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My bike ride turned into a helicopter ride

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

My bike ride turned into a helicopter ride

Old 12-20-06, 02:13 PM
  #1  
SesameCrunch
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My bike ride turned into a helicopter ride

I am a roadie at heart, but occasionally go out on the mountain bike just because they are so many lovely trails to ride around my area. On Sunday, I joined some friends on an "epic" ride from San Francisco to Mt. Tamalpais. We figured about 6 hours of trail climbs and descents in lovely Marin Conty. It was a cool, crisp day (temp in the 50's), sky was clear from the recent rains - picture perfect day for a long ride.

We had a total of 4 ridges to climb to make it all the way to the top of Mt. Tam. All was going well, I was feeling strong. Took a picture on top of climb #3 to commemorate the occasion and started down a steep single track trail down towards Muir Beach. I was being cautious (or so I thought), but I hit a large bump near the bottom and flew over the handlebars. Landed on my head, rolled on my left shoulder, skidded about 15 feet. I was conscious the whole time and can still remember things very clearly, like thinking "this is not good" as I felt my neck crunch and my helmet scrape my sunglasses along my nose.

My sister-in-law was right behind me and she happens to be an Emergency Room doctor. She made sure I didn't move my neck and did a preliminary check. Saw enough to call right away for 911. Luckily, there was a fire house at the bottom of the trail and they showed up in about 15 minutes. They strapped me to a gurney board and taped my head down. Since they didn't want to jostle me down a single track trail, they called a helicopter to lift me to a hospital. Did the whole ER, ICU thing. Was sent through X rays, CT scans, MRIs which confirmed a neck fractured, but nothing more. Fortunately, I had no spinal chord damage.

I am one lucky SOB. I'm lucky I had an ER phsysician right behind me. I'm lucky I live where there are emergency crews and equipment to rescue people. I'm lucky that the trauma center I was sent to had a Neuro-Surgery trauma speciality. I'm lucky I'm not going to be in a wheel chair to watch my son grow up.

So, to tie this to a road biking forum - NO more MTB riding for me. I have already given away one of my MTBs, and will get rid of the other one. From now on, just road riding, nothing fancy down hills, and stay away from cars. I am not taking any more risks than is necessary. Life is too precious.

Safe biking to you all!

Before picture - happy rider:

My camera was in my pocket and got busted so this is the only picture of the helicopter that I could get. Apparently, he landed in an area about 5'X5' to get to me.
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Last edited by SesameCrunch; 12-22-06 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 12-20-06, 02:17 PM
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glad your ok, you are very lucky.

Last edited by HAMMER MAN; 12-20-06 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 12-20-06, 02:19 PM
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Glad to see your in one piece.
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Old 12-20-06, 02:22 PM
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Glad you're OK. Road is more fun anyway.
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Old 12-20-06, 02:23 PM
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So glad to hear you're OK, and it sounds like your sister-in-law totally did the right thing. Very often people's first reaction is to sit someone up, etc. to make sure they're OK, and that can sometimes be disastrous.

Best wishes on a speedy recovery!
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Old 12-20-06, 02:36 PM
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Lucky man - and a great shot of the helicopter! Be safe out there
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Old 12-20-06, 02:37 PM
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wow, thank God you are alright.
Life is precious. I'm a nw dad and surely have a new perspective when i get out to ride roads.
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Old 12-20-06, 02:38 PM
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You're lucky! Glad you're all right. Welcome to the roadie crowd.
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Old 12-20-06, 02:55 PM
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Glad your OK! Funny how being a parent changes your idea of what is too dangerous. Before my son started riding with me all the time, I never would have dreamed of wearing a helmet. Now the combination of being a dad and reading too many reports like yours on this forum has me not getting on a bike without one! After a year of nagging and a local lady severely injured when she went over the handlebars on our local trail without a helmet, I am close to convincing my wife to wear one too. Now we just have to find one she likes . . . easier said than done.
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Old 12-20-06, 02:55 PM
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WOW!! Never thought I would say glad it was just a fractured neck but in this case I am, could have been much worse! So glad to hear you will be ok.

What is the recovery time for a Fractured Neck? Have to wear a Halo?

Ryan
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Old 12-20-06, 03:01 PM
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Glad to hear you made it through the crash in few enough pieces. Helicopter paramedics are the best of the best too, so you were in good hands. I'm surprised they taped your head down though, backboards usually come with velcro straps that go outside the pads and, when combined with a collar, are extremely uncomfortable because you can't move even if you want to.
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Old 12-20-06, 03:43 PM
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Very glad that you're okay!

