Recovering from Bike Crash – My Experience

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bike crash
On April 5th, 2022, I crashed on my bike while riding with my club. Of course, my experience is unique to me. Bike crashes, however, are rather common. For most cyclists, it is not a matter of if they will experience a bike crash, but when.
 
In this post, I will recount my accident and my journey to recovery.

The Bike Crash

I had only been riding for about three miles when I wished I had never agreed to go on the ride with thirteen other members of my cycling club. It was getting late in the day, but it was still light out when we set out.

I was tired from standing most of the day while substitute teaching. But I pushed on until we came to the overpass of another major highway. I was really feeling the burn in my legs by the time we made it to the top. It was a relief to get down the other side and up to 25mph. But then I swerved to miss a large patch of loose gravel, hit the rumble strips, and lost control of my bike.

 
I only thing I remember about my bike crash was losing control and seeing the sky. The next thing I remember is being inside an ambulance with paramedics asking me questions.
 
My club members later told me that after losing control, I ended up in the middle of the road on the double yellow line of the major highway.
 
The paramedics saw my Road ID and accessed my medical history discovering that I was on blood thinners. They quickly decided that I needed to be taken to the hospital for further evaluation.
 

In The Hospital

They rushed me to the Emergency Room of our local hospital.
 
I was extremely fortunate that I did not break any bones, but I had several severe lacerations as well as bruising on my head and left side. After a quick MRI, the doctors in the emergency room found that I had internal bleeding. However, they did not want to do surgery because of the risk that it could cause more bleeding due to the fact that I was on blood thinners.
 
The doctors did what they could to sew up the wounds on my hand and elbow. After a few hours had passed, they decided it would be best to move me to the intensive care unit. In the ICU, I received treatment that included four pints of blood and two pints of plasma. I was closely monitored for the next few days.
bike crash
 
I was moved to a different room the next day. I couldn’t get out of bed by myself because of the pain. It was agony to even stand, but the physical therapists were there to help me. They would walk with me until I could do it on my own.
 
After seven days, I was finally discharged and went home.

Rehabilitation 

I began my rehabilitation sessions at the rehabilitation center three days after I was released from the hospital.
 
I started each session with ten minutes on a stationary bike. I felt good to be peddling again all be it very slowly.
 
Laying down for going on two weeks caused most of my leg muscles to become very tight and weak. At first, the stretching exercises were surprisingly painful.
 
After four weeks and a dozen sessions I was feeling much better and could tolerate more stretching longer periods on the stationary bike.

On My Trainer

It was five weeks after the accident when I started Zwifting on my trainer. I started with just twenty minutes but, by the end of the two weeks, I was up to an hour.
 
It felt great to get my heart rate up and feel like I was actually working out. I was pushing myself harder than I had in weeks and it felt amazing. I was finally starting to see results after all the hours I had spent on the trainer. But, for me, being on a bike that does not move down a real road was boring. I longed to be back on the road.

On The Road again

 
I had been hesitant to get back on the road after my bike crash, but only two months had passed before I felt ready. I went on a 15-mile ride with some of my club members. Even though I was only able to go 10-12 miles an hour, they stayed with me.
 
It felt good to be peddling my bike down an actual road. I was very nervous at first unsure of my ability to remain upright. Every time I saw a crack or an uneven part of the road, my heart would beat faster and I would start to feel lightheaded. I was constantly scanning the road ahead of me for any obstacles that could make me lose control.
 
A couple of my fellow club members really encourage me and helped me go longer and faster during the following months.
 
We rode a 20-mile route two to three times a week. Later, we moved out to 30-35 miles on the weekends.
 

Lessons from My Bike Crash

 
It’s been six months since the accident, and I am slowly getting back to my old self. I am averaging nearly 15 mph on my rides and I am feeling better every day.
 
This bike crash has taught me to not go out on a ride when I am not feeling well or strong. Leave the ride until another day.
 
There are risks to cycling on roads, as I can attest from my own bike crash. However, I learned from the experience and now pass on my knowledge to you, the reader. A severe bike crash doesn’t have to be the end of your cycling career. I’m grateful to the people who helped me get back on the road and back to doing what I love.
 
I am one tough individual. Over twenty years ago, I had to have triple bypass surgery. Since then, I’ve had to get seven stents placed. And now after the bike crash, I’m still here on this dirt ball we call Earth. I can say without sounding conceited that I am a 74-year-old athlete.

 

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