Bike & Build [North Carolina to San Diego 2009]

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

1st Bike WRECK. tango with road, love affair with helmet.

I had my first real bike wreck! Given how much it hurt to type that exclamation point, one would think I'd be less excited. While I'm not particularly happy about the resulting bodily damages, I do feel as though I'm a  legitimate cyclist now. Allow me to recap: 

Coming off of several weeks without riding, courtesy of my impending graduation from college, I chose to take it easy and do some short climbs around town. There's a road that comes up behind UNCA's campus to a really beautiful view, and before starting the very short, sloping descent, I stopped to adjust my saddle and return a call to my dad. I got back on my bike, shifted into a harder gear and went into the drops. Maybe .2 of a mile down the road, there is a turn in the road that is notorious for gravel. Sometimes it's better than others, depending on rain and traffic. I was feeling good, and I'd never had a problem there before, so I didn't think twice about it... until I started sliding. My front wheel started to go out to the right, and ahead of me, I saw a guard rail and a steep drop down into a mass of kudzu. So, what does any inexperienced bike-crasher do? I shifted all my weight to the left and fought against the fall. 

As far as I can tell, my left shoulder hit the ground first. Then my elbow, followed by my hip, thigh and shin, until *bonk* my head bounced off the ground like a rubber bouncey ball. All the while, I'm sliding from the middle of the road, where I've yanked my bike, to the far right side.

At no point was I unconscious. (God, I love my helmet!) I sat up, thinking about the pain from the road rash on my leg and then realized that it might just be a good idea to get out of the road. I stood up and sat on the side for a minute. Having been recently re-CPR-certified, I found it pertinent to ask myself if I knew who I was and where I was. Standing at very well-marked intersection, I thought that knowing my location was not a good indicator of the condition of my head, deciding instead that I needed to come up with another simple question to ask myself. But then, this was about as much focusing as I could manage, so I used my right arm to haul my bike out of the road. I began to question why my elbow hurt. Looking down, I noticed a lump where there really ought not to be one. It was about a half inch protrusion, a good half inch away from my elbow bone. This solidified my decision to call paramedics. 

In the interim, one guy in a red pickup stopped to see if I needed help. Grumpy, I told him I'd already called 9-1-1 and that I was fine. Then, another car stopped and a gentleman came out of the house I'd crashed in front of. They chatted for a minute, with me on the ground having the conflicting thoughts of "leave me alone, I'm fine," and "hellooo, I'm on the ground, need a little help here!" The guy in the truck drove off, with the woman in the car, to whom I later introduced myself (her name was Judy), getting me a bag of frozen vegetables. She tried to put them on my shoulder and I shook them off from the pain. Courtesy of overwhelming adrenaline, and the massive lump in my elbow, I didn't notice this at the time. The paramedics arrived shortly thereafter, fussing over my shoulder. My concern, was of course, the elbow. I felt safer with them there and by this point, my road rash was the least worrisome, so I experienced minimal pain. I cheered up, and, as I do in most times of personal crisis, I started joking with everyone there. "now that I've got road rash, I'm a legit biker." In any case, my shoulder showed no signs of bruising or punctures, so I declined ambulatory care and called a very reliable friend, Pat, to come get me. I would've called my man-friend, Adam, (boyfriend just seems so cliche), but he was on a group ride and I knew he didn't have his phone. 

In the car ride home, my shoulder was aching something awful. Lifting it up made this horrible clicking sound, with accompanying pain. I decided to end my blissful bike evening at urgent care. But, not before taking pictures of my road rash for my blog. :) In the end, I suffered only road rash and a separated shoulder. No broken bones, no head trauma. The doc said it could be anywhere from 72 hours to 6 weeks before the pain was gone. 

The structural integrity of my body was intact, though the same cannot be said of my helmet. Enjoy the pics!


  1. OUCH AMY!!! DADDY'S Girl bites the dust and has her first real case of road rash!! Watch out you'll end up in the sag wagon...
    Heal Quickly You Have A Long Road Ahead Of You!!

  2. Oh, nice. Scars make good conversations pieces. Good to see you're not seriously damaged. Learning how to fall is pretty key, so it's good to get it out of the way at home than in the middle of Arizona's desolace, or something.

    Taking care of the wounds is important, road rash heals pretty quickly and cleanly if you use Tegaderm instead of bandages. Gauze is no good, you'll end up peeling it off painfully along with your scab.

    My first big crash was last spring about the same time too: