Friday, December 2, 2011
Greetings from the BCC carnage hospital. I couldn't let all the East Coast cool kidz BCC'ers have all the fun. 7 weeks ago right now at this very moment in time, I thought it would be a great idea to head out for a quick after work ride (remember sunshine after 5pm?!?!)on the way home to Denver from Super Bike Land (Boulder, CO). I figured a quick 1.5 hour mountain bike singletrack tempo riding around Flat Iron Vista would provide some nice preparation for upcoming cyclocross endeavors.
Well, it was going great until about 45 minutes in....when I escaped a slow, twisty rocky section of trail for a wide open descending, flow inducing meadow section. Powering, accelerating my 29er Specialized Epic up to full speed.....I look long down the trail, ensuring a clear path.....then POW!!!! and Oh dear.......under full power a perfect storm of devastation erupted. As I was looking down the trail, my right toe clipped a rock........the following chain of events was odd. The power, mixed with the violence of the impact jammed my heel into the crank.....binding my foot and forcing my forefoot to rotate 90+ degrees laterally (in case you are wondering....this isn't normal) and my tibia (big bone in lower leg) and fibula (small bone in lower leg) both snapped. Amazingly, due to the high speed I was going (Garmin indicated a bit over 20mph on the singletrack) and the physics of everything.....I didn't crash. My momentum kept me going and I eventually coasted to a stop......and wilted off my bike. Laying flat on my back on the singletrack looking at the sky......I pushed my trusty steed to the side and knew what I was about to see. I tilted my head up......and yep.....my right foot was facing the wrong way. AHHHHHH!! A moment of panic.....a yell for help......a grab for the cell phone.
911......"hello.......I've just broken my leg badly mountain biking and I'm alone on the trail"
Interlude of facts:
Its October 14th, 2011
This is a my celebratory 35th birthday ride (birthday was a few days earlier)
Its 5pm and warm
I'm near town on a moderately tame trail system
I've ridden this system a lot
My cell call to 911 is dropped (thanks AT&T)
It's going to be getting dark soon
The sun is dropping below the Flat Irons
The temperature is dropping
I can't move.
This is where things get fuzzy. I panicked a bit, because I was alone......but my second call to 911 went through and the respond with "we are on the way". I respond....."hey.....i'm out in the woods.....3+ miles from the trailhead." They claim to know how to get to me. I unloaded in furious fashion as many details of my location on the first call.....in case I passed out or went into shock.
About this time, two high school mountain bike racer kids came on site. They were great. These kids stayed cool and just talked with me. I asked them if they would stay until someone else showed up.....and show up they did. Over the next 45 minutes or so, about 15+ mountain bikers stopped to help and check on things. I was in no shape to move and going into shock....shaking and chilled. It had been a hot day, but in Colorado in October....once the sun goes down......the temps can drop quickly!! We have zero humidity usually. A wonder lady named Cathy stopped and helped hold my foot in place. I was shaking and causing my leg to flop a bit....which was driving pain. She held it in place and just talked to me. I passed my iPhone to the high school kids and said...."hey....snap some photos!"
In the distance I could hear sirens. It felt like an eternity, but help was on the way. I had called my wife April and left her a message......the Boulder Sheriff's office called her too. Freaked out....once again my new friend Cathy talked to April on the phone from the trail. Basically what I am saying is that while we are all quick to say how horrible things are in the world today with society and all.......there is still greatness and kindness in so many. The help and attention I received on the trail that day was amazing.
After about 45 minutes of laying in the trail......the search-rescue team arrived with paramedics, a ranger, a sheriff and assorted other folks. All in all I'd say my phone call, deployed at least 15 experts to come to my aid. I felt guilty and constantly was apologizing and thanking all of them over and over again. They splinted my leg, IV'd me, wrapped me in blankets and loaded me in a gurney with mountain bike wheels and hand brakes. They used 4 people at a time to roll my 4x4 stretcher up the trail to a nearby access point. While I was far from any and all trailheads, I was close to a fire access road that flanked the rear of the open space park. Loaded in the ambulance, I watched through the rear window as the park ranger handed my Epic 29er off to my friend Jay, who Angel Cathy had also called for me from the trail.
I arrived at the hospital around 6:30 pm (only 1.5 hours after my incident). Normal hospital ER stuff followed......with the exception of the horrendous swelling in my leg. I was a ripe candidate for compartment syndrome, which is scary!! If the swelling did not stop....they were going to have to filet my leg open to release the pressure. Ugh. Oh and I need surgery. But not until the swelling stopped and went down..........so upstairs to sleep in the hospital for the night (somewhere in there around midnight......my poor wife went to find us food......Taco Bell). The Next day (Saturday) I was sent home to rest for a WEEK with a broken leg to allow the swelling to go down. My surgery would follow the next Friday October 21st.
Surgery was successful, but actually a bit painful. I was knocked out of course, but the surgery ended up being nearly 3 hours, instead of the 1.5 hours they told me. Off to recovery and another night in the hospital. Yay. That was a long night. My body rejected almost all of the narcotics they gave me.....well I should say it didn't respond to any of them......morphine, percocet, dilaudid, or vicodin.....but oxycontin worked!
I've never broken any bones before (just 2 fractured fingers)
I've never had surgery before
I've never spent the night in the hospital (now I've spent 2!!)
I left the hospital with some new hardware....a titanium tibial rod INSIDE my tibia and 6 titanium screws.
And if anyone is wonder.....that is $9500 worth of titanium in my leg.....so your custom built titanium Dura Ace road bike with carbon wheels is a GREAT DEAL!!!! Enjoy it.
Now in closing the next chapter. Six weeks post surgery....and still on crutches. Doctor told me today I have 6 more weeks of crutches at least. I can start standing lightly on my right leg as of today. I've been back on the bike for a few weeks now (stationary trainer, flat pedals and no resistance). The doctor has also given me the green light to add resistance now. Total recovery for my bones is 3-4 months.
It was a freak incident....not even an accident. Everything is different now.....everything.....well except for I registered for a 100 mile mountain bike race today! 2012 Bailey Hundo in Bailey Colorado....June 16th, 2012. I'll be there riding hard one way or another. Doctor said it was a great idea.....and I think he wants to race it too!! Now I just have to beat him.....gotta love Colorado.