Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Jens Voigt Doesn't Get Road Rash...

...the road gets Jens rash!  Ha!  (For those not familiar with road cycling, Jens Voigt is the Chuck Norris of the professional racing peloton.)

I, however, am not that tough.  Last Saturday, in my tenth year as a regular road cyclist, I experienced my first major crash.  I have had others of course--it is not a matter of if, but when bike accidents will occur--but, my previous accidents where at less than 1 mph...and there certainly was a component of humor in each of them.  This was different.

Here is what I learned:

1.  I was lucky!  My only injuries were superficial--road rash and bruising.  I did not hit my head and nothing was broken.  At around 30 mph, it could have been much worse.

2. Gloves are important!  They may help with cushioning during the ride and wiping away sweat, but they will certainly prevent road rash on the hands.  I am missing a few small chunks of flesh on my left hand--probably due to sharp rocks--and in areas that were not or were barely covered by the glove.  But, the area that took the most force in the fall on my palm is fine.  It was sore and red initially, but has no broken skin.  As I have heard, the hands take quite a long time to heal from road rash, but that has not been an issue for me.

3.  Bikes are tough!  I only had to adjust my front brake a little for the twelve-mile ride back to my car.  Otherwise, my bike only had superficial damage:  a spot on the rear tire I will have to monitor, some torn bar tape, and some broken plastic on the shifter.  A few screw turns and minor adjustments and I am good to go for another ride.

4.  My wife's knowledge of aromatherapy and herbal medicine has been invaluable!  With her help, I am healing quickly with no apparent complications.

5.  Beware of new routes!  We were riding a route new to me and relatively novel to the rest of the group, descending a significant hill that curved to the left.  There were five of us and we were fairly spread out.  I was fourth in line and was trying to widen the gap a bit because I could not see very far ahead, but the turn kept getting sharper and I was catching up as they decelerated.  While I was a little nervous, I think we would have been okay except for the...

6.  Gravel!  Sometimes s**t happens.  New route, old route, whatever!  You can never predict accurately what you will find on the roads.  Unfortunately, we cyclists are sensitive and vulnerable to imperfect road conditions.  In this case, a little gravel, possibly washed down the hill from a recent rain, threw two of us from our bikes and sent us sliding off the road into the poison ivy and a guard rail.

As I said, I was lucky.  So was my fellow rider, though he was affected more than I by the poison ivy, adding insult to injury.  However, it was a learning experience, one that will not soon be forgotten, even after the road rash has healed.

Side note: although I did not need it because I did not hit my head, I am glad that I had my helmet on.