitting up, since reclining made breathing harder. We drove off, through the twisty foothill roads, while one paramedic attempted to get a needle into an appropriate vein to start a drip. One thing about my physiology is that there are no easy veins to find (lucky for me I'm not a heroin addict). After about three miles she gave up, for which I was thankful.

Thence into the ER, where the rest of my clothing was removed, various electrodes attached here and there, and where a nurse, after four attempts in different spots, got a needle in. Luckily for me my Hind knickers were thick enough not to tear, so all my road rash on hip and leg was free of grit. No scrubbing! Off to radiology, then back to a side room since my original room was needed to hook up a chest pain admittance.

While I was waiting for the Xray results, my wife arrived, having gotten a ride from a coworker (she normally takes the train, so was without wheels). Then we got the word on the injuries, which was more than we expected. Especially because of the lung injury the hospital wanted me to stay overnight to see if it would reinflate on its own. So then I waited until a room was available--which turned out to be in pediatrics. However, my roomate was a fellow my age, 56, who had had a hip replacement that morning. Since we both snored at about the same volume, we figured we lucked out.

An Xray the next morning showed the lung making a comeback, so the doc released me with an order to get a followup Xray two days later to be sure things were progressing in the right direction.

So, that was a month ago. I consider myself very fortunate. I seem to be mending very quickly. One club friend fell last summer and had his first ride just last weekend. The weekend following my accident, my club had a memorial ride for a good friend who died in a similar fall in December; the ride attracted 60 members. When I think of these falls, and of the falls that folks on Bike Forums have taken, I know I am very fortunate.

So far, the most expensive part of this event has been replacing my helmet. My Giro Boreas is crumpled on the right side, with scrapes indicating that I was going directly downhill when I hit. It did its job, and I had no whiplash or neck problems of any sort. It cost $19.97 to fix the bike. Fortunate, again, and again.

Now that I'm more mobile, I need to track down the guys from the construction site and treat them to something.

Anyway. I'm happy to be back on Bike Forums, and champing at the bit to get back on a bike (by the 28th, I hope).

supcom 02-12-04 11:09 PM


...some members of the crew put orange traffic cones around me...
I have this vision of you lying on the road, cones in place, with a disinterested flagman waving traffic around.

At least they didn't use a backhoe to load you into the ambulance.

Seriously though, I'm glad to hear you're making a rapid recovery.

Richard D 02-13-04 03:37 AM

Glad you're making a good recovery. I know what you mean about optimisim after an accident - I don't think my wife has forgiven me for telling her I'd just had a little accident and thought I'd bruised my arm..

Take care - Richard

chewa 02-13-04 06:03 AM

Best of luck with the recovery Unca. You'll need your lungs back to full puff for the bagpipes!!

Glad to hear you're recovering too Richard.

landrover 02-13-04 07:34 AM

Glad to know you're on the mend...good to know you haven't given up on Biking...:)

LittleBigMan 02-13-04 09:04 AM

Unca Stewart,

I'm glad to hear you're recovering quickly!

I can relate to much of what you wrote about, having landed on my face after being knocked out of control by a pedestrian who decided it would be fun to punch a cyclist. When I blocked (bad move,) my arm contacted his and it was like clipping a handlebar on a stationary object. My front wheel turned 90 deg. threw me over the bars.

I remember getting up and seeing four women staring at me, asking me if I was ok. One remarked (quite inappropriately) that it looked like my teeth had gone through my lip. I was dazed enough to think, "Oh, she can't be serious." Little did I know my face was covered with blood. My teeth had not actually gone through my lip, but I had a handsome gash under my nose, like when a tomato splits on impact. I guess it's the mercy of our construction that we don't always feel all the pain until later, at least, that was my experience.

Had that similar brief interview with a policewoman as the ambulance unloaded a stretcher, which was when it began to dawn on me this was more serious than I realized. Dazed as I was, I had the presence of mind to ask the officer to be very careful how she broke the news to my excitable wife. She began the phone conversation (I learned later) with, "Mrs. Clark, first let me tell you that your husband is ok." That didn't go over too well, either. There's just no good way to report bad news, I guess. Like you, I was grateful for the quick response time, which was probably due, in part, to the efficiency of that ambivalent invention, the cell phone, and the close proximity of emergency response teams in that neighborhood.

