Friday, May 9, 2014

The in-flight service sucks, but the landings really are the worst

..when you fly "falling off your bike" airlines.

In a grouchy mood due to unrelated things, I set off Saturday afternoon for a ride on my mountain bike. I didn't know exactly where I was going, just that I needed to get out for a rip despite the wet roads and threatening skies. I pedaled out of my neighbourhood, went screaming down Shantz Hill, and flew through Riverside Park to the boardwalk where the trail splits to go into the marsh, across the river, or down a set of stairs to the trail that stays in the park.

Only the stairs had been replaced by a ramp. Excellent! I veered left to give the new ramp a try, and suddenly I was on my side on the wood.


Damn puddle was my undoing!

So yeah, wet wood is slippery. My rear wheel was just suddenly gone from under me, and I was sent sprawling. While the bike was fine, there was some damage to me.

Bruised and scraped

Pretty deep gouge through my knee warmer

I picked myself up, messaged Tanker to tell him I'd taken a spill, and he offered me a ride home. Having got less than 5mins into my ride, I wasn't quite ready to give up yet. I paced around a bit and got myself calmed down, then pedaled off down the ramp toward what Tank and I refer at as "the bunny fields". Finding nothing but a quagmire of mud after a couple of hundred metres, I turned around and VERY CAUTIOUSLY rode back over the boardwalk and across the bridge to the rest of the Mill Run Trail. My knee and elbow were feeling ok (though my knee continued to bleed a bit), and I was starting to feel a little more comfortable on my bike. Passing through a section of woods where it's fairly open beside the trail, I actually turned around and left the path to do a little bumping around in the forest. I was somewhat petrified, but had a bit of fun and came to no harm. I turned around again and rode a little more off-piste, then continued across Beaverdale Road to the Hespeler end of the trail as light rain set in.

This was in rather bad condition in places, so I had to dismount and walk the bike over a couple of footbridges that had been badly dislodged by the rough winter and flooding we'd had recently.

Eeeh, no thanks - I'll walk.
Making it safely to the other end of the trail, I decided to ride on a bit to go visit the friendly folks at The Hub Bicycle Shop on Queen Street to get out of the rain and maybe clean myself up a bit. I was met with the usual comradely jabs about "just rubbing some mud in it" and of course some sympathy over the Teflon-like properties of wet wood. I dabbed at the knee a bit with some napkins while I chatted, but things had pretty well congealed by then and my longsleeve Vanderkitten jersey was doing a good job of protecting my elbow. I messaged Tanker to tell him I was at The Hub and he offered again to pick me up, but I figured I'd just ride back. Why not?

I actually had a really pleasant rip back home, exactly the way I'd come, though the trail was getting muddier by the minute as the rain seemed to have settled in. By the time I got home my bike and I were completely coated!

Can you tell I don't have a fender?

Muddy kitten!
I gave the bike a good wash and rinse before bringing it in, then went out for a short run. Eventually, I did head up to the bathroom to patch myself up.

But the bike is clean, because priorities.
All dressed up.
With fresh gouges out of me, I figured the pool wasn't a great idea, so I called it a day for training. The next day we got a ridiculous amount of stuff done around the house (installed 2 new smoke detectors and a new carbon monoxide detector; planted dahlias, onions & a blueberry bush; removed the old & installed a new range hood; replaced a faulty electrical outlet in the kitchen; comparison shopped for and bought a new chainsaw), then I pulled my cyclocross bike off the trainer for the first time this year and headed out with Tanker for a sunset ride.

We had a lovely time, and I managed another short run afterwards. My knee was a little creaky and whinged  a bit during the run, but felt more or less ok - cycling had been just fine. I decided to challenge myself to ride a bike every day this week (except Friday, which is date night) since I probably wouldn't be going to the pool until at least the weekend.

Monday evening I was feeling a bit banged up from Saturday's wipeout and wondered if I should just take the evening off - there were some dark, surly-looking clouds in the area, too. Then I remembered my challenge, and when the radar check showed no precipitation in the area, I kitted up, turned on my big visible-from-space rear blinky light, and rolled off to ride either my 15k or 20k route just to get a sense of where my legs were at.

My fashion sense was clearly impeccable.

My gateway to both loops is King Street, and I have to pass the 401 interchange there in the first few minutes of my ride in that direction. I was pedaling Northwest on King, watching the traffic coming off the freeway - I paused at the delta of the first off-ramp to let a car go ahead, then moved to the curb as always. As I approached the second off-ramp I noticed a car coming; a second shoulder check as I approached the end of the median showed I had plenty of time to move over, so I signaled with my right hand and whipped up the pedals to accelerate as I crossed to the curb.

Endomondo data.

