I headed out early Sunday morning for what would the first of my last two big 5 hour rides before starting to taper for my “A” race of the season, Ironman Lake Placid 2018. Due to some questionable rainy weather on Saturday and the fact I love running in the rain, I swapped my long ride and run days. I was heading into this last ride with about 12 hours of training for the week. I had an almost Iron-distance swim on Friday at Dutch Springs on Friday and a good 19 mile run on Saturday. I was feeling good and ready to get a good 90-100 mile ride in.
I was planning to follow the old DCT ride route which works out to around 94 miles or so. It was a bit humid and foggy when I started out around 7:40am that morning. I made my usual way out to Kutztown and then headed North about 10 miles in, making my way up to Kempton. There were very cars out and it was pretty pleasant riding.
I crossed over RT 222 and made my way up Long Lane Road which eventually merges with Eagle Point Road before breaking off to the left soon after. I took a little shortcut onto Wessner Road in order to grab a good vista picture of all the farmland I had just passed. Long Lane Road starts a long gradual climb right after this breakoff point. My legs were a bit fatigued this morning due to the 19 mile run the day before. I took my time and settled into a steady and gradual pace up the hill.
I climbed the two little steep kickers right before finally hitting the crest of the climb. Long Lane Road was paved last year and they managed to not oil-and-chip it yet, so it made for a really nice road to ride. After the crest of the climb is a short but fast little descent which goes under an overpass which carries Interstate 78 before sharply heading back uphill to a stop sign on old Route 22.
I started descending down the downhill section and put my sunglasses back on to block the wind. I had ridden this same stretch about a month before and remembered it being pretty free and clear of any road issues. I remember thinking about going into the aerobars, which means no access to my brakes and am not quite sure what I ever decided on. I have a feeling I did go aero though. I switch back-and-forth so much that I am not always cognizant of it.
I began picking up a bunch of speed rather quickly. I headed into the overpass which was especially dark this morning and my sunglasses didn’t help lighten it up either. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was up to about 37 mph at this point. I was just about to exit the dark underpass when out of nowhere came this extremely loud and heavy thud on my front wheel. By the time I realized I was going down hard I was out into the daylight again. Everything went in slow motion. I remember thinking “Oh shit…this is not going to be good!” I attempted to try to regain control to no avail. I was heading to the middle of the road, right where the large grooves that rattle your car so you don’t cross lanes are. Hitting these made sure I was going down. I hit the road on my right side with my right forehead and helmet pushing into the road as skidded to a stop. I can still picture the asphalt whizzing by my eye as I slowed.
I surprisingly jumped immediately to my feet and began taking inventory. Blood was dripping from above my right eye. I was afraid to see what my head looked like. Fortunately, I didn’t feel like I had any broken bones. I checked and re-checked my collarbone. That and my hip was sore but I didn’t think it was broken. The road rash was prevalent on my forearms and right calf. My cycling shorts were ripped but the road rashed part was hidden from the whole at the time. I could surely feel it. My shoulder was sore and my jersey was scuffed but surprisingly no holes were visible.
I have a Cycliq rear bike light and video camera which was running at the time of the crash. So here is the video looking from the rear of my bike at least for most of it.
I collected my sunglasses, which were strewn about the road but not broken surprisingly. The legs came unclipped from the removable lenses like they are supposed to. My water bottles were on both sides of the road and my Garmin bike computer in the middle. It was like a cyclist yard sale. Surprisingly my bike didn’t seem in too bad of shape. My right brake handle was bent a bit and one of my overpriced carbon X-Lab bottle cages was smashed. Both of my tires were also blown out, but other than that nothing else was obviously broken.
A couple cars drove by as I was cleaning things up and not one of them stopped to see if I was ok. I thought how lucky I was that they were not driving by when that happened or I would probably not be writing this at this time. I got my cell phone out to call my wife and have her start on her way to come to pick me up. She was supposed to go out running at that time so that could leave me waiting this out for a while. The phone took a while to connect due to the low signal in this low-lying area. I didn’t realize it but it had connected and went to my wifes’ voicemail. I then left a message that I crashed my bike, told her generally where I was and that she should come to pick me up.
