Crash and burn – Lessons learned

2014-05-26 16.37.56My husband loves mountain biking. It’s HIS thing. I’ve gone out in the past and enjoyed being in nature, but I’ve always been a little terrified of the downhill and way out of shape on the uphill. That terror/panting feeling made me be ‘gracious’ and bow out when asked if I wanted to go biking with him.

But this year, I determined to overcome my fears and become proficient at biking so I could go out more with him. This spring was perfect weather, so I’ve gone out every week and improved a ton each time, gradually leaving the bunny trail for more difficult rides. I can honestly say I’ve caught the Biking Bug.

On Memorial Day, we went up to Bogus Basin Mountain with a bunch of friends to do the Stack Rock trail. I feared I would be the worst biker in our group (and I was), but no one taunted me. Lots of others had to walk up or down steep, technical parts, so I had good company. It was an awesome trail—all up in the pines and shady—lots of ups and downs, but not grueling distances that wore us out (except right at the end). After reaching Stack Rock, I felt on top of the world.

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When we turned around and headed back, that last uphill now became a pretty intense downhill that made me nervous…but I balanced-stood on my pedals and maneuvered my way down carefully, going pretty slow. Eventually I finished that series of hills and breathed in relief. I’d conquered the most difficult part of the trail.

But standing and balancing like that while throwing my butt back behind my seat for so long had made my muscles scream, so I sat on my seat to relax…and that’s when it happened. I crashed and burned.

I hit a sandy spot, and since I was being lazy and sitting in my seat instead of behind it like I should have been, when the wheel turned in a 90 degree angle and stopped abruptly, I went sailing off the side and onto my shoulder. HARD!

My head hit right after, but I had a helmet, so that was good. But my shoulder and arm throbbed. Thankfully, my husband was behind me, so he took care of me…and here’s what I learned:

  1. Trauma makes you not care about what you look like. You could have dirt and snot smearing your face, and you could care less.  You don’t even care if someone lays you in the dirt where bugs can crawl on you. It’s weird how little you care about things you might usually freak over.
  2. Trauma makes you stupid. I know about shock and how to treat it, but I fought my poor husband about laying down because I knew I had to hike out of there and we were2-3 miles from the trailhead. I wanted to start back, but was so dizzy from shock that I kept almost passing out. Like I said…stupid!
  3. Your body can do things you normally wouldn’t be able to do when you know there is no other choice. After my husband forced me to lay down, I did get over the dizziness and hiked miles to get back to our vehicle. I cradled my arm to my body, and grit my teeth (except for when I smiled for the camera) and walked despite the pain (something I would never consider doing on a normal day)
  4. When you are in trauma, you only feel the worst pain. Lesser pains don’t register. After we got down the mountain and to the ER, it turned out I had fractured my humurus (near my shoulder). I also gouged a valley out of my arm below my elbow. I never realized my arm was all torn up though until my husband took a picture of it in the hospital to show me before I got stitches. (I’ll spare you the grossness)
  5. All the doctors and nurses at the hospital must be mountain bikers too, because they all asked what trail I had ridden, and were familiar with it.
  6. Because the doctors and nurses are all mountain bikers, I should know what  kind of bike I ride for next time, because my answers to “What kind of bike do you have?” were all lame:
    1. A blue one
    2. Jelly (that’s what we named the bike)
    3. Whichever bike my husband pumped the tires up on
  7. In case you don’t know, my answer should have been something better like:
    1. A hard tail Specialized
    2. A carbon fiber something (Hmmm? I’d have to pick my husband’s brain for more descriptors. I’m really clueless. Just know that all the answers in #6 are not cool, and these  alternatives aren’t much better)
  8. People are super nice. Friends dropped off meals, or pineapple popsicles (which I’m afraid I’m addicted to now), or just dropped by to ask about my accident…which is a whole lot more fun to tell in person than typing it for this blog post with one hand.
  9. Trauma drains you of all energy about 3 days after the fact. I thought I was good to go back to work 2 days after this. Big mistake. I didn’t leave the couch for about 4 days after that as my body taught me a lesson.
  10. I don’t want to fall off my bike EVER again…even if I learn the correct answer to what kind of bike I ride to tell the biker ER doctor and nurses.

Will I mountain bike again? You bet. Remember, I got bit by the Biking Bug. It’s an incurable disease, but I’m okay with that. I love how much scenery I can see on the mt. bike compared to hiking…like this….

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and this…

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I’m just going to watch the trail a little closer and not get lazy on any downhill sections once I can bike again. While I’m grounded, I might study up on bike lingo so I know more than just the color of my bike.

