Paying the piper

It finally happened — I pushed it too far on the bike and bought the farm. Mike and i took a ride out Redwood Rd. to go to a gear shop in Castro Valley. Had a great Mexican lunch. On way back, we were really flying – felt so good to be on familiar twisties again. Was thinking how nice it is that the bike is finally all broken in and that I’ve found my zen with it.

Was in a decreasing radius left-hander doing about 45 when the turn suddenly got much tighter. Cranked it over harder, but started to freak out when I realized I was getting too close to a drainage ditch at edge of road. Because I couldn’t lean any farther with confidence, I should have been pushing down sideways on the bars to eek out a few more ounces of angle. Instead, I panicked and tapped the front brake. That’s all it took to stand it up, which sent me straight into the ditch.

Rambled through the ditch for a few feet, then the front tire bounced out and caused the bike to catch air and sail back toward the road. Bike came down nose first at an angle and i went head first over the handlebars. Had a moment to think about how to roll. Landed on my left shoulder and elbow, plus side of helmet. The bike came crashing down behind me with an evil, expensive sounding noise.

I immediately jumped to my feet and out of the road, then realized the bike was at the end of a blind curve and liable to be run into by a car or to become an obstacle for another bike. I went to it and grabbed the handlebars and tried to lift it. As soon as I pulled, I felt a rippling run through my upper left arm and something felt like it was out of place. The pain was pretty intense and I sat down on the side of the road. Everything was chaos. Realized later that I probably started the arm fracture in the crash but actually broke it trying to lift the bike.

Mike had been right in front of me, and though I knew he couldn’t see it happen, I knew he would turn around soon and come find me. Minutes later, another biker stopped to help me out. He was able to get my bike out of the road and to a pullout on the other side. It looked pretty messed up. Another guy showed up, then another. Some bicyclists were there. I started to come out of shock and was sweating like a pig. One guy had some medical experience and did some coherence and visual tests – I was fine, or at least didn’t have a concussion. But the pain in my upper arm was really starting to kick in. A bicyclist gave me 800mg of ibuprofen. Had a few sips of water.

Somewhere in the middle of all this someone rode down to the ranger station to call the paramedics. They arrived 15 minutes later followed by the CHP. More questions and more tests, then climbed into the back of the ambulance — first ambulance ride. CHP wrote up an incident report.

Went to Alta Bates emergency room where the interminable waiting began. Was in there for hours. Finally took x-rays. Big fracture running diagonally across my left humerus. Amazingly though, everything is in tact and in alignment. Doc predicts it will heal nicely but will take time.

Amy and Mike showed up around 10:30. Mike had taken care of having the bike towed down off the mtn. Amy had been teaching and saw Mike arrive with tow truck. She was worried sick. She has always been so worried for me and this is the last thing I wanted to put her through. But she was a trooper.

Finally got sent home with a splint and sling, a bottle of vicodin, and a prescription. Had fertility duty, then slept fitfully. Today it’s all still sinking in, what it means to be pattially disabled for the next 8 weeks, what I did wrong, how it could have been avoided.. Every little thing is a goddam hassle now (like buttoning my pants), and I need to start making money. Life is so weird. Went to see orthopedist and he said I wouldn’t need a full cast — just the sling and another x-ray in 12 days.

Pretty ironic that I just finished a 3500 mile ride without incident, then all this happens on a 50 mile afternoon jaunt. Helmet will probably have to be replaced. Jacket is deeply gouged but still viable. Aerostitch looks fine. Protective gear saved my life today. Head would have been smashed open without the helmet. Bike will need quite a bit of work and I can’t afford that until I’m working again. I won’t be riding for a while. May even make a bigger decision about riding. Can I trust myself to reign it in?

I’ve typed this out one-handed, hunt and peck. It has taken a long time. I’ll have to get used to it.

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