Thank God for Tegaderm

Posted by SuperClydesdale on December 1, 2010 under Commentary, Mountain Bikes | Be the First to Comment

I learned a few things this weekend, in order:

  • A helmet cam will get you to try things that you might otherwise not, which led to the understanding that…
  • You need to scope out the landing zone the first time you try a new trail feature, which was caused by a lack of understanding that…
  • Momentum is important, which reminded me that…
  • Falling on rocks hurts, and that…
  • Some people are stupid, and reinforced that…
  • You’ll never get better if you don’t keep trying things a little out of your comfort zone, but luckily…
  • Tegaderm is the savior of mankind, and that…
  • My mountain bike looks like I bought it at a garage sale, but unfortunately…
  • Make sure you have a memory card in the helmet cam before you leave or you’ve injured yourself for nothing.

Mountain biking is introducing me to a lot of things.  Mud on my sunglasses, back, chest, shoes.   Logs.  Rocks.  Horses.  Lots of horses.   People shouting at me from horses.    Misguided “environmentalists” yelling at me about how I am ruining Earth.

Those are cool.   I love all those things.  Even the people yelling at me – I love a debate.

The downside, which I don’t love quite as much, is the cuts and abrasions that I am collecting as I push my boundaries, try new things, and end up spectacularly splayed on the rocks and dirt.  This weekend was a good one.  Now that I am doing things on the mountain bike that are at least approaching interesting, I had my new Hero HD helmet cam on.

There’s an interesting cause-and-effect of having a camera around.  Just ask the lucky ladies in the Girls Gone Wild videos.  I should do some body shots before I ride — I’d get back and have a “Clydesdales Gone Wild meets Jackass” video on my hands.  Probably some money in that.  Maybe in France?

I’ve been riding the same 17-mile loop a few times a week now for several weeks.  I know, 17 miles, really?  Hey, it’s on a mountain bike.   Screw you.

Anyway, I’ve become comfortable enough with the bike, the trail, and my skill level to start trying new things.  While some of these things, like riding over log piles, riding down logs, or jumping off of three-foot rocks, might be pretty tame to seasoned riders, to me each is a major accomplishment.   Over the last few weeks, I’ve spotted different features of the trail and decided that I would work up to attempting each one.

One note of advice for the newbie mountain biker:  make sure you check out the entire feature fully before trying to ride over it.

I imagine that soon I’ll be able to better react to surprises – like on my snowboard, where I can make it through just about anything the first time.  On the bike, I’m still a bit tentative, and that can spell disaster on a mountain bike.  Momentum has proven to be key – keep moving.  A moment of hesitation or a tap of the brakes at the wrong time can result in a momentum-stealing delay that leaves you without a lot of options.  Other than falling — there’s always that option.  That was the option I took this weekend.

Not that falling is a big deal, but when you do it on rocks without any padding, you’re going to remember it for a while.   And, not just falling.  I’ve done that, no problem.  But when the fall is preceded by your front tire hitting the ground hard with the bike at a greater than say… 75-degree angle, you’re really not falling so much as crashing.  Crashing is a much more active word.   To be launched over the handlebars onto a granite shelf, still clipped into the pedals…  ah, good times.

That was at about mile 7 of my 17-mile loop.    So, left knee, shin, elbow and shoulder all scraped up.  Knee actually bleeding pretty good, with blood running down the shin.  Luckily, it was all really superficial, so I got back on and resumed the ride.   Nothing broken, limited bruising.  But, with the gash in my knee just at the hem line of my mountain bike shorts, the blood was getting smeared all over my thigh and knee as I pedaled.  It looked spectacular — like I just emerged from battle.

I finished the loop, and hit pretty much every feature on the trail – all under the watchful eye of the helmet cam.  I went over every large rock, over the pile of logs, down logs, jumped off rocks at speed.  It’s somewhat of a graduation for me.  I’ve mastered this trail, ready for bigger, badder, more technical things.  So, I’m riding back, feeling great about myself, but looking like I was dragged out of a car wreck.