What about you? Have you ever crashed and burned? Do you know what kind of bike you ride? Can you get dressed with one hand, because I find it very difficult.


40 thoughts on “Crash and burn – Lessons learned

  1. That’s a bug I haven’t caught. My brother is an avid rider and he has the scares to prove it. I’ll stick with my Julia Roberts Eat Pray Love mode of bicycle riding. My front basket is too cute 🙂 Hope you’re feeling 100% real soon. I look forward to more stunning photos from your rides.

    • Those baskets are cute; I won’t lie. I’m hoping to get some video back from my son-in-law. He had his GoPro camera and got some great shots of some of our rides. I’ll post when he sends that to me.

  2. Sending healing prayers your way. I love the pictures and look forward to seeing more. Congratulations on getting dressed with one hand, I have trouble getting dressed with two 😉

    • Thanks, Michele. It is harder than I thought to dress one-handed. I don’t really like it and am tempted to act like a pioneer and wear my clothes for a week at a time.

  3. Char!! I’m glad you are okay!! No concussion, then? You be careful! Having said all of that, I admire you out there working hard and exercising like that. Good job. I’m very impressed!

    • And now I’m doing absolutely no exercise at all. It is very depressing. At least I can start working on mobility of my arm in 2 more weeks (after gaining back everything I lost this year because of those addicting popsicles). Wah!

  4. Such a fascinating way to share. In spite of the crash being bad news…….your writing about it is totally engaging! I am sorry you are in pain.

  5. ACK! I have the same fear you had, Char. KUDOS on making the decision to conquer the fear. I’m so glad that crash and burn didn’t quench your thirst for more mountain bike adventures. Those pics and the scenery are AMAZING!

    I keep blaming my fear on the bike manufacturers who ‘reinvented’ the basics of bicycles. I was constantly on my bike as a kid — “Look! No hands! And, I went around the block this way!”

    Why did they have to make the wheels skinny, put brakes on the handles (instead of the good ole’ back pedal), and add gears?

    I missed an opportunity to ride down Haleakala when we went to Hawaii. I STILL regret that decision.

    Heal to ride another day!

    • I’m jealous you could ride without hands as a kid. I never could do that, and still can’t lift my front tire up while riding to go over obstacles. I come across a large root or something and have to get off to get over it. Hawaii would be fun. I saw a guy mt. biking some trail in Kauai that we were hiking and wouldn’t touch that ever though…too slick with the mud.

  6. You are so amazing. And I am totally impressed that you plan to get back on a trail on wheels.

    I did crash once, the first time I really rode a bike as a kid. My elbow was scraped up good.

    I have also crashed a car and gone into shock. I thought I was quite funny during the ambulance Too bad I can’t remember much of the whole thing.

    You WALKED OUT!?!?! I know you had no choice, but really I walk 3 miles most days. It is a long way while in pain.

    I don’t remember anything about my bike either except it is turquoise and not as nice as any of Tad’s. But I do know it is impressive if you can let a little tidbit about componentry trip off your tongue right after the carbon fiber comment. Something like, “It is a carbon fiber frame with SRAM XX1.” They will be impressed. Hopefully so impressed that you won’t have to tell them anything about what gear set up you have on your drive train. Or you can just memorize words from the SRAM advertisement to whip out like I just did.

    I hope you heal and get back to two handed typing again soon.

    • Wow!. I’m jealous you know more componentry than I do. Brian did tell me that my bike was neither a Specialized or carbon fiber anything after he read this. I did get hard tail right though. Woohoo!

      • True Confessions: I asked Tad what was high end for mtn bikes. But I have heard it enough to know how to construct the sentence and sound intelligent. I can also speak Java programming. Have no idea what I am saying, but I sound cool.

  7. Holy cats, you’re lucky. I’m not fond of biking because it hurts my knees. I have crashed and burned while skiing however. Right into the woods. Ski patrol happened to be coming along at that time, but I wasn’t hurt really. My friends all saw it happen, and once I was determined to be okay, they wouldn’t stop laughing.

    What beautiful photos of a gorgeous area. I would love to hike those trails, not bike them. 🙂 Sending you wishes for a speedy recovery!

    • They would be fun to hike too. That’s probably all I can do once I can walk far again. Right now even walking hurts because it jars my arm.

  8. So, so sorry to hear about your injury! A fractured humerus? Yikes. (Good on you for wearing a helmet!!) But how cool that you put yourself out there. You’ve inspired me to join my husband more on his biking jaunts, though none will be on treacherous terrain like yours was (we have a beautiful trail that extends from Akron to Cleveland just a couple miles from our house; the national park it courses through is lovely).

