The Crash

I always wear my helmet. Yesterday I was especially glad I did. I had a crash that I don't think left me completely unconcious, but certainly caused a loss of memory and alot of confusion -- when I came back to my senses I didn't know what day it was or what I'd been doing before the crash.

My helmet, a Bell Image Pro, served me well in the crash. It extends futher down in the back of the head that most new helmets do, and it doesn't have one of those aerodynamic tails (like the Bell Razor). I landed on the back left area of the bottom extension, and was thankful that it was there. If I'd had one of aerodynamic tails, instead of there being a piece of foam there to cuision my fall, there would have been a protrusion that could very well have whipped my head around. The helmet broke up, but stayed in one piece. I'll send it back to Bell and get a new one, I think they at most charge you a mimimal fee, like $30, to replace it. Meanwhile, I'll use my old helmet.

Here are the details of the crash and the aftermath, for the curious:

Yesterday, at about 10 or so, I crashed during a training ride. This is what I think happened: we (me, Tiffany, Brian, Lauren, and coach Pete) were doing hill work, and while coming down a hill I hit a bump. This somehow wrenched the handlebars out of my hands, and I thought "I'm gonna crash". And then I had a dream, in which I crawled to the edge of the road and later got into an ambulance. When I woke up, I was being wheeled along a corridor on a hospital bed. "What happened?" I asked. They said that I crashed on my bike. Well, I guess I'd pretty much figured that out, since I was in my biking clothes. They asked me what day it was. I looked and discovered that I didn't have my watch on, so I didn't know. But I figured that it was either a Tuesday or a Thursday, since that's when I do my training rides. They asked if there was anyone with me when I crashed. I didn't know, but I figured that there propably were, since I usually train with the team (Penn cycling team) Tuesdays and Thursdays. Beyond that, I had no idea. At least I knew who I was an where I lived.

I find it strange now that not knowing things like what day it was and what I was doing when I crashed didn't bother me. I guess it didn't occur to me at the time that this is stuff that I should remember. I guess I felt more or less OK -- I hurt all over, but I was thinking clearly (as evidenced by my conclusions regarding the circumstances of my crash, based on the evidence that I found), even if my memory was faulty, and this must have reassured me that I was going to come through all right.

Gradually it came back to me, what I'd been doing, who I'd been doing it with, more or less how the crash happened. Pete showed up, dressed in normal clothes, told me that I had a concussion, and possibly a broken collarbone. He told me something of what happened: that Tiff had heard me say something as I went down, and found me stretched out on the road. He'd come along soon after, checked that I was more or less OK. Evidently I wasn't completely unconscious, since I was responding to commands ("Move your left hand"), but I was clearly disoriented. Some concerned bystanders got an ambulance to take me to the nearby Medical College of Philadelphia.

They took X-rays of me, did a CAT scan to make sure my brain wasn't bleeding. The left side of my body all hurt. My shoulder was quite painful, and my left elbow, hip, and thigh all hurt. They deposited me in a room, and I saw my helmet. I'd landed on the back left part of it, at the bottom of the helmet. My helmet is a Bell Image Pro, and it extends further down in the back of the head than most helmets do. This is the part I landed on. It was flattened and broken in that area, but it hadn't come apart. I hate to think how much damage I'd had if I hadn't had the helmet, since I got a concussion even with it on.

They came back with the results -- CAT scan and X-rays negative. No broken collerbone, vertebrae all fine. I got someone there to call my boyfriend. I stressed that she should tell him that I was fine. In fact I wasn't fine, I felt miserable, nauseated, in pain, but I wanted to convey the fact that I was all in one piece, that I was going to be all right. He asked if he should come, and I said yup, and to bring the car. Pete reappeared and kept me company until my boyfriend showed up. We talked about the various accidents that Pete had been thru'. Very entertaining.

Soon after my boyfriend showed up they discharged me. I walked, very slowly, to the car. I wasn't feeling good at all. Upon getting home, I took off my biking clothes and flopped in bed. My boyfriend got some hydrogen peroxide and cotton balls and cleaned off my scrapes. Since I had been wearing tights and two long-sleeve shirts, the scrapes were not that bad and were pretty clean -- all I had was one scrape about the size of the palm of a hand on my left shoulder and a small one on my elbow, and, I discovered this morning, a tiny one on my ankle. In addition, I had some swollen areas around my shoulders, and my neck muscles ached. I had a terrible headache, and the nausea continued. Surprisingly, tho', I didn't have any bruises, and I still don't.

I slept the entire day and night. Well, not solidly, but I'd sleep for a couple of hours, wake up for 15 mins, then go back to sleep. Each time I woke up I felt a bit better. The nausea slowly subsided, and later the headache did too. This morning I still felt pretty beat up, but felt good enough to go to school and get some work done. I ate a light breakfast, and it seems like it will stay down (I tried to eat something last night, but it didn't stay down).

This weekend is the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference, the last collegiate event for this season. I don't know if I'm going to be feeling up to biking, let alone racing, this weekend, so I may have already raced my last college race.

[And in fact, that turned out to be my last race, at least so far. I didn't really like it enough to start it up again after I healed. About a week and a half after the crash, I found that I indeed did have a broke collarbone, which they had missed at MCP because it was in a weird place (right next to where the clavicle joins the sternum). Because of this, I was off my bike for more than a month in total.]

More ride stories