2004 - The Year of Bike Accidents

What can I say? This was a baaaaaad year for staying upright on the bike. Shit happens and all you can do is pick yourself up and move forward.

What follows are two accounts of the perils of my bike racing during the 2004 season. (click the titles to expand the stories)

show the bike accident the big one

note: images of the surgery can be found below.

On April 18, 2004 I was racing near Boulder, Colorado. The weather conditions for the day were absolutely horrid. Not in the sense of rain or snow, but wind that blew anything and everything out of its path. From little critters to shaven legged, pigeon chested, lycra clad cyclists. Nothing was safe.

I was descending down a step section of the course when a very nasty cross wind caught me and completely blew me across the road and into the dirt shoulder. I tried to hang onto the bike, but the wind wouldn't let up. My efforts to stay upright quickly turned into an extended superman-like attempt at flying; all while going around 50mph.

As gravity got the better of me, I landed smack on the back of my head (broke the helmet) and then the rest of my body followed in a cartwheel-type fashion, whipping down on my knee with full force... I actually thought I broke my leg as I lay there in numbing pain, pondering what I'd do if no one found me at the bottom of the embankment.

4/18/2004 - Emergency Room Prognosis....

I completely tore my left knee's MCL. It is so torn, that the ER doc had other doc's come in and take a look at how far she could bend my knee outwardly; almost as if I had another joint that was perpendicular to the knee. The knee is pretty swollen and there's not a lot an orthopedic can do about it until the swelling goes down. I have scheduled an appointment for Wednesday with the bone-doc's and will see what they can do. My initial feeling is I'm probably out of racing for at least 8 weeks.

As for my head - seems the helmet took the brunt of the force as all I have is giant bump, no concussion related injury.

4/28/2004 - Post MRI Prognosis...

Initially, the orthopedic surgeon I saw didn't think I had done too much damage to my knee, however...

The results of the MRI came back with worse than expected results. In summary, here's what the MRI showed:

  1. A completely torn MCL which retracted up into my leg. On a scale of 1-3, this is called a grade 3+ tear.
  2. A partially torn PCL (ligament in the back of the knee).
  3. A partially blown Meniscus sack.
  4. A broken bone - not in the traditional sense. The MRI detailed the inside of the tibia leading into the knee at the ball portion - the inside is exploded like a grenade went off in there. The doc's were puzzled why the bone didn't actually break in 1/2.
  5. Surgery is inevitable.

Helluva birthday present, huh?

5/3/2004 - The Surgery...

I had surgery on Monday and have been laid up on drugs since then.

When the surgeons actually got inside my knee, they found that the MCL was more than just torn, it was sort of shredded. The surgeons did their best to reset the MCL and had to use a couple of pins to keep it in place.

They also found that my PCL was worse than the MRI showed and had to do some clean up on it. If it doesn't heal properly, I'll have to go in for a second operation to repair the PCL.

note: the following photos may not be suited for the faint of heart as they are actual images of the surgery...


And finally, the prognosis:

  • I'm laid up for a couple of weeks - I can get up and be out and about, but only for a few hours at a time as I get exhausted quite easily and the drugs can make me nauseous and delirious at times.
  • I have to use a CRP machine that mechanically bends my knee for me at least six hours a day.
  • I'm on lots of pain killers - this hurts more than I ever would have expected.
  • If all goes well, I can be back on the bike within a month or two doing just very easy spins, nothing with any pressure.
  • Within a few weeks after that, I may be able to ride a tempo ride.
  • If the rehab goes well, I'll be able to race by September.
  • I get to use a handicapped parking sticker for the next 3 months :)

Of course, the above are best case scenarios and assume that the pins in the MCL will hold and the ligaments will heal.

8/17/2004 - Update

Well, it's been awhile now. Here's what's been going on.

The two or thee weeks after the surgery was the most miserable time in my life. Constant pain. Barely able to do anything for myself. Countless hours of watching the most mundane daytime television. Several hours of not-so-enjoyable pain killers. Fighting my crutches anytime I had to get from a to b to c to a again.

However, things only got better after the first few weeks. Physical therapy started and I immediately began to feel better. The more I was able to work out, the more in synch my mind and body became. The pain killers were soon a thing of the past and before I knew it, I had dropped the crutches and was re-learning how to walk again.

About three weeks after starting physical therapy, I was able to get on my bike and go for easy spins. LOL - picture a pimped out race bike with big ol' platform pedals since I couldn't use my clipless pedals due to the strain caused to the knee.

The first time I was back on my bike, I felt a huge wave of relief rush through me. I was smiling like a kid on his first bike :-)

I'm out of physical therapy now and am able to train at a high intensity again. The doc's are amazed at how fast I have recovered. And I am just happy that I can walk again, ya know?

