A knockout ride

Posted by SuperClydesdale on September 18, 2014 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

I had a memorable experience recently on one of my favorite trails. Perhaps I should rephrase that… I had what I suspect was a memorable experience – I actually have no recollection of the incident at all. It was on my absolute favorite trail in the greater Sacramento area – in the Sierra Nevada foothills. I won’t say where, because it already attracts too many riders. Sorry – I hate it when people do that, but I get about 10,000 views a month and I don’t want even a small percentage of that number adding to the traffic.

The first thing I remember was departing from the parking area – I was about 100 yards away from the start when I realized that I had forgotten to put on my gloves. I figured, “what the hell? This is a pretty non-technical ride – I’ll just keep going.”

My next memory is of me standing over my bike, wondering “where am I? What am I doing here?” I quickly realized that I was on a mountain bike ride, but it took me several minutes just to recall what trail I was on, or which direction I was going. I had my sunglasses on, my helmet on (thank God), and was looking at my bloody knuckles. At that point, I realized that I must have crashed. I started trying to piece together the ride – where was I coming from? Where am I going? Did I drive here? I remembered that I had forgotten my gloves – a point reminded to me by the condition of my hands, but that was about it. I didn’t know what day it was, or why I was even riding (as if I needed to have a reason to ride my bike) – it seemed like I needed a reason. I felt the tightness on the skin around my eyes that you feel when blood dries. I could feel a little knot on the outside of my left eye socket and could see blood on my fingers when I touched it. I had scratched up forearms, and could feel tenderness on my left shoulder. Figured that I must have gone over the bars and landed on my head and left shoulder. I was still very dazed, as I started to ride back towards the car, but had no plan as to what I was going to do next. When I got to the car, which was about a mile and a half from the crash area (I think), I put on my gloves, and started off again.

I don’t believe that I was thinking very clearly, as what I should have done (obviously) was to go home or get to an area with cell coverage so that I could have someone come get me. Probably the last thing I should have done was to re-start the ride. My decision making skills were a bit off, I guess you could say, because on the most technical part of the ride, where you have to ascend over some pretty substantial roots – I went for it. This is a about a 20-foot stretch that is virtually unrideable for someone of my skill level — up or down. It’s very narrow and twisty and is cross-crossed by pretty substantial roots from a large oak tree. Bad idea. I was again thrown over the bars, this time landing on my thigh and ribs — each on a separate root. Ouch.

I was pretty damaged by that, but I took some time to recover, and then kept on. I don’t know if I was just determined to finish the ride or just didn’t quite know what was going on. At that point, I was definitely damaged goods. My thigh was really hurting, as my femur had taken a direct hit from a very prominent root. I limped (literally) through the rest of the ride.

When I got back to the car, I could assess the damage. I look like I was in a bar fight – my left eye was pretty black & blue. When I looked at my face, I had blood around both eyes. As it turns out, my right eye area was fine. I think that I must have been lying there for a while, as the only way the blood would have gotten to the right side of my head was by running down across my eyes as was I lying there, out cold. My left shoulder was a massive patch of road rash. I had a dent in my helmet about 45 degrees out from my left eye.

I realize now that I was concussed from the crash, and should have pretty much ended the ride immediately rather than risk further injury. At a minimum I should have had someone check me out soon after the crash. All-in-all, I was in ok shape. I drove home and waited until my wife got home before cleaning up – for maximum effect. I got the expected “what the hell happened to you?!” I was looking for.

Its been months since that crash. I still have no recollection to the first part of the ride, or the crash. I think I lost about 10 minutes. I can’t even remember where I was on the trail when it happened. My only reminder is a small lump on the outside of my eye socket and the road rash scar on my left shoulder. Somehow, my sunglasses were fine. I didn’t rip my jersey. I’ve replaced the helmet.

Since the entire first part of the ride is a very simple stretch, I have no idea what led to the crash. I was riding alone – which I often do. Luckily, that trail gets a decent amount of traffic – so someone would have come upon me had I been incapacitated. It’s an area thick with mountain lions and coyotes, so perhaps I would have been awakened by a hungry scavenger. It does make me re-think some of my solo rides on trails that are less popular, or rides on trails during the week when there are few riders. Live and learn. Luckily.

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