The ride back to the car is a series of fire roads.  Lots of other cyclists and people walking their dogs.  Groups of women out for walks.  The looks I was getting from people was hilarious.  They’d see this big guy coming, left leg just dripping in blood.  A look of surprise and revulsion.  Come to think of it, that’s a pretty normal reaction I get – maybe the rest is just in my head.

A couple miles from the car, I’m descending a little hill on a single-track trail, and see a woman on foot, placing a small log in the middle of the trail.  I don’t think much of it, until she moves to the middle of the trail to try to block me from passing.    She has a huge smile on her face, and she is gesturing for me to stop.  I figure, what the hell?  I can take this lady.  If it gets out of hand, I just push her down the hill, shout “… and don’t mess with Floyd Landis again!” and ride off.

She has a somewhat deranged look on her face — this weird Hare Krishna smile.  I figure this woman might be in distress.  Everyone else seemed pretty scared of the bleeding big man, and she’s flagging me down!

“Don’t you see what you’re doing?”  she says.

“I’m mountain biking,” I say.

“Don’t you see the damage you’re doing?” she says.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”  I say.

“You’re causing erosion.  You’re ruining the area,” she says.

I’m thinking, if you hadn’t stepped in my way on a downhill trail, I wouldn’t have had to skid to a stop, dumbass.  But, I remain gentlemanly.  “The horses are the ones that are ripping up the trails.  Mountain bikes are mostly packing it down.”

“That’s what they all say.”

“Well, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say in as nice a way as you can say that.   I was a real gentleman this whole time.  Very contrary to my instincts, I assure you.

With that, I turn and ride over the log she just placed on the trail.  I’m sure that she thought that the small log was going to somehow keep a mountain bike from using the trail.  I should have told her that I’d prefer bigger logs, and helped her make a log feature.   But, that really pissed her off.  Once I rode over her log obstacle, she started screaming at me as I rode away.  Not sure what she was saying, but clearly she was pretty unhappy that her effort to impede my ride had no effect.

Oh well,  happy times.

Look at that spectacular leg. Just a massive tree trunk.

Back at the car, I can see that the bike shorts had really smeared the blood nicely.  Just spectacular.  The crappy camera on my Blackberry doesn’t do it justice.

I got home and started looking for ways of keeping a massive scab from forming which would cramp my style somewhat.  Unlike other (knuckle-dragging) mountain bikers, I actually am in a profession that requires me to dress up.  The main concern is the damn thing bleeding all day through my clothes.

In comes Tegaderm.  If you’ve never used this stuff, it’s made by 3M, and it’s the way to go for bad road-rash types of injuries.  It was recommended to me by some road racing friends of mine.  It’s a bit bizarre the first time you use it.  I peeled off the backing, and at first I couldn’t tell what was the part to put on the wound, and what part to throw away.  The Tegaderm patch just looks like a piece of cellophane, bordered with thin cardboard.  You place the thing over the wound, and press lightly from the center of the wound towards the outside.  Once you’re done, you pull away the cardboard border, and you’re left with something that looks like shrink wrap stuck very tightly to your body.

The steps are simple.  Clean up the wound really well with saline or soap and water.   Shave the hair all around the wound so that the Tegaderm patch can really adhere and seal the wound well.   Put on the Tegaderm patch, then leave it on until new skin covers the wound, or up to 7 days.  That’s it.   It never gets the hard scab that will crack and bleed, the healing process is greatly accelerated, and there’s much less scarring after the fact.

After I got all cleaned up, I was anxious to see my adventure on video, as well as to see the picture of the envirokrishna nut job that I encountered on the trail so that I could post it with this article.   The next time I see a story in the local paper, “Mountain Biker stabbed by deranged woman” I would have a great lead for the detectives.

Alas, my dumbassery continued, and I was dismayed to learn that I hadn’t put a memory card in the helmet cam.  Crap.  No video of my fall, no documentation of my kicking the trails’ ass.  No picture of the nut job.

What a total dumbass.

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