It started out like any other Sunday morning. We met at the bike shop (Epic Cycles USA in Clermont, FL) around 7:15am and rolled out at 7:30 to embark on a ride around Clermont, Oakland, Winter Garden and south Orlando (aka Disney area, Lake Buena Vista). Our total mileage for the day would top 70 miles. Not bad for a Sunday morning "stroll", eh?
We had a good group of riders on that day. Like most bike rides, there were significantly more males than females. I can't recall how many women were on this ride, but I do remember we had some good guys along. By good guys, I mean those that aren't adrenaline junkies ruled by testosterone who don't have their egos in check. I've been on rides with guys like that and let me tell you, it's scary. Their first and only priority is to show you what they got. They throw manners, rules of the road, cycling etiquette and safety out the window. They will do whatever it takes (and I mean whatever) to stay in front of you especially if you are a woman. It's scary riding with guys like that. We call them "rowdy roadies." But this group was great. I knew these guys had my back and would wait for me if something went askew. That's great peace of mind especially when you go out on a long ride.
So here we are biking around Orlando and we hit about mile 40. I was in the front 1/3 of the pack going up a slight incline when suddenly I heard a loud "BANG." Before I knew what happened, I flipped up and over my bike, body-slammed into the guardrail and ended up on the curb with my bike between my legs. I was a bit dazed and confused.
Thankfully the riders behind me weren't too close and they had enough time to react in order to avoid a pile up, so I was the only one that went down. The front riders turned around and came immediately to check on me. Note: in some bike groups, that wouldn't happen. They would leave you by the side of the road to fend for yourself. Those are the "rowdy roadies" I'm talking about (aka unsafe cyclists).
Luckily, one of the guys lived nearby and his wife came and brought me a new wheel. Great, I thought, I can finish this ride. Never before had I dropped out of a ride and I didn't plan on doing that today. Although I had some bruising, a little bleeding and a torn jersey, I got back on my bike ready to finish the next 30 miles with the group. You always finish what you start, right?
When we got back to the shop, I decided to go and swim. It was part of my training for that day and I wasn't about to miss a training session, crash or no crash. You have to stick with the plan. (I have a very hard head at times!) So off to the pool I went bruises and all. I figured a nice swim would help me loosen up a bit.
I got in, swam 25yd and knew something was wrong. I could barely swim freestyle and pull with my arms. There was intense pain, but I wasn't sure where it was coming from. All I knew was that my body hurt--it ached and I was tired (heck, I just biked 70 miles! I think I was a bit delirious at this point!) So I cut my swim short (I hate changing the training plan, but I gave in). I knew I still had a run later that day, so I figured I'd go, take a nap and get my run in later that day. (Haha, wishful thinking, I know!)
I went home, passed out, woke up and figured a run wouldn't be the best idea. So I cut that out too. Instead I went to a gala event that night and sat there very uncomfortably, but I put on a smile and tried to make small talk as best I could. My back felt so stiff. I thought I just need a good night's sleep and then everything will be ok.
Well thank goodness for my coach and his wisdom, he said, "Nat, before we do any popping, just go get some x-rays to make sure everything checks out." "Ok," I relented. I got a book expecting a long wait in the ER and drove myself there. I checked in, they took my vitals and less than 3 minutes later, they wheeled out a wheelchair and said, "Hop in." I told them I can walk just fine, but they told me to sit down. So I did.
They wheeled me back in front of everyone else who had been waiting and I was like, "Cool. Front of the line. This is great!" I was talking about the weekend's football games and NCAA rankings with the nurse and before I knew it, I was hooked up to an EKG machine in a room with about 8 other nurses. Some were just staring at me, but I kept on talking, laughing and getting to know them. I was confused why there were so many people in my room until the doctor came in.
That made me feel pretty good and my coach too. At least we found out I'm in good shape! The whole ordeal was pretty funny and it taught me how to get in front of the line at the ER--have them check my vitals and woop-de-doo, I got a room like that!
After all that hype, the doc ordered x-rays and lo and behold he saw a couple fractured ribs. (Now my coach and I were very glad I didn't just go and get "popped" back into place at the chiropractor.) The doc sent me to an orthopaedic who prescribed rest and some high powered pain killers. Of course me, I thought I could do without "pansy" pain killers, so I didn't take them for a couple days. After a few nights of not sleeping and miserable days, the doc urged me to take them. So I did and guess what, they helped A LOT! Amazing how that works! :)
So there you have it. The story of my first bike crash and ordeal in the ER. As cyclists say:
"There are those that have crashed and those who have YET to crash."
The choice is yours. Life is what you make of it.