Some will say that falling is part of being a mountain biker. Though I may agree, it doesn’t make it any easier when it happens. Especially for us over 40.
My week started off throwing my neck out stretching at my desk at work. Yes, stretching at work. So after a couple chiropractor visits I felt decent enough to get on the bike the first day of the long Memorial Day weekend. Like most of the USA, I had monday off as a holiday, and took an extra vacation day for tuesday. My plan was to get in lots of riding with friends and possibly a long solo ride on my day off while the kids were in school.
10am saturday morning my friend Jake picks me up to ride a nearby trail called Hickory Glen. I don’t get out that way too much so it was a good change. The trail is pretty flat, but very twisty with jumps and other fun stuff scattered through it. He just rode it a couple days ago and was raving about a particular jump not too far into the trail.
It felt great to finally be back on the trails. Sure it had been only a little over a week, but the weather had been good and I was itching to ride. I don’t like sitting around anymore! One can only watch so much of the UCI racing on the Red Bull channel!
About 15 minutes in, we get to the jump Jake’s been talking about. He was leading so I followed him over it. It’s a small jump. Nothing huge to talk about, but I’ve never really been a jumper. A nice easy table top with not much of a knuckle in case you come up short (which I did). We stop and Jake pulls out his phone and says he’ll get some video.
I turn around and head up the trail a bit. Get turned around and ready for the signal. Jake gives the word and I start toward the jump. I knew I cased it a bit last time so I shift up a couple more gears. I load up the suspension and extend off the jump.
I extend. WAY. TOO. HARD. Plus, being over confident, I had already decided I was going to throw some style and turn the bars a bit. Quickly I realized things were not going well. I started to pitch to the right. I knew there was no saving it. I was mad at myself before I even hit the ground.
Swearing was heard. Lots and lots of swearing.
Flash back to 2015. While casually riding a dual slalom course, I had been eyeing up a small double the whole night. I finally built up the courage to hit it. I made the exact same error. Popping really hard off of the lip and getting pitched to the side. When I landed I went into a rocky berm. Tearing up my shoulder, breaking my glasses, and severely bruising my pelvis. So bruised that the effects of the fall showed up on an xray a year and a half later. I was off of the bike for a long time and took even longer to recover. I really haven’t hit a jump since. I’ve completely become scared of them. Drops are no problem, but jumps have been a no-go since that crash.
So here I am, making the same mistake, and I knew it. I hit the ground hard. Head and right shoulder first. I instantly start swearing. Not from the pain, but from being so angry at myself for somehow making the same mistake. I felt so confident going into it. Why didn’t I take it slow and work myself up to clearing it. Now I’m going to be hurt and not able to ride. Is the bike ok? Am I ok?
I lay on my back for a bit taking inventory of my injuries (something I learned from skateboarding). Slowly moving my body parts to see what hurt. Feet and legs were fine. Right hip was a little tender. Hands and arms were good. Neck was a bit sore, but surprisingly, I was able to look right and left a little easier than before! BONUS. All seemed good.
And then I stood up.
That is when I felt a feeling I have never experienced. A popping, crunching, moving feeling. And then the pain. I instantly pulled my right arm to my stomach and felt up with my left hand to the new pointy feature I had sticking up in the middle of where my collar bone was supposed to be. It wasn’t through the skin, but I knew it was bad.
More swearing was heard. Lots and lots of swearing.
Oddly enough it didn’t really hurt as long as I held my arm against my stomach. I have a history of not feeling pain at large injuries. I’ve come to the conclusion later in life after having some major injuries, that I have probably have had many bad injuries growing up that I just dealt with without getting medical attention. Growing up skateboarding, we always just walk it off and try again. There was no walking this one off.
There was, however, the chore of walking out. Pushing the bike with one hand, holding the other against my body. And swearing. Lots of swearing. For about a mile. I tried to see if I could ride, but getting on the bike would have been tricky. Plus I wouldn’t have been able to shift or use the rear brake.
Once we made it to the parking lot, Jake rode ahead and got the car to pick me up. While he was gone, I figured this was the time to call my wife, Angie, and give her the bad news. She answered and I said “You love your husband right?”
After lots of “Are you kidding me?” and making sure I was ok, we were headed to the ER. She would meet us there.
More swearing was heard. Lots and lots of swearing.
The ER was a fun as an ER visit usually is for a sweaty, dirty, broken mountain biker. They gave me Norco for pain. Of course Norco always makes me feel like I’m going to pass out when I stand up. So that, plus being hungry, and coming down from all of the endorphins made me feel horrible.
4 hours later I was wrapped up and we were on the road with instructions to see a specialist on the first business day … which being Memorial Weekend, was tuesday. This was only saturday. Long weekend ruined.
After a visit with the Orthopedic Surgeon, we agreed that surgery would be the best course of action. Sure I have the complications of surgery (scar, numbness etc). But the recovery will be a bit faster and should get me back on the bike faster. Less than a week after my injury and I’m getting some plates, screws and whatever else needs to do installed to stabilize the bone. I’m hoping for some sort of a cybernetic implant, but not getting my hopes up.
So here’s to a fast recovery. Hit a jump for me!