Other People’s Crashes

Saturday was the day of a massive organized ride round these parts. They usually fill their allowed number and have a fair amount of riders who “crash” the ride (not literally, mind you, at least not yet). It’s a route that I frequent for my weekend rides. I like to do that big ride and have done it for the 2 previous years (through some crazy weather), but this year, did I do it? Nope, wasn’t “feeling it”. Perfect weather was predicted for the day, too. Figures.

I didn’t ride at all on Saturday, but a really good friend of mine was going to do the century and was looking forward to it. I thought about her during the day and for some reason, I kept getting this instinct that she wasn’t riding. Odd. So, I would keep dismissing that thought as it would arise. Finally in the evening, I decided to find out how the ride went for her and sent her an email.

I received a response not long after: “Well it not go as planned. I made it 4 miles and crashed. End up i the ER. Unconscious. Spent the day in Er. Home with bruies abrsions and cconcussion. Feel frre to stop by. Bike is ok.”[She forgot to mention the fractured C5 vertebrae, but hey…the fact she managed to type this crude note out on her phone was amazing considering the injuries she received. The concussion was nasty.]

Holy @#^%! I was shocked.

I went to see her yesterday around lunchtime, and as it turned out, she remembers swerving to miss something. (But what? She is not sure. We think it was a dog.) She remembers hitting a patch of gravel and then nothing else except the sensation of hitting the ground twice. We figured that she hit the road and then bounced into the ditch, where she was found unconscious approximately 10-15 min later by other cyclists.

“Bike is okay.” After getting over the horror of what happened to her and being thankful that she’s still around to recover over the next few months, we had to laugh about this comment. You know you’re a hardcore cyclist when you’re all torn up but want to know if your bike is okay. Well at least, it looks okay. The frame will get checked out by professional eyes just to make sure.

I left her house, emotionally impacted by her experience.

I had already planned a ride for later that afternoon. When the winds whipped up gusty and mean, a road ride was out. So, mountain biking it was. I met up with a few friends at the trails and headed out.

We got started on my favorite trail inside of the system that’s close to my house. With riders of all speeds, we waited for the others to catch up at one of the benches. A rider passes by us. We didn’t pay any attention. This is a busy trail system. Today was no exception. However a couple minutes later, we hear a sound. “What’s that?” We heard it again and realized it was someone calling for help.

A few hundred yards down, we came upon him. His wheel had caught in an odd spot, and he had toppled over. I keep gloves in my baggie with my phone and ID – mostly for road riding, just in case someone drops a chain. However, they came in handy because he was bleeding and wasn’t sure if he had broken his arm. He was woozy and the pain was just starting to set in. I don’t have a seat bag on my mountain and regretted that. B/c now I realized that keeping some first aid stuff in there (as I do in the one on my road bike) would be extremely helpful at a time like that. Thankfully, another rider approached us who had a large first aid kit in his backpack. To keep the story short – aside from some bruises, his worst injury was the puncture wound on the back of his arm – even that was only experiencing light bleeding. Thankfully. One of my friends opted to walk out with the injured guy b/c my friend was experiencing technical issues with both his front and rear derailers.

So…now, that’s two interactions that day with people who’d had two different types of crashes on two different types of bikes.

Since I hadn’t even had a decent “run” on the trail yet, I opted to go back to do another round. Friday (when I wasn’t even feeling energetic at all), I managed to set a PB on it, beating my previous best time by a minute and thirty seconds! So, I wondered what I could do when I was otherwise feeling good. I set another PB beating Friday’s time by 15 seconds. I would have beat it by probably another 15-30 seconds if I hadn’t been so unbalanced by my friend’s and the mtb guy’s crashes. Unbalanced – yeah, that’s exactly what I was. I kept losing my balance in small ways but so often, it was undeniable of its cause.

While I was happy with my new PB time, I was also concerned because I knew I was experiencing affects. So, I opted for the easier trails to finish up the day’s riding – thinking I was taking the safer option. However on one of them, there’s a spot that I don’t particularly like – where you have to ride rolling, curving, narrow “bridges”. “Gasp! Whoa!” That was close. Yep – unbalanced once again. I almost…but didn’t. Okay fine. I got my sign. I’m done.

Sure, we think that we can go on unaffected by other people’s traumatic events, but really? Not so much. Everything appears to be running smoothly but the “high voltage” coming off the other person you encountered earlier starts showing up in your own system. You think you’re fine until a zzzt here and zzzt there start to betray what’s happening under the surface.

Better to unplug entirely and let your system rest. So, I went home.