I sat in my coach’s car, asking things like: “are we going to the hospital, my house, or your house?”, “when will I be able to get on my trainer?”, and my personal favorite “this is the dark side of the sport, huh?” My coach Ron Peterson, having scooped me up off the bike path after I refused the ambulance ride, confirmed that yes, crashing is the dark side of the sport. When Brandon asked me if I would like to write a blog post about my crash, my initial reaction was “oh no, this is not the sort of thing we share.” For every high in sport, there seems to be an equal low. Because it would seem misleading to write about only the good, here is the low that I’ve experienced for the last month.
I was cruising down the bike path in my aero bars on a quiet morning when I saw a child and his mother riding single file and let them know that I would be passing. As I begun to pass in the other lane, allowing what I thought was a safe distance, the child suddenly went to make a U-turn. I had nowhere to go, no time to react other than yelling “what the ____!” Next thing I know, I slam on the round bone just below the hip. Turns out I fractured that bone, the trochanter. But at the moment, I didn’t know how badly I was hurt. All I knew was that I wasn’t taking a $1700 ambulance ride to sit in the hospital being poked with needles. So some minutes later, I was still in the bike path, attached to my bike, and on my phone calling Ron. While he drove down, I had the good fortune of my friend who is an ER doctor passing by and offering her help.
Then the choices began. People tell you that you have no choices or control with injuries. The healing will take its time and course. Ron knows I need choices, I need to feel like I am in control even when I am not. First the choice of how to get to his car, then where to go. The choices ended when I stopped being rational and pleaded not to go get X-rays. After getting those, my dad brought me back home where my family tried to move me onto a mattress in the entry way. The pain was too excruciating, and my body began to go into shock. My mom thought I might die, and I honestly didn’t know if I could take it. So I called Ron and told him just that. A quick chat latter and we had me covered it blankets and resting ion the floor. With the exception of a visit to an orthopedic surgeon the next day, for a week, I would not move from a mattress in that entry way. Not to eat, not to drink, not to go to the bathroom. It was Percocet every 3 hours and my family showing the kind of love that only they could.
After just over a week, I was back to the ortho who cleared me for physical therapy with Mark Payares and for easy rides on the trainer. Ride time! You have no idea how excited I was. Until I crawled on my trainer and tried to pedal. At first, I couldn’t get over the top of the pedal stroke without stopping in immense pain. But day by day the rides got longer and stronger and the pain got less frequent and less severe. I had a choice, and I chose to ask my body for a little more as it would give signs that it could. I could have waited until I was pain free to ride, it might have been wiser, but it wasn’t the choice I made.
One month post crash, with Mark’s physical therapy, hellish and happy moments, support of too many riding friends to count, endless love from my family, and some part of me that I will never understand that says the highs are worth these lows, I’m happily riding 2+ hours on my Kurt Kinetic trainer each day and taking pride in the little victories like graduating from mattress to wheelchair to walker to crutches to one crutch. Because you do have a choice: you can choose to be miserable and hate the world because you are a bit broken or you can choose to be grateful for the opportunity you have to do what you love despite its dark side.