So remember how a few weeks ago while riding with Elden, my front tire washed out in some gravel and I crashed, taking him down with me? Well yesterday at lunch, on my second ride on my new bike, I was coming down Bobsled, a somewhat technical trail in the foothills above my office. I had made it through all the “hard” parts and was just rolling along, thinking about tweaking the air pressure in my fork to get the ride just right.
I came through an off-camber section that was covered with gravel, and with no warning whatsoever, my front tire washed out, and I hit the ground pretty hard on my left side.
My arm hurt pretty bad, so I decided to look and see how badly it was cut up. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. I didn’t think it was possible to be cut that bad in those circumstances. Unless, you know, someone took a hack at my forearm with a machete as I went down. I’m pretty sure the white part was bone.
After screaming in pain and frustration, teetering on the brink of panic and being rational, I was able to force myself to be rational and called Mark N. and asked him to meet me at the bottom of the trail and take me to the hospital. I mentioned he should probably bring some paper towels or something, because I was bleeding. Heavily.
Once at the hospital, they cleaned the blood around the exterior of the wound. The nurse doing the cleaning removed my glove, which was full of blood, and started wrapping it up to save it for me. I told her she could just throw it away. She said “I ride bikes—I know how expensive biking gloves are. You can wash it.”
They also hooked me to an I.V. and gave me some pain medication but denied my request for a coke, or anything to drink for that matter. Apparently they didn’t want to clean up anything but blood if they could help it.
I then went in for X-rays to make sure there wasn’t a fracture and there wasn’t any debris deep in the cut that they’d need to dig out.
X-ray turned up negative for fractures and deeply embedded debris, so they numbed things up and the real fun began—scrubbing the wound out with a brush. For the first time this fall, I was not happy about the leaves changing color, as apparently a good number of leaf bits had stuck to the inside of my arm.
Did I mention how grateful I am for local anesthetic? Because just cleaning around the wound was almost more than I could bear. I can’t imagine what the scrubbing would have been like had I actually been able to really feel it.
Once things were clean, the doctor stitched it back together. I asked him how many. “Fifteen,” he said. But that was an estimate, as I don’t think he was interested in going back and counting to be sure.
Through it all, Mark N. was really calm, the hospital staff pretended like it was no big deal, but I’d seen it, and I knew what it looked like. When my dad got to the hospital, he was the only one to have a proper reaction. If you want to have your own look, Mark was kind enough to snap a picture after they cleaned around the wound but before they cleaned the inside and stitched it up.
Best not to look at this if you’re eating lunch.
Or if you get squeamish around blood.
Or if small children are present.
Or if your wife is present and you’d like to be allowed to ride your mountain bike anytime soon.
See how I’m making sure you actually have to scroll to see the picture and it doesn’t show up right away?
That’s because I would never, ever want to see this photo if it weren’t of me, and I hadn’t already seen it.
I made it through an entire road racing season, which included about 20 crits, without going down. At Leadville, I had the 53rd fastest time out of over 1,000 racers descending Columbine mine, faster even than Chris Holley (if only by less than a second). And while there’s always room to improve, I don’t think my bike handling skills are all that bad.
Yet in the last few weeks, I have had two wrecks, both from my front tire washing out in gravel. I’m blaming the tire and will be getting a new one forthwith. It couldn’t possibly be my skills.
I’m just glad the doctor is better at doing stitches than I am at riding my mountain bike. But you want to know the worst part of this injury? I’m going to have to use those disgusting floss picks for the next two days.