    I hope you heal quickly!

    • That sounds like my kind of trail if it’s nice and flat. I would love to bike back east where the forests are so lush.

  9. Yikes! I can’t believe you hiked all the way back to your car with a broken bone! (and even smiled for the camera!) I think I would’ve been bawling like a baby and insisting that an ambulance come and pick ME up! (maybe even an air ambulance!) Good for you! You are very brave and held it together!
    I hope you recover quickly! Take it easy and baby yourself for the next few weeks! (you have a really good excuse!) Glad you are okay!

    • I would have had to wait for hours and hours for an ambulance lying down in the dirt with the bugs…and they might still had me walk out since I hadn’t broken a leg or anything and the trail is so uneven and narrow. I will baby myself…and maybe send my daughter for some more fruit popsicles to splurge on.

  10. I have crashed and burned, but not to the extreme you did to yourself. I have gone over the handlebars twice and fell sideways multiple times. I still get on to ride again though 🙂 Here’s to a Speedy Recovery Sweetie!

  11. I’m so glad you’re okay, Char! I haven’t caught the biking bug yet, but have tried riding before and crashed a few times 😦 I love points 5 & 6 – I also would have given the colour of the bike instead of the make and model LOL 😀

    • I think you have to be into biking pretty hard before you describe your bike by anything but color…or maybe empty your wallet on a sweet bike, then you remember all those pretty words.

  12. Oh goodness, poor you! But how are you managing to look so cool and glamorous in that photo with your arm in the sling?! I love biking but I’m not a brave or confident biker at all, I only go occasionally and stick to pretty safe and simple places – mostly we go to this nature reserve close to us which has a lovely smooth cycle path, and some “off-road” areas that are not too treacherous! In fact, you can see a couple of pictures of it in a blog post I did a couple of years ago about it, hang on………………

    I know what you mean about lesser pain not registering when you have a big pain – I think it’s also to do with your attention being elsewhere, not just because of the pain being bigger. I’m a real wuss with pain, like a tiny cut or scrape and I’ll be making a big fuss, but sometimes say if I’m doing something quite physical, like work in the yard/garden cutting things back and ripping things out, later I find all kinds of cuts and scrapes on me that I hadn’t been aware of doing at the time because my attention was all on the physical aspects of the job I was doing.

    • I remember that post. I like smooth, paved trails best, but I have started to like the downhill rush of going fast and the wind whipping past you. I just don’t like sand and gravel. Take them away!

  13. My husband and I recently started talking about biking…so, we’ll see! The pics of your views are definitely a good reason. I love that you named your bike Jelly. 🙂

    • The views are amazing. I want to be back out soon. So you two should do it. Just bike carefully (even if your muscles hurt)

  14. Whew, smart you for wearing a helmet! Even just riding on easy trails or sidewalks, my husband and I always wear ours.

    These days, I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try the trail that you did! But when I was a young teen, I did a lot of horseback riding and took my share of spills. Some were nasty, although I never broke any bones. I literally did always “get back on the horse.”

    Take care of that arm, and be sure to follow through diligently with the physical therapy—you don’t want to lose any strength or mobility!

  15. Oh my gosh, I am in pain just reading your ordeal! I hope the painkillers worked because you must have had some painful first few days. I hope you get to recover fast but it sounds like it’s going to take quite a while to be back to normal. By the way, I can’t believe you’d want to do that again!

  16. I definitely don’t want to crash again and will probably avoid the more technical trails when I bike again. This third week has seen a lot of improvement with pain and getting some movement back. I’m excited.

  17. Oh my goodness! I feel like such a heel for completely missing this!
    I didn’t know until I read your latest post this morning–it had me searching for the details.
    First of all, glad to know that you’re healing (I sneaked peeked your first paragraph) and secondly–you made me feel better about so many things.
    That could have been me on that trail. Actually, no…it couldn’t have been because I’m still too chicken and worried about being the worst biker in the group. There’s just something very intimidating about it. Now, that I see you’ve conquered it AND you plan to go back…perhaps, I’ll reevaluate, too.
    I do hope that you are healing up and feeling better…a busy bee like you can never stay down for long. I’ll be sending you happy vibes and healing thoughts. xo

    • I really do want to get back out on my bike. I get a little jealous every time my husband heads out without me now and I have to stay home. Don’t be scared of being the heel in the biking group if you go out. Mountain biking people are the nicest people. They’re just happy to have you along and don’t mind waiting for a new person to get the hang of it.

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