By David Ward
So, on April 19th, I rode the Salt Lake Marathon Bike Tour with my brother, Nick, and his wife, Nancy. I really enjoy these rides associated with marathons where you ride the marathon course in advance of the runners. It is rare to be able to ride 26 miles non-stop, with the road closed off and all intersections controlled. I had never even heard of such a thing until the Salt Lake Marathon first incorporated a bike tour with the marathon event a few years ago. I look forward to doing it each year.
This year’s ride will always be especially memorable, thanks to the bad fall I took on my bike. We were about 7 miles into the ride and had just come down Memory Grove. We had descended fairly quickly and Nick, who was in front of me, asked if Nancy was with us. I decided to turn around and look, but we had just turned right on to North Temple heading west. Right after that, we were to turn left onto State Street.
I made that left turn and decided to float out to the right out of the way of other cyclists to look back for Nancy. I saw faded yellow lines on the road and thought they were just that. So I started to move to the right and look back and . . . BAM! The lines were actually an island (which I should have remembered). It took my wheels out from the side and I hit hard on my hip, elbow and head. That is the hardest I can remember falling except when I got hit many years ago by a car.
After a few minutes, they helped me up and, as I leaned over my bike, I started to feel nauseous. So, a bike marshal who stopped to assist and Nancy helped me walk over to a lawn during which time I also began to feel dizzy. I laid down, and it only took a couple of minutes before the nausea and dizziness passed. Then, because I was certain I would feel better if I kept moving, we hopped back on the bikes to do the remainder of the ride.
Because we live relatively close to the start of this event, we had ridden our bikes to the start line. So, after completing the event, we rode to Nick and Nancy's after which I continued home. I was feeling good except for a very tender elbow and some dried blood, so I logged another 15 miles beyond that.
After I was done riding, I finally undressed to observe the damage and dress my wounds. The knees on my cycling knickers were ripped, and chunks of skin torn from my knees. The blood had glued my skin to the fabric of my knickers so I had to peel them off. The fall had also taken a deep chunk of skin off my right elbow so I also had to peel off the sleeve of my long-sleeved undershirt from my elbow.
The most visible trauma from my fall is my hip. After stripping off my knickers, my hip did not look nor feel too bad. It had some relatively light road rash in about a 4 inch circular area and felt a little tender, but that was it. I dressed my other wounds, and then mowed our lawn as I had promised my wife I would do. By the time I was done with that, though, my hip had become quite swollen and extremely tender. Through the night, if my wife happened to touch my hip, I would yelp.
Over the next two days, I developed a very nasty blue, purple and yellowish bruise that stretched from my waist down behind and below my knee, and from my groin clear around to my backside. My hip has remained tender, and I have had to wear baggy pants and sweats to keep from putting pressure on my hip. It is now over a week later, and the hip is just starting to recover.
For the final touches to this picture of trauma, I also have scrapes on my left shin and right arm, and a bruise on my left inner thigh.
It sounds really terrible, I know, but in truth I feel very blessed. It could have been much worse. First, nothing broke or fractured, nor was I bleeding very badly. It says something that I was able to finish the ride, log another 20 miles, and then mow my lawn. I may be a little crazy, but I am not all that tough. Admittedly, I have been sore for over a week now, but that is a small price to pay for such a severe fall.
As for my noggin, it did hit hard. I was of course wearing a helmet, and except for a flash of light when I hit, I did not even have so much as a small headache. So here’s a shout out for good helmets.
Even my bike came out of it nearly unscathed. The rear derailleur hanger was bent so I had to replace that. And except for having to straighten the brake on the handlebar, that was it.
But this experience has had me reflecting on how vulnerable we are as cyclists. Except for the helmets and clothing we wear, we are very exposed. And while our bodies are marvelous machines at healing themselves, it is a thin line between coming out of something relatively well, as I did, or severely traumatized, maimed or even dead.
Despite my mishap, this was a great ride. The Salt Lake Marathon had a great new course this year which I really enjoyed. It had enough winding and rolling terrain to keep it interesting, and the police manning the course were very much in control and doing a good job of keeping traffic off the road and out of the intersections.
And while I don’t pay much attention to the running side of the event, I do know the bike tour portion is well-managed and overseen by Cindy Yorgason. The only improvement I would suggest is the start. A couple hundred yards after the start, the road narrowed as it turned uphill. Bikes bottle-necked at the turn with most cyclists having to clip out of their pedals. It became a bit dicey as they tried to clip back in while heading uphill. It would have been better if the start had been narrowed to eliminate the bottle-neck at the corner.
So put this on your calendar next year. I am confident you will enjoy it. And also, be careful out there. Had I been paying closer attention, perhaps I could have avoided this. The point is, as cyclists we need to pay attention, and ride defensively. I can attest that, even when your guardian angel keeps you from serious injury, a crash still hurts. A lot.