On Cycling Crashes
So it’s now three months since The Incident – i.e. doing an endo on my road bike at about 35 kph. Full disclosure: two km into my first club ride with Sarum Velo I decided to shift from the brake hoods to the drops to negotiate an upcoming turn, and (it would appear) hit the brake lever in the process. One moment happy, the next moment upside down skidding down the pavement on my soft pink skin. It was, said the following riders, spectacular.
The result of a moment’s inattention was two broken bones, a bunch of road rash and a whole lot of torn muscles. I have broken a fair amount of bones in my day – these were #10 and 11 I believe – mostly as a result of excess enthusiasm (Broom-i-Loo comes to mind) and a broken rib or two is par for the course for cycling crashes. The fractured acromion was a new one. For those not up on anatomy the acromion is the bit of the scapula that connects to the collarbone at the self-evidently named acromio-clavicular (AC) joint. I was somewhat dismayed when my fortyish orthopedic surgeon stated that he had never seen a broken acromion – one is always more confident when they have seen a million of them! A bit of research showed why. Only 3% of traumatic injuries involve a fracture to the shoulder area, and of these only 3% include a broken acromion. If you break an acromion you are 20% likely to have been killed in the process. So OK, I this was a special one.
The result was eight weeks in a sling, then a gradual process of physio and strengthening. Tom, my Army-supplied therapist, is really good and as a triathlete he totally gets that I want to get back on the bike ASAP. He is doing his best to manage expectations, but sometime this week I am cleared to try a flat ride of 10-15 km.
The prognosis is full recovery, with the bone recovering full strength at the six month point, and full muscle strength (such as it is!) recovered after five months.
The Gios, you will be pleased to hear, has had a much easier road to recovery. The fine folk at Stonehenge Cycles have got her fully back to fighting form and she looks at me every day hoping to be let out of the barn.
So, is there a moral to all of this? Well, I could conclude that riding bikes is for the young and easily healed, but that ain’t happening. In the soft coddled lives that we lead there needs to be some sort of challenge to maintain a connection between the real world and the unreal virtual world where I write emails for a living. Riding a bike fast is glorious, but it wouldn’t have the same value if it didn’t have the element of real risk. To get all Kierkegaardian about it, fear, danger and occasional massive pain seem to be the price to pay to be in the real world, driving the horse cart home instead of falling asleep and letting the horse take the lead. Just the same, I could have gotten the same reality-value out of a near miss, so… perhaps a I will try to be a bit more prudent in future. At least until I’m back at race pace! 🙂
The easily fixable damage:
Selle Italia SLR saddle
Lazer helmet (though sadly not as perfect a match for my bike colours that the now-dented Bell Alchera on the right)
Internal bits of the shifters (Thanks to Campagnolo for making spare parts available, unlike that other component manufacturer…)
Brake hood covers (ditto)
Shifter cables and bar tape
My favourite jersey
My faithful 14-year old Cyclomaster 409 computer