Accidents can happen…

Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Training

Well, it took 11 years and something like 35,000 miles of cycling before the inevitable would happen.  This past Saturday, I had my first biking accident.  It happened at the end of a 90+ mile ride and just a few blocks from home.  As I crossed 135th Street in Harlem, a road that features three lanes in each direction, one on each side for parking, and two on each side for driving.  A Lincoln town car, a livery cab, was double-parked and in order to pass it, I quickly glanced behind me to make sure I had the time and space.  Within a very tight moment, the driver’s side read door swung open literally within two feet of my arrival… and I hit the edge of that door, not the wide or broad side, at about 18 miles per hour.  I didn’t even have time to feather my brakes or twitch to the left 8 inches.  Upon contact with the door, I vaulted forward doing a flip over the handlebars and landed a good four feet in front of the car on my back.  I was still clicked into the bike and it landed on me.  I could hear cars screeching to a halt and was relieved to not get run over.

I waited a good thirty seconds before attempting to move.  In retrospect, I realize that I did so to get an assessment of the damage to my body.  I knew fairly quickly that I wasn’t badly hurt and within a few moments, some guys came over to help me up.  As they did that, some bystanders yelled at them to not touch me in case I had a spinal injury.  I knew I was okay, and appreciated the help to get upright.  My bike, fortunately, was not damaged at all, so I carefully walked to the sidewalk, propped the bike up against a pole, and then began reviewing my injuries.  They were limited to just 5-6 abrasions and some immediate bruising.  A bystander called 911 next to me while the driver and passengers apologized profusely to me.  I wasn’t able to laugh at the time, but a funny story came from this when the called told the 911 operator that a cyclist just got hit by a car.  The driver of the car quickly and enthusiastically yelled, “No no no no, he hit me.  I didn’t hit him.  No no no.”  He was right and that distinction would be important, if I had cared to take issue with the driver or file a police report, which I didn’t.

Within a few minutes, EMS, FDNY, and NYPD vehicles showed up and tended to me in the back of an ambulance.  I explained that without neck or back injuries, I should be okay to be released, and after checking my vitals (I was wearing my heart rate monitor, so I actually made their job easier!), they let me go.  I carefully rode home and checked my body when I got home.  All seemed okay.  Even my new Ironman Germany cycling kit was okay with no tears or rips.  Amazing.

My coach had prescribed a 45 minute run after this ride and I was very sure that I’d be perfectly excused to bail on that.  But, when I got home, I felt like doing so would be wimpy, so I put on my run gear and decided that I’d run just a little bit as an assessment.  I made it to Central Park, about 1.2 miles away, and went to the water fountain where I splashed water on all of my injuries.  It stung but I was okay with it.  I then ran to the next water fountain a good 10 minutes away and did it again.  It stung less, so I kept going.  In the end, I ran around 9 miles at a very good clip and felt like at the end, I had plenty of gas in the tank to run another bunch of miles.  Very encouraging!

On Sunday, I cycled another few hours including a focus on hills for the first half, and a higher intensity effort for the return trip home.  While I felt some understandable fatigue from all of these miles, and was sore from accident, I felt quite good.  It was really encouraging to think that I could do back-t0-back rides, like last weekend, and despite an accident and long run afterwards, having good power made me feel like I could have a good day in Kona!  To that end, I followed coach’s advice and did a few sessions in a sauna to get my blood plasma levels up.  I went to Fernando’s building that features a health club and sauna, and put in my first 18 minute session.  In the beginning, it wasn’t so hard.  I was focused on reading my book, but at the 12 minute mark, it got too hot for me to even read.  I made it to 18 minutes, stepped out to take a 1 minute cold shower, spent another minute filling up my water bottle and hydrating, then went back in.  The second 18 minute session was brutal.  I had to put the book down at the 6 minute mark, and for the next 12 minutes, I rocked side-to-side and chanted a bit as I watched the seconds tick by.  It took all of my mental strength to remain in that cauldron.  For the record, it was 188 degrees!  The next cold shower lasted 8 minutes and while I really wanted to complete the session with my final 18-20 minute session, I decided that I was too depleted and that my heart rate had spiked too high for it to be done safely… so I called it a day.

Tomorrow, I have a 2.5 hour run before work which means getting up at 4 a.m. and getting out on the road some time before 5 a.m.  Ugh.  As of this writing, 26 days till the race, and 21 days until our flight out there.  I can’t wait!  Fingers crossed that there are no more snafus.

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