I started my way hobbling up the hill towards old Route 22. It is a short and steep little hill and walking in cycling shoes with a wet road is tricky to begin with. Let alone while writhing in pain. I knew that there was a church across old RT22, so I was hoping to get there and get cleaned up a bit. It was also a bit higher and figured I would have better cell signal there in case my wife called me back.
My wife returned my call right as I was approaching the church. She said she was a little freaked out by the initial silence of the voice message I left. She had initially thought I had gotten hit by a car and was in a ditch or something. She was quickly relieved once I started talking. I told her my location and she hung up to start making her way to get me. Fortunately, she had procrastinated going on her run and was still home.
While still talking to my wife a little older lady was walking by me on her way into the church. She said Hi and did a double take when she saw my “wounds.” I asked her if there was a bathroom in the church that I could clean myself up a bit. She quickly ushered me down to basement bathroom where I was able to clean up my road rash a bit. The pastor and another lady stopped in to see how I was. I managed to snap a few pics in the mirror for Instagram.
After using up most of a roll of paper towels cleaning up, I sat outside the church waiting for my wife to arrive. It was a really nice day out. My wife pulled up and we hoisted the bike on the bike rack and headed home. We swung by the scene of the crash to see what actually caused me to crash. Up to this point, I really had no idea and thought to myself how odd it was that I didn’t go and look afterward.
As we drove up it appeared to be a large piece of concrete sitting on the road. The only place that could have come from is from breaking off the overpass or someone putting it there intentionally. THere were a couple other smaller pieces closer to the side too.
I was relieved to get home and peel off my cycling kit. I cleaned up rashes a bit more and plopped on the sofa. My wife headed out to do her run and pickup bandage materials. While I was sitting there I got a text from one my cycling buddies from work. He had seen the pictures online and recommended going to an Urgent Care and getting stitches in my head. I thought about it for few minutes and decided that it might be a good idea to get checked out at least.
I headed over to the ExpressCare and they got me in pretty quick. I ended up getting 4 stitches in my head and they cleaned up some of my road rash. It went smoothly and I was glad I went for sure.
My bike shop was right next door to the ExpressCare and I still had my bike on the back of my truck, so I figured I would drop that off while I was there. I surely would not be riding for a few days! It turned out that the deraileur hanger was bent and on my bike it is part of the frame. The bike mechanic warned me that if it would break off, my frame would be shot. Most newer bikes have this as a replaceable part, but my bike is about 12 years old not the case. I told him to go for it, what other choice do I have? He managed to bend it back without issue.
THey also found that my rear Reynolds carbon aero wheels’ brake rim was collapsing in too. He didn’t think this was from the crash, but thought this was a bigger issue. The wheels are 5 years old so they may have just worn out a bit. I will figure that out later I guess.
I spent the last week-and-half oozing all over and replacing bandages. Once the oosing subsided I started using Tagaderm adhesive which is AWESOME for road rash. If it is in a static place it will last through exercise and showers too.
I have finally gotten back on the bike trainer a bit too. We have been in an extreme heatwave lately so it kind of nice to be in the basement. My expectations for Ironman Lake Placid this year have definitely changed a bit now. I have gone from having a killer race to just wanting to finish. I lost a whole week of big volume and two big volume bike rides. Not sure how that will pan out.
One good thing is my wife gave me the go-ahead to get a new triathlon bike which is on its way. I have been itching for one for the last year and she finally gave me the green light. I guess IMLP will be a test run that hopefully. More on that in a future post.
So, the bottom line is I am on the mend now. I am so fortunate to have walked away from that crash with what little injury I had. It could have been so much worse. I still have a few late season races to go, so even if IMLP is a wash I still have some time to crush something. I surely I am going to not be so complacent riding on road I cannot see and maybe just hitting the brake a little on those downhills.
BE SAFE OUT THERE!!