I took a nasty spill on my bike recently during a ride with some friends. This was the third time in my life I’ve fallen off a bike, and it was a pretty good one so far as they go. I was riding down a pretty wide bike lane and I began to look back and to my right without first scanning ahead down the lane like I always do. I had just begun to look when suddenly I was airborne, out of nowhere it would seem. It was so quick and so violent that I had no idea what was really happening until I felt my helmet smack hard against the ground a few times.
Now I obviously didn’t get to see the accident take place. But from what I can ascertain from others, from my random snatches of memory, and from the placement of my wounds it seems that, since I was pivoting my body slightly to the right when I hit what turned out to be the discarded lid of a Coleman ice cooler, the bike and I both went flying sideways, my feet still gently grasped by the toe-clips. While I was in the air my body continued to spiral around to my right, so that, what felt like a nanosecond after I struck the lid, I landed mainly on the left side of my body, with most of the damage being done to my back and shoulder. A good bit of flesh was scraped off of my elbow and knee, too, just for good measure. And here’s how I know my yoga classes have been working: I also got a bit of road rash on my right inner thigh. I don’t even know how that’s possible.
My only real memory that I retained during the crash went something like, “holy shit! Am I in mid air?! I have no sense of where I am right now.” I closed my eyes instinctively. I felt like I was floating with no idea where my corporeal bits existed in space for the moment. When I hit the ground my mind, which had expanded outward in my spatial disorientation as it attempted to locate some point of reference, seemed to snap tightly into place right behind my left temple. It watched closely as my helmeted head knocked thrice on the road to make sure no actual damage was done. It ignored the feeling of my skin being dragged across rough, filthy pavement.
When I came to a stop and felt certain that I was mostly fine I opened my eyes to see my friend Jeremy hove into view with a very concerned look on his face. I stayed there for a minute and carefully moved around to make sure I hadn’t broken or dislodged anything. To my astonishment that seemed to be the case, though I was sure that I had still hurt myself pretty seriously, all things considered. I think that my having been taken completely by surprise helped my luck; that and going full rag doll. But none of that actually mattered because as soon as I knew I wasn’t going to the hospital I began to worry much more about my bicycle. Jeremy had pulled it away from me and set it aside, so I didn’t know what shape the old girl would be in.
I got up and located Judi off to the side of the road. The leather handlebar wraps were pretty torn up on the left side, but I didn’t see anything else really wrong otherwise. The front wheel had a very slight wobble so I’ll have to true that back up. It was rideable and I was still full of shock hormones, so I hopped on and finished the ride, albeit a shortened version. I made it back to Jeremy’s with about eight minutes of biochemical pain-dampening left, then it started to kick in.
I cleaned up my bloody wounds as best I could and checked out my body in the mirror. I took some ibuprofen and drank a bunch of water and chilled out while Jeremy kindly loaded my bike into his vehicle and drove me home.
I woke up in the middle of the night to pee and take another fistful of pills, but I was able to get in and out of bed by myself, so there’s that. The next morning I woke up feeling like the left half of my body was 25 years older than the right half. But again, I managed to make coffee and take the dog out and feed myself. I made a large ice pack from a bundle of Mr Freezy ice pops wrapped in a dish towel and that helped a lot. I will heal and I’ll be fine. I’ll have a bitchin’ scar on my elbow. I’ll definitely be more careful and more mindful when I’m riding around. Constant vigilance!
In the end the upper left half of my body was bruised and battered, but I was mostly alright. The pain that first day was the worst, but it got noticeably better each morning. I took it really easy since my left side was so much weaker than my right. Today I finally went for a ride around town, just over ten miles, no real issues to speak of. Which is great because tomorrow is looking like perfect bike riding weather.