Wishing you a complete, rapid and relatively pain-free (in so far as that's possible) recovery, brother-man.

bac 02-13-04 09:12 AM

You didn't have to crash and get hurt to post here again! <kidding, of course>

Wow, the entire ordeal sounds REALLY painful. I'm happy to hear that you are doing better now, and on the mend. It must have given you, and your wife a real scare that day. You do have a great story to tell, now, and you sound like you will be back on the bike @ some point.

Good luck with your recovery!

naisme 02-13-04 09:25 AM

Good to hear you're on the mend. I had a fall this winter doing something stupid, crossing a frozen lake on a bicycle. It went from under me, and I lay for a moment wondering if everything was alright. That anxious moment as body parts check in, fingers, arms, toes, legs, back, head, can we stand? Once back on the bike and chuckling at my good fortune, cause I know I was going to tell everyone at work. I did, and one of the nurses said one day they'd be packing me in an ambulance. Hope not.
Speed to your recovery, and quit lurking.

lotek 02-13-04 09:34 AM

Unca Stewart,

Kinda wondered where you've been.
Glad to hear your on the mend, and that your injuries
weren't too serious. Condolences on the helmet.


Stubacca 02-13-04 09:34 AM


Originally Posted by supcom
I have this vision of you lying on the road, cones in place, with a disinterested flagman waving traffic around.

:roflmao: I had the same mental picture when I read the post....

Glad to hear you're recovering well, though some of those injuries sounded nasty!! Always bad to crash, but I'm sure it'll be great to get back on the bike.

LittleBigMan 02-13-04 09:36 AM


Originally Posted by bac
You didn't have to crash and get hurt to post here again! <kidding, of course>

Don't make him laugh, Bac!


SteveE 02-13-04 09:50 AM


Glad to hear that you're on the mend! I had not heard about your crash. Are you still going to be able to lead any of the rides you've got planned for this spring? Does this mean that Sam gets to captian the tandem?

Hope to see you on a club ride real soon, although I haven't done a weekend club ride for a while.


UncaStuart 02-13-04 11:35 AM

Thanks for all the good wishes (and the humor--ouch! [kidding! kidding!]); makes me realize how much I missed the community here.


Prosody 02-13-04 04:09 PM

Glad you're on the mend. And gee, I've been moaning and groaning because problems with my neck--disks degenerating because I'm always getting older--have kept me off the bike for just over a month. I admire your ability to cope with your injuries and reflect upon them. Welcome back!

Jean Beetham Smith 02-13-04 09:14 PM

Scary crash. Glad to hear you are mending well. Good helmets are worth everything you pay for them at times like that. So should we all be wearing teflon coated tights? Get better, and keep checking in.

Chris L 02-13-04 09:21 PM

Glad to hear you're on the way back, just take time and make sure everything is 100% so you don't do it any further damage.

Revenig 02-13-04 10:39 PM

Happy to see you back on the forum. We've missed your insight. Sounds as though the mending process is going well and I'm sure you'll be back on your bike in no time.

Good Luck,

RiPHRaPH 02-14-04 12:37 AM

hope you're mending well, both mentally and physically. i was hanging on your every word.

when i had my 'major mishap' 2 years ago, i slid through a slick intersection, and right under a cable t.v. truck that had blown through the 4 way stop and didn't see me. i am laying at the rear wheelwell of this van, still clipped in to my ride (i slid into 2nd about 20 yards) thinking two things:
-please don't drive or back up
-geez, i hope my bike's ok.

i blew out both tires. just then 2 dogs came out of nowhere and started barking and being really aggressive to me. people were shooing away the dogs so i could catch my breath.

it certainly pales in comparison to your adventure. i'm glad our crazy uncla stu is ok.

khuon 02-14-04 02:05 AM

Glad to hear that you're healing up well. I live on a similarly hilly area up on a plateau with 9%-12% grade roads my only option for getting up and down. I sometimes have thoughts about that kind of mishap while descending the hills. Since I live in a heavily trafficed area too, I also followup my thoughts with, "if I go down, I hope no one runs me over at 45MPH", as I take the middle of the right hand lane at those speeds and there are normally cars stacked behind me. Admittedly, I don't attempt those descents when it's wet or inclimate. I usually chicken out and transport my bike to the bottom, park in the parking lot of the shopping center at the base and start and end my ride there. That said, I think your accident could have happened even under the best of weather conditions and could happen to me too rain or shine. I'm glad your helmet saved you from head injuries. Get well soon.

UncaStuart 02-16-04 11:59 AM

Thanks again for the kind words--and crash stories. It's gotta be love if we swing a leg over get pedalling again as soon as possible after kissing the pavement.

Looking forward to the 28th

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