A horn blared behind me, and suddenly the world was a very confusing and painful place.

I picked myself up off my left (non-drive) side from the gravelly paved shoulder beside the end of the off-ramp, and saw the white car that had been coming down the ramp parked on the shoulder behind my bike.

My poor, poor bike.
The tire originally stayed on the rim, but the tube blew out shortly afterward.

The mark from my rear tire on the driver's bumper.

I called Tanker to let him know I'd need a ride, and a lady came over who said she'd witnessed the whole thing. She urged me to call 911, which I did as soon as I'd got off the phone with my husband. I told the dispatcher that I didn't need an ambulance, but to please send a police officer to sort things out.

I was very sore down my right side - I'd felt a nasty impact on my right hip/lower back & shoulder, and whacked my head really hard. My helmet, though cracked in 4 places, had probably saved my life. It took me ages to figure out that, since I hit hard on my right but have no road rash there, and had to pick myself up off the ground on my left side (which did have some fresh road rash, along with my back), I must have initially bounced off the hood of the driver's car and then fallen on the shoulder once he stopped. Tanker tells me there are dents in the hood of the car. I didn't notice them, but the light was starting to fade.

And the moon came out.

A retired army medic stopped as a good samaritan and did an initial assessment, then a paramedic that happened to be coming past stopped and did a little more thorough checkup on me. He asked if I'd called 911, and I mentioned I had, but wasn't sure why the police hadn't come yet - it had been close to an hour, and we were less than a 3min drive from police headquarters. He radioed in and an officer arrived within a few minutes. The paramedic urged me to take an ambulance ride, but I said that Tanker would drive me down to the hospital - I was made to swear that I'd go, but I wasn't going to resist after a big knock on the head and not knowing when my last tetanus shot had been. He had me sign a form stating he'd treated me at the scene and I'd declined ambulance support, then went along his way.

The officer took a statement from the witness, then bundled the driver and I into the back seat of his cruiser. The driver made his statement first: said he'd seen me approaching as he was doing "40 to 45kph" down the ramp (I call bullshit - everyone takes that ramp at 65+kph, and that's what it looked like during my 2 shoulder checks), and seen the lady who stopped as a witness approaching in her car. He claims he tried to slow down to let me past "because the bicycle has the right of way", then tried to "fit his car in between the bike and the other car" and braked as hard as he could when I came over.

Not to scale.

Now, I know for sure that if he'd slowed or even maintained speed I would have made it safely across to the curb. What sounds way more likely to me is that he stepped on the gas trying to merge in front of the brownish car driven by the kindly lady who witnessed it all. I have no idea what her statement said: I was still being checked over by the paramedic.

That's not going to buff out.

The driver was released from the back of the cruiser, and I was cautioned that I may be charged with "changing lanes - out of safety". I advised I understood, and gave my statement, after which I was handed a ticket for $110 for the aforementioned charge. I pleaded that I'd ensured through shoulder checks that I had space to move (not able to account for the driver suddenly speeding up), had yielded to a car at the previous off-ramp just seconds before the crash, had signaled my intention, and was simply trying to comply with the Highway Traffic Act section that states all slower-moving traffic must move as far to the right as possible. The officer claimed that since the driver and I both agreed the crash took place in the off-ramp lane, I was deemed to have made an improper lane change; had I continued down the yellow dotted line in the right lane of King Street and the driver had hit me, he would be at fault.

Just ducky. A torn jersey and bib shorts (the former repairable, the latter probably not), a helmet fit only for the rubbish, and a demolished rear wheel to a ticket with $110 fine.

Super impressed.
The best part of all? Tanker tells me that the driver and his girlfriend (who arrived at the scene before the police did) were standing around laughing as I was being ticketed. Real nice guy, that. At least he stopped.

Now almost 10pm, Tank took me home so I could change out of my torn cycling kit (in which I was freezing to death) and grab my health card. We also took a couple of minutes to soak the plain cotton gauze pad the paramedic had put on the road rash on my butt so I could remove it without screaming, and replaced it with some non-stick gauze pads to protect it. My back, neck, shoulder and head were the worst, though: every move I made seemed to cause something to hurt.

It seems I skidded a bit on the back of my head.

Definitely only fit for the trash.

Major impact area by right temple.
So glad it did its job.

