Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Fall -- Aftermath

I can't end this story without mentioning our Bike Trail Good Samaritan, Frank.  Jan and I stopped Frank to ask him the name of the access road we were on so Jan could find it in the car.  Frank did far better than supply the name. He stopped his ride, checked me over for signs of a concussion, etc., and insisted on staying with me while Jan fetched the car.  At the time, I thought this was unnecessary, but it's clear to me now that I wouldn't have done that well left on my own with the post-accident adrenaline coursing through my system.  There's every chance I'd have freaked out -- or passed out -- without Frank chatting away about bikes, jobs and coyotes.  Thank you, Frank. 

Now for the damages.  We went straight to my doctor's office and from there to the x-ray lab.  There, the looks on the faces of the techs told me our medical visits weren't over for the day.  Both our techs were too professional to diagnose for me, but when they stare at the monitor somberly, point at it and then look at each other, you know there's something there.  If I needed another clue, it came when one of the techs suggested we take the x-rays with us "in case" my doctor wanted me to see a specialist "right away."

After a little prodding, that's exactly what happened.  I was squeezed onto the schedule of an orthopedic specialist who told me I'd joined the legions of cyclists who have broken a clavicle.  Treatment consists of wearing a splint and waiting about 8 weeks for the bone to knit itself back together.  No surgery, no complicated harnesses and no special postures or regimens.  Just get used to left-handed life and be patient.

Six days later, I've regained a great deal of mobility in my right shoulder.  There are plenty of things I can't do -- mostly involving moving my elbow too far from my ribs -- but an increasing number of things I can.  And, I'm getting very good at brushing my teeth, shaving and eating as a lefty.

But enough about me.  How, you ask, did the bike come through all this?

Not good, it turns out.  In the immediate aftermath, I was convinced my front wheel had merely turned 180 degrees (or 360) and become jammed under the frame.  Now, it's clear that I bent the forks to a ridiculous degree. 

Here's a "before" photo:

And here's an after:

Hmmm...  something's different here, but what?

Jan's taking "Obi" to my LBS friends tomorrow.  I'm afraid they may look at it solemnly, point at the forks and then look at each other... like the x-ray techs did.


  1. So how fast were you going when you hit this three-foot high, "few inches in diameter" pole? And did your front wheel hit it head on? As long as the frame isn't fixed, Obi should be fixable without costing a king's ransom.

  2. It's weird,Don. To bend the forks like that, I think I had to hit it head on. Yet, I would have expected the wheel to be damaged, but it doesn't appear to be. As for speed, I'm going to guess 12-ish? I had been riding pretty slowly and had only realized my need to catch up to Jan a moment before. But when I look at those forks, I wonder about that and think I might have been going faster. Given that f=ma and that I'm bringing a good bit of m to that equation, low speed is possible too.

  3. Wow, an "epic" post, Mike--this could be the point where your blog takes off. Certainly it has in an artistic sense. I hope that additional injury won't be required for you to generate more of this kind of high-octane prose. I'll have you know I forwarded a link to BSNYC and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a mention on his estimable blog.

    In all seriousness, I hope the mend is quick, and I'm hoping you're back on the trail again soon.

    It may be time to invest in a dedicated commuter, though. I'm sure you can parlay this clavicle thing into a new Rivendell or something. Christmas is, after all, nigh.

  4. A thousand thanks, Matt! It was fun to tell the story... it took my mind off being sidelined for a while. And, you were one step ahead of me; after discovering the bent forks, I consoled myself with browsing through a few commuter/city bike sites. The tentative short list included a Breezer Uptown 8 and the Raleigh Detour. Rivendells are beautiful, but that's a lot of money. Don't forget, the average price of my most recent acquisitions is around $60!

    Of course, it would seem that a replacement fork and maybe a wheel and "Obi" will be back in action. We'll see.

  5. Great story...I hadn't heard about the cayote encounter. I had one earlier this summer...where one lunged at my heel but then backed off. He/she must have had a den in the area.

    Anyway, hope you're feeling better every day! I know it's hard to be off the bike for at least 8 weeks but it sounds like you must. And let's not forget to be thankful that you are smart enough to wear a helmet! Did it crack? I had one crack once and remember that sensation of it bouncing off of the pavement - scary!

    Mend quickly...


  6. Glo! there's a story today about a 19-year-old girl being KILLED by a pair of coyotes! Until that, your heel-lunge story was the no. 1 scary coyote story in my book. Still, how creepy was that?

  7. I meant if the frame wasn't "bent". In reading the following post, I see that it was. This is unfortunate.

  8. True say, Don. At first glance, my LBS boys said they only had to order a replacement fork and all was good. Closer examination showed the frame was jacked as well. On the positive side, they were mightily impressed with my force-generating abilities.