Friday, May 15, 2009

Broken Wrist, Broken Dream?


I am bummed right now. Everything I have done since July 12, 2008, was to prepare myself for Newton's Revenge on July 11, 2009. A 42-mile Bike to Work Day ride may have ended that today when I crashed and broke at least my wrist. Even if cast is off in time my fitness will be shot.

Broken Wrist

I made it up the "Rockpile" last year, albeit badly, and Mary Power, the Mount Washington Auto Road Events Director told me it gets in your blood. And it does.

I started walking the 12 floors each morning to my office rather than riding the elevator. I was committed to dropping 12 pounds to a more favorable climbing weight of 160. And I was down to 164.

I hadn't yet made the changes to the front ring but was planning to drop it to a serious climbing gear of 24 teeth. I bought a set of lighter wheels perfect for climbing. Last year I was one of the few riders who rode the race in a standard factory setup with no gear modifications. This year was going to be different.

I started a training program designed to increase my power. And after the first week of workouts it may have been working. I noticed that this morning I averaged 20 mph to Occoquan over 6.5 miles. I wondered if I was already getting a benefit.

In the past three weekends I rode the Blue Ridge Ramble, Blue Knob Ski Resort, and a classic ride from Myersville, Md. to Pennsylvania and back, Happy Happy Pain Pain. I was feeling good.

And I was feeling great today.

Road bikes are designed for the road. And roads are usually straight with gradual curves and grades, Mount Washington being an exception. Not so much these bike paths. Unfortunately, bike paths are often squeezed into spaces where roads don't fit. They fly up and over existing roadways or tunnel under highways. They can have steeper than normal grades and sharper turns.

I had followed the Washington & Old Dominion rail trail to the Custis Trail. The Custis Trail goes through Rosslyn in Arlington Co. then descends down to the Mount Vernon Trail. At this point I was 38 miles into my Bike To Work Day ride, I came upon this descent and let the bike roll. I was doing 20 mph when I saw a sharp turn to the left. Overnight rains had left a gooey mess of mud and moss mixed in with some gravel.

I used my rear brake to slow the bike for the curve ahead but the tire slid in the muck. I released the brake and leaned and steered the bike through the turn. My momentum took the bike through the curve and the wheels slipped out from under me.

I hit the asphalt real hard and went sliding across it until I came to a stop. I could feel road rash on my left thigh and could see it on my leg. One thing to be thankful for: shaved legs. Without hair ripping out more skin, the damage to my leg was relatively minor in comparison to the rest of my body.

I unclipped and saw the blood on my hand and could feel that my wrist hurt. A couple of riders came by and asked if I was hurt. I told them I was. They kept going.

I brushed myself off, poured water on my hand and legs to get most of the dirt off, then rode four more miles to work. More than half the time I held my arm like a broken wing and rode with one hand. It hurt to use the injured hand to steer.

At work I got some assistance taking off my jersey and in cleaning up. I then went to my office (via elevator -- this was the first day I didn't take the stairs). I worked for about 15 minutes before deciding the emergency room visit was necessary.

Now I face the question of what's next. Six weeks in a cast will take me to June 30. If I am off the bike until then there is no way I will have the fitness or climbing legs to make Mount Washington. I am really bummed right now.

Monday I go for a hard cast. I haven't been told how serious the break is or if there is more than one. If I can ride a trainer during this time it won't be the same as being on the road but there's still a chance. My only chance now is being able to ride a trainer...

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