Thursday, September 27, 2012

I was a Wreck!

The title suggests that I was in need of some rehab sessions, as in; "Where did Jim go? Oh, you know he had to be checked in for a few weeks."
No, it was nothing like that, No, I just had a bike wreck. Those of you that know me, know I like bikes. Not the shinny fast racers bikes that TdF guys race on, but slow comfy bikes to get you somewhere with a purpose. I'll never be mistaken for a racer dude. I like to commute to work on my bike and I would do it most days except the weather plays a role in where I live and I am not one of those people that proudly rides in any weather. I fact after this morning I am thinking my commute days might be drawing to a close for the season. I draw the line at about 30 degrees and never in the snow. We had 31 degrees and fog this morning.

Anyway I am off subject, the wreck. Three weeks ago. I was just starting my morning commute. I live on a dirt road on the top of a hill. Every six months or so the county comes through and grades the road and puts this oily compound on the roads to keep the dust down. There is about a 1/4 of a mile down this hill then it turns to pavement on Carriage drive and then out onto Fish creek road for my cruise into town. That morning I told myself that the road was graded and with the washboard gone, I told my self to keep my speed down. That is the last thing I remember until I was talking to Cindy, the ER nurse.

Here is what happened by talking with the fire guys and EMT guys who got to the scene and some speculation on my part. My neighbor is who found me as he was driving home. He called 911. He found me laying face down, unconscious, in the middle of Carriage Drive before it intersects on to FishCreek Road. The 911 call went in at 6:59. I left my house at 6:40 and this is about three minutes from there, so I was unconscious for about 15 minutes or so. Dave, from the volunteer fire fighters,was the first responder on the scene and when he got there I was just starting to wake up and move around. He asked me a few questions (like who I was and what day and month and year it was). I must have answered OK because they made the decision to take me to the local hospital instead of moving me down the valley to a big hospital. I don't know who the EMT's were or anything about the ambulance ride. I apparently must have asked Dave to take care of my bike and please put it back in my garage. This happened without me knowing it! In fact I really don't have too many memories of that whole day at the hospital.

My commuting machine, a Surly LHT. This is just up Fish Creek road about a 1/2 mile from where I crashed.
Whenever they put that compound on the roads the tire traffic will track it out onto the paved road and (did not know this!!) it can be pretty slippery. Dave told me that he almost fell down when he got out of his truck. So I am guessing that the bike slipped out from under me and I went down. My head and left side of my face must have hit first. I did not even have time to get my hand out which is good because I probably would have broken my wrist. I cracked my helmet almost into two pieces and my glasses had deep gouges where my eyes would have been. I ended up with a good concussion and broke the #1 and #2 ribs plus some road rash on my face, elbow, and both knees. All in all, lucky! Lucky I had a helmet on, glasses on, and was dressed warm for the commute in.
The aftermath? Three weeks later and the ribs still hurt, I have to have a couple of Advil's to get through the night to sleep at all. I'll know to avoid the days when they put that compound on the roads. I can ride a bike OK, basically pain free although I have a renewed sense of awareness while riding. I had become complacent while riding with a sense of everything was being taken care of. Don't fall into that trap!!! Be as vigilant as you were the first time you went out!!
This wreck was total human error on my part, I can't even blame anything like a careless driver!!! I'm back on the bike and loving it just as much, so it did not curb my enthusiasm for cycling. I'll just be more aware and careful, broken ribs are not something I want to do again!! I replaced my helmet and glasses so I am back on the commute as long as the weather holds up. I will continue to roll out for lunchtime mental health rides and weekend cruises, again, by grace of the weather.

I am a lucky, lucky man and revel in the joy and simplicity of a nice bike ride!


  1. Close call! Glad you're healing and still riding... I'll expect a visit (or maybe meet half-way) for some skiing this year-


  2. I think this is nothing short of a miraculous recovery Jim..... To get back on the bike and ride as quickly as you did has to be tough. Of course, just like the old cowboy told me the summer I worked on his ranch, "if it throws you, just get back up and get on it, pretty soon the old nag will get the idea"..... Easier said than done sometimes. Glad to see you here with a blog!

  3. Very nicely written, interesting blog, Jim. I will be looking forward to more posts from you here.