Yesterday I fell. Thankfully it was in a bike lane and not in the middle of Second Ave. But I think I broke a bone in my shoulder. Maybe the scapula (shoulder bone), maybe that and a bit more. Tomorrow I’m going to reassess it and (maybe*) go to the doctor. (*As in, “maybe I won’t be a fool, and actually go see the doctor two days after the accident.”)
It happened in a predictable way.
As one does, I was riding fast in the Second Ave. bike lane in the East Village. Cutting with confidence through the slush and snow and over the ice. Thought I was the boss, didn’t I? Feeling sure of my gear — specifically my fat carbide steel studded tires — as one does, before being reminded of how soft one really is…compared to asphalt. Hit a patch of frozen slush which then lost cohesion. And suddenly I was flying through the air, with the greatest of ease, down to the street, shoulder first. Arm, hip, and leg impact next.
That should tell you something: I wasn’t riding a bent. And it should tell you something else: no matter how good your tires — and I still love my Schwalbe Marathon Winters — they only grip as well as the substance they’re gripping to. Ice, hey that’s great. But semi-frozen slush? Look out.
Now, had I been riding a bent, I would have hit the pavement ass first, and from only two feet off the ground. Instead, I was riding my beater diamond frame, an awesome Surly Cross Check as I usually do during the messy months, and so my shoulder had a good six feet to travel down to the streetscape. Of course, it was exactly as I always tell people; on a DF, it’s usually the upper body that leads in a fall; on a bent, it’s the feet and ass. You’re better off leading with your feet and ass.
Well, I got up and kept going. And continued my day. Saw friends. Attended a discussion about the nature of reality (you don’t miss this kind of thing when it’s moderated by Deepak Chopra). Had coffee. Attended the Downtown Meditation Community’s potluck. And rode another 15 miles or so on slippery streets. As a real man (a.k.a. idiot) does. I still had full rotation of my arm and wrist, didn’t hit my head, nothing obviously broken. I could support my upper body on the handlebars w/o problem. But all the while well aware: the body and mind can mask injuries initially (as it’s supposed to do).
Thank God I didn’t tear the merino. (That’s really amazing stuff.) And thankfully my 800-fill down sweater was safely stowed in my rear basket. That would have been a mess.
But today, darn it, the shoulder pain has increased, as it might for a broken scapula.
Friggn-A. Like I needed a reminