Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Good Ride Gone Bad (with a Reasonably Happy Ending)

It was a beautiful Saturday morning for a bike ride. An excellent group of about 16 riders gathered at Fishback Creek to ride a route, designed by Jim Stevens, which took us down south of Avon, to Pittsboro, and then up to Lebanon. The first half of the ride was fabulous, but we never made Lebanon.

As the group was thundering up Pittsboro Rd, at the usual 25-28 mph pace, two dogs - yes, I know, sounds like last week's ride - suddenly jumped into the road. One of them took down Ken Green, who was right in front of me. Ken skidded and rolled on the pavement, while his bike flew threw the air. I went over the top of Ken, and up and over my handlebars, landing flush on my lower back. Ken was knocked cold and bleeding (though not profusely) from road rash on his face, arms, and pretty much everywhere. I was able to get myself up off the pavement after a couple of minutes, feeling not too much the worse for wear. My lower back was sore, and I my helmet was cracked in a few places on the inside, but I had no symptoms of concussion or other visible injuries. Ken had to be transported to hospital by ambulance, but I was able to ride home, thanks to Ingvar's brilliant roadside mechanical skills.

After a shower and lunch, my lower back, and especially my left hip, started (not unexpectedly) to tighten up to the point where I couldn't really walk (that is to say, I couldn't walk at all). When I mentioned this to Dr. Wilkes, whom I had called to check up on Ken, he ordered me to head straight to the hospital for x-rays, which luckily for the group turned out to be negative (I say lucky for the group because, had I suffered a fracture, they would never have heard the end of how I rode 8 miles home with a fractured hip). Anyway, I still really can't walk, but at least I now have some decent pain meds. And I can sit or lie quietly with relatively little discomfort.

While in the ER, I stopped in to visit Ken, who was still looking pretty banged up, but already was starting to benefit from his pain meds. He was discharged from the hospital while I was still waiting for my x-rays. I sure he's resting, if in considerable discomfort, at home now.

Bottom line: Ken and I will both live to ride another day, although probably not within the next week or so in my case, and maybe a bit longer (because of the concussion) in Ken's case. I should add special thanks to the docs, nurses, and lab techs who took excellent care of us at St. Vincent's.

No doubt, you are all still wondering about the most important issue: what about our bikes?  My sense is that both bikes survived the crash pretty well, but both will need some repairs and/or new parts. Ken's right brake lever, for example, landed quite some distance from the rest of his bike after the crash. Amazingly, Ken's new Hed Jet 4 wheels, which were ridden over by at least one other rider trying to miss the two of us lying on the ground, are good as new. My own wheels need truing, and the derailleurs require some fine-tuning. And, of course, Ken and I each need new helmets. Speaking of which, let this be a reminder to everyone to never, ever throw a leg over a bicycle without wearing a helmet.

A final word about the wonderful group of friends with whom I ride: It's always nice, of course, to have doctors in your riding group for occasions such as this. Dr. Wilkes was extraordinarily helpful today. But what is truly wonderful about this group is that everyone, all throughout every ride, is looking after each other. In fact, Karl, who rode me all the way home after the ride, said as much to me, almost presciently, about a half hour before the crash. When the crash happened, no one panicked or was in a hurry to get away; every single member of the group pitched in with phone calls to 911, mechanical assistance, picking up stray items, keeping Ken and me calm, and so on. The men and women I ride with on a regular basis are simply some of the best people I've ever met in any walk (or ride) of life. (And that's not just the Vicodin talking.)

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