Down to Cambridge Memorial Hospital with a banana in my pocket (since I'd had nothing but half an apple and a medjool date since my salad at 4pm), I decided against eating in case there was some reason for me not to do so - I'd been warned against eating or drinking when I broke my wrist. I did continue to hydrate, though. I was asked to provide urine samples, so good thing! We waited and waited, as the clock ticked past 2am and I alternately sat, stood and paced a bit, trying to find a way to be comfortable. I was called in to the triage nurse area to check vitals, and they took some pity on me - I was given a shot of Toradol which made my arm ache horribly and made my headache worse, but eventually loosened things in my back and neck up a little. Around 3am, hearing that one of the other waiting patients had been there since 5pm, I finally sent Tanker home: he was falling asleep in his chair and acceded that both of us being injured in a car accident on the way home due to him driving sleep deprived was not a good option. I promised to call as soon as I knew anything, and finally ate the damn banana to try to keep me awake.

Vitals were checked again around 4am, and the triage nurse apologized and asked if he could get anything for me - I requested a blanket, as I was getting cold despite my hoodie and jacket. By 4:30 I was falling asleep in my chair, trying to prop myself up with my chin in my hand but wincing every time I'd nod off and start to fall forward. My neck wouldn't let me just lean back, and my back wouldn't let me try to curl up. I played the nod-off game over and over until I was finally awoken by my name being called just after 6am - they had a room for me at last.

I drew this Monday morning.
I don't think I'll draw anything like this again.

Into the room and into a hospital down over my thin pyjama pants, I wrapped myself in the blanket and dozed off on the bed until the doctor woke me up a little after 7am. He checked me over, advised I was probably unbroken because of the way I was moving, but said he'd do a series of xrays anyway as courts and insurers tend to take things more seriously if imaging is done. He assessed the road rash (both new and old), took a look at the mysterious puncture wound in the back of my left knee (maybe from a broken spoke?), and advised I'd be getting a tetanus shot "on the house". Just to add further insult to injury, I had to explain to every medical professional who saw me (from the retired army medic & paramedic on scene through the triage nurses, doctor & ER nurses) that some of the road rash was from Saturday's wipeout. Nothing like enduring a whole barrage of patronizing looks and "maybe you should find a new hobby" when you're sore as hell, especially since I haven't actually hurt myself on a bike in almost 2 years.

Back to snoozyland for a little bit, then a nurse appeared around 8am to shine a flashlight in my eyes (no sign of concussion; I didn't lose consciousness at the scene) and shoot my non-Toradol'd arm full of tetanus proofing. She led me off to diagnostic imaging afterward, where I had to try to remove as many of my piercings as possible to get clear shots of my neck from various angles. I also had an xray done of my pelvis, though it was taken through the front, not from the rear (where I actually landed).

Back to the ER area, I was seated in a hallway and a nurse was asked to dress my wounds. While she did so, Tanker appeared at the doorway, having been woken up by his regular alarm. We chatted while the nurse bandaged me up (with plain cotton gauze again, despite the doctor and I both requesting hydrocolloid dressings), then another nurse told me I was to go for more xrays when I was done. Fortunately I now had Tanker to carry my plastic bag full of clothes & whatnot as I trudged back over to have more shots taken of my neck, including one taken through my open mouth (hooray for having to take the piercings I'd got back in out again).


Finally released at almost 9am with prescriptions for anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and physiotherapy or massage as needed, we stopped by the drug store and got the pills, then headed home at last. After a meal and popping one of each drug, I carefully climbed into bed around 11am and proceeded to sleep through the entirety of Tuesday.

Wednesday morning I was out of bed again and off to work. I was still a bit groggy, but didn't know if it was from the knock on the melon or from sleeping too much. By Wednesday afternoon I was feeling clearer, and getting around a little easier than I had been that morning. We visited my Mum & gave her the news, then headed off to find some hydrocolloid dressings to replace the mummification job the nurse had done.

It took a lot of soaking of the cotton gauze to get it to release from my road rash on my butt and knee, but eventually we got it all sorted out and I was almost immediately more comfortable. We tried to go out for a walk, but it began to piss rain as soon as we got out the door. Ok universe, I get it - I'll take a day off.

Thursday I was back to work again, doing my bank run without issues and even able to carry a heavy basket full of groceries at the store by my office. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and I saw people everywhere walking, running and riding bikes. I was feeling better, though still too sore to even contemplate a run. Tanker and I had agreed to go for a walk once we got home.

When we arrived, I was bemoaning the fact Tanker's mountain bike was at the shop for its free tune-up - I thought it might just be possible to go for a little pedal around the neighbourhood, but I wouldn't be able to keep up if he was on his cyclocross bike. He pointed out that I actually have 2 mountain bikes (including my old rigid commuter rig) and he could ride one of them.


So we took a little spin.

Good thing I have another helmet.


The moral of this story?

Bikes are way more fun when you stay on them.

And when you can share the ride with someone you love.

Be safe out there, folks!

1 comment:

  1. I still can't get over how insane it is you got a ticket.


Go on, have at me!