... and he takes a pic of the chopper to boot!

YOU DA MAN!!

jw
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Old 12-20-06, 03:44 PM
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Glad you're okay; thanks for sharing the story with us. Best wishes for the holidays and for a speedy recovery.
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Old 12-20-06, 03:44 PM
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Holy Crap!
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Old 12-20-06, 03:48 PM
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Wow. I'm glad you are still alive.

Looks like the helicopter got there just in time, everything is starting to grow dark in the second picture. (Maybe you were just sleepy?)
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Old 12-20-06, 04:16 PM
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That's awesome that you felt like you needed to take a picture of the helicopter... awesome... my kinda guy.
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Old 12-20-06, 04:28 PM
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That helo pilot deserves some props
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Old 12-20-06, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike552
That's awesome that you felt like you needed to take a picture of the helicopter... awesome... my kinda guy.
Heh, heh, can't take credit for the helicopter shot. My wife had arrived on scene when the helicopter pilot started taking pictures because the perch was so spectacular. So I gave her the camera in my pocket and asked her to take some also. The camera lens cover was stuck, so the black part is the lens cover. Too bad she couldn't get better pictures of the scene. There were apparently 5 trucks there, plus the copter, and a fire engine and ambulance at the bottom of the hill. I haven't seen the bill for this event yet, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

My neck fracture was in the part of my spine that juts backwards, so there is actually not a lot they can do. Just let it heal by itself. Because it's not touching the spinal chord, there's not too much pain. I just have a lot of muscle-type pains from impact - in my neck, my back and shoulder. Plus a ton of road rash on my face and legs. Oh well, Christmas pictures will be memorable this year.

Thanks for all your kind thoughts. Keep safe out there.
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Old 12-20-06, 04:37 PM
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Wow. Good to hear you're okay.
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Old 12-20-06, 04:42 PM
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I'm thankful that you got out of there as well as you did. I had a motorcycle accident 2.5 years ago, and one of the main reasons I'm walking (and running/swimming and riding) today is that I didn't try to move once I hit. If I had tried to stand, I'd be in a wheelchair today.

Take it easy, and take time to heal. It gets better over time. Much better.
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Old 12-20-06, 04:49 PM
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Glad to hear that the prognosis is good.

I can totally relate to the "family now means that less risk" thing. I used to paddle open boat whitewater before getting married at 28. I don't do that anymore, although I would do the less risky stuff.
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Old 12-20-06, 04:52 PM
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Ah, well there's your problem - the full suspension bike. No need to give up MTBing, just get a hardtail and learn how to finesse you way around the trail, while picking beautiful singletrack rides. But I too gave gave up stupid foot drops and nasty rock descents long ago. If you think like a roadie on the MTB on how you ride and where you ride, there is probably less risk than road riding.

I won't get into the specifics, but its clear that full suspension has made true cross country riding a fading art form.

But seriously, happy alls OK.
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Old 12-20-06, 04:59 PM
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glad to see your okay.

from the look of that photo, your seat is too high for descending.
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Old 12-20-06, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by John Wilke
Very glad that you're okay!

... and he takes a pic of the chopper to boot!

YOU DA MAN!!

jw
+1 million!

You really need to name your next born child after your sister in law. Yes, even if it's a boy. Oh, what is her first name?

Another thing, I am a roadie, but all I have is flat land or otherwise it might be different. Don't immediately decide to dump mountain biking, think about it for a while. It looks like you have beautiful country to ride in. Also consider this, your sister in law is a smart enough person to become an ER doc. And she probably sees head/spinal tramas every day. Yet she rides mountain bikes.

Nearly every thing we do, worse case scenario, can be fatal. Yes we want to see the kids grow up, but we have to teach them too. All things in life are a risk, do we teach them not to take risks? Or do we teach them how to judge risks?

Sorry for the long post, I never post, only lurk. Your story and pictures made me respond. I am so happy for you and your family that you will be ok.

If nothing else please post more pictures

TJ
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Old 12-20-06, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by SesameCrunch
.... MRIs which confirmed a neck fractured, but nothing more. Fortunately, I had no spinal chord damage. ...

I am one lucky SOB. ...
Glad to hear you're OK. BTW, have them check again for a concussion. I think you took a blow to the head that has affected your judgment.

I think it is a matter of objective fact that crashing and breaking your neck automatically qualifies you as unlucky rather than lucky.....

Snapping a pic of the chopper -- you're one hard core dude. Wishing a speedy recovery.
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