I've even done a couple of races the past two weeks. The first race back, I was super nervous... that was short-lived though. I survived 20 minutes of the race and was spit out the back like a wee tyke. The second race went much better. I was able to hang in the main pack, even covered a couple of breaks and went on an attack myself. In the end I finished 25th which ain't too shabby.

 

show the bike accident Igby Goes Down

September 25, 2004

Most of you know I race the kind of bikes powered by the Anti-Atkins diet (aka, road cycling). And most of you know that I had a nasty ol' accident at the beginning of the year that essentially took me out for the season and was nearly career ending. A long story short: I completely shredded my left knee's MCL, partially tore the PCL, blew a meniscus sack and had some bone damage.

igby goes down.

Amazingly enough, I've been able to race again this year. After surgery and many months of PT, my ability to recover far exceeded anyone's expectations.

igby gets back on the bike.

Yesterday I headed down to our last race of the season. Here's a sampling of some of the guys in the field: Colby Pierce: Went to Athen's this year. Chris Baldwin: Was a top 10 Tour of Brit this year. And 75 other scary fast riders.

The race was a 60 minute criterium (shortened from 90 min.) around a 1k "D" shaped course. From the gun, we were on-the-rivet hanging on for dear life. Every other lap and often times multiple laps in a succession were $100 primes.

Around the 25 minute mark, I thought a complete blow-up was inevitable and I'd have to drop out of the race... then I thought to myself: f*ck it! I don't care how fast we go or how hard I have to push... I'm not stopping until something wretched comes out of either end of my body.

About 10 minutes later I finally settled into a good rhythm and found my legs. I could move up in the field without spending too much energy. I even considered going for one of the primes, (LOL), but thought better of it since I would have completely blown up from the energy spent.

Here we are, mach-speed-racing around this 1k D-shaped course... at one point I felt like I was on a merry-go-round. Remember being a kid and spinning on the merry? hanging on the outside? just barely able to stay on? That's how I felt coming through the back-side apex of the "D" in the course... if we went any faster, I was going to be tossed from my bike just like when I was a kid riding the merry :)

Coming down to the last 10 laps of the race, I really started to feel good. I was moving up in the field and eventually found myself in the top 20. Our speed was severely kicking into over-drive and my legs kept pumping like a 2-stroke hopped up engine. Holding my position strong, the last lap was coming up fast and I was sitting in a position I never thought possible after being hobbled with a bum knee and surgery at the beginning of the year.

Last race of the year, last tight corner of the year. And this was no ordinary corner: The straight leading up to the corner was nice new asphalt. Just prior to the corner the surface transitioned to concrete. This was older concrete; the kind that is on the slick side. Adding to the corner's sadistic ways was a big ol' curbed/planter median that separated traffic on the street. And to top it off, the corner was off-camber with big metal barriers on the curb to keep the spectators from stepping onto the track.

We must have been going at least 30mph coming into that last corner. I was following the wheel in front of me. No more than a foot separated my front wheel from his rear. And then it happened!

igby goes down.

The guy in front of me decided he wanted to sit down for a bit. His wheels came out from under him right in the apex of the corner. Leaving no where to go. Physics prevented me from going inside of him. There was no more road left to go on the outside, just a big ugly curb in my way. I locked up my brakes for all of a 1/10th of a second before the inevitable impact.

With nothing left to do but run right over the guy on the ground I found myself in mid air going head-over-heels. Glory, glory, glory. Time came to a screeching halt. I vividly saw the guy on the ground. The big metal barriers were grinning at me with an expected collision from me freeing them from the confines of the street. Every detail around me was in high-definition. I was in the Matrix.

And just like that I snapped back into time, but this time in fast forward. Next thing I knew I was landing smack on the back of my head with my right shoulder cushioning the fall. I crashed into the metal barriers which prevented me from a further whipping of my body. The metal barriers I found myself so intimately involved with came off the ground and took out a couple of the spectators.

I'm not sure if I was knocked unconscious. But, Wow! That was fun :-D A quick inventory of my body parts. The knee I had surgery on just a few months ago was unscathed. My other knee had a nice patch of skin missing. My helmet was smashed. And my head had a nice numbing effect. Hmmm... why can't I move my right shoulder very much? Doh! I re-separated the darned thing :-(

There I lay, last lap of the last race of the season. No less than 3 paramedics pushing and poking on all parts of my body. Does this hurt? How 'bout now? How 'bout this? OK, you'll live :) After 5-10 minutes of laying there, I pull myself off the ground with a lot of help from the boys, but am able to walk off on my own accord.

On the bright side of things, nothing wretched came out from either end.

igby goes down.

 

Well, that's all for now,
::kindler chase::

 

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This page last updated on 10/24/2007