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Saturday, July 20, 2013

In Praise of Bike Helmets

I woke up in an ambulance, EMTs fussing over me, asking me questions. What's your name? What's your phone number? I got them right; they could check from the information on my Road ID band. I could wiggle my fingers and feet, but I couldn't move my head; I realized I was strapped tightly to a backboard, a wide band around my forehead, pressing down on my Headsweats bandanna.

One of the EMTs said I'd crashed on my bike. Something about a dog hitting me. Couldn't remember a thing, but I thought of the race in which Marco Pantani broke his leg after hitting a black cat on a descent. Good long-term memory, no memory of the crash; I had a concussion. My left shoulder hurt, and I had a deep ache in my sternum. I could see blood on my stiffening right thumb. He said my bike was OK; they were taking it to their fire station where it would be safe until we picked it up. They were taking me to Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d'Alene.

I remembered thinking it was a beautiful morning: temperature in the upper 60s, sunny, calm. I remember passing two fit young women on road bikes, feeling good, finally having adjusted to my new Specialized Toupe saddle. I'd been riding along the Centennial Trail from Stateline toward Spokane, and I think I remember riding along the lower section down by the Spokane River, but I don't remember how far I'd gotten. An EMT told me I'd crashed down by Mirabeau Park, and that someone there who saw the crash called 911 - and mentioned the dog. I wonder what kind of dog it was, and why it hadn't been on a leash.

The trip to the hospital didn't seem to take as long as it should have. Maybe I slept, but the EMTs probably kept me awake. Maybe I just don't remember.

Karen, my wife, met me at the emergency room. She said I'd called her on my cell phone. I don't remember calling her. I had a CT of my head and neck. No damage to them, but I'd broken my left 1st rib, just below the neck. Lucky. A second CT of my torso. No internal damage. Lots of soreness; Hydrocodone every four hours.

Time passed as the doctors and nurses worked efficiently, but carefully. The trauma had pushed up my blood sugar (insulin pump survived intact), so no food. Full bladder from drinking Gatorade on the road. Needed a catheter; nurse had to cut the straps on my bib shorts to remove them. Castellis. Still have a few pair.

Yesterday evening, my stepson, Donovan, picked up my bike at the fire station. Haven't seen it yet; he hung it up in the garage. It's a Davidson titanium, so the frame should be OK. When I feel up to it, I'll give it a good examination and see if anything needs to be replaced.

I did have to replace my helmet. There's a dent in the left front of the shell, and a crack all the way through the EPS foam liner of my Giro Ionos.

This is the second time a Giro helmet has saved me from serious injury. When I lived in Laramie, a driver turned left in front of me. I rode into the right side of her car, smashing her windshield with my Giro Ventoux. The sun was behind me, she said, and she didn't see me. The impact blew me out of the pedals, killed my bike, and left windshield glass embedded in my helmet and neck. I still have the scarring in my neck, but the helmet went back to Giro under their now-discontinued crash replacement program.

I honestly don't understand bicyclists and motorcyclists who refuse to wear helmets - too hot, too uncomfortable, restrict vision, like the feeling of the wind in my hair. My advice: get a helmet and wear it. They work. I ordered a new Giro Atmos this morning. Should be here by the time I can get back on the bike. I don't have Tyler Hamilton's pain threshold. Then again, I don't have his history of performance-enhancing drug use.

Slept last night in the living room recliner, no lights, no sound, no computer, no books, no cats to fight for position on the bed. Let your brain rest all day, the ER doctor said. Brain feels OK, but I'll  let readers of this blog decide how OK I really am.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Project #1 - Done!

So, what have I been doing the past month, other than logging miles on my bike? Finishing the front walkway. And, as of today, it's done!

After building up a low spot in the walkway with thicker rocks, yesterday I filled in the spaces among the rocks with dirt piled up from scraping the ground from the concrete deck pad to the gravel driveway and used rocks that were too thick for the walkway to line the path. More filling and brushing today (in 94-degree heat), and a light hosing to pack the dirt.

All of the rocks, in and flanking the walkway, are from our property. Couldn't have done it without an ATV, trailer, and crowbar. Oh, yeah, Tylenol, Diet 7-Up and Glucerna bars.

Next up, gathering large flagstones from a neighbor's to prepare for building a patio for the grill that's still down at my stepson's house. Should be barbecuing again this football season.