A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Break in Training

I went out for a short ride today and ended up riding in an ambulance to Sky Ridge Medical Center. Leslie picked me up there and drove me home with my right arm in a sling with a badly broken collarbone. As you can see in this X-ray, my right clavicle is broken in two places.
So, I won't be riding...or running...or swimming...anytime soon. Guess maybe I'm due for a break (pun intended) after a full summer of events including my first Half Ironman triathlon, my first (and second) half marathon, and my third Ride the Rockies.

My last ride of the summer ended about a mile from my house on a steep downhill in my neighborhood. I left my house heading out on my normal route, but for whatever reason I decided to go straight across Coachline Road into a new section of The Meadows, rather than turning left and heading towards the mountains. It was one of those decisions that you later regret and wonder how things would be different if you hadn't made it.

As I headed along Foothills Drive, two cars passed on my left, but then the downhill grade got steeper and I picked up speed, keeping pace with the cars. Coasting at a good clip in the bike lane on the right, I suddenly realized the cars were slowing down. I began braking, but then the car ahead signaled a right hand turn onto a side street. I hit the brakes harder, but 215 lbs. traveling downhill at 35 mph carries a lot of momentum. My rear tire locked up and began fishtailing and as the car began to turn right it became evident I was not going to stop in time.

Whether I hit the car or the car hit me, one thing is for certain...in a car vs. bike collision, the car always wins. Fortunately the impact was more of a glancing blow than a direct hit, but it was enough to launch me into the air. The next thing I knew I was lying on my back in the middle of the intersection. At the time I didn't think I blacked out -- or as the EMT guy in the ambulance radioed to the hospital, I "denied losing consciousness" -- but I must have because I don't remember flying through the air or landing on the asphalt on my right shoulder.

I laid on my back until the ambulance arrived, without moving...except to make sure I could move my arms and legs. I felt remarkably OK, except for the pain in my shoulder. After a bumpy and painful ambulance ride, the X-rays confirmed what I already knew (I could feel the break in my collarbone when I ran my fingers along it). The folks at Sky Ridge, including Mike and Chad (at left), took great care of me and took care of the pain with some intraveneous dilaudid.

So as I sit on my couch tonight watching Saving Private Ryan and typing this with my left hand, I'm feeling pretty lucky. I could, and probably should, be hurting much worse than I am.

Oh, in case you were wondering, my bike is toast. The aluminum frame is bent. But it was about time to upgrade to carbon anyway :) I'm not sure about the car. As I was loaded into the ambulance, I saw the passenger side mirror dangling from a wire. From the look of the cuts on my left knee, my guess is I took the mirror off with it as I went over the top of my handlebars.

No doubt about it, though, the car won.


  1. Enjoyed the read but hate imagining you flipping over that car. Just so you know, I was on your blog a few days ago and it really doesn't take a broken collar bone to get your siblings to visit your blog!!! :) Denise

  2. Denise -- I wish I had known that before I went to all this trouble!

  3. Daren, this is one reason I stick to the mountains with my bike - no cars! That said, I shattered my own collarbone several years ago mislanding a jump on my bike. But cars...much scarier. Well, now you have time to read all those articles in Bicycling and Triathlon Magazine. And I'd say "rest up" but "resting" may be more of a problem than you wish it were - at least it was for me. Go for the Tylenol PM and take a few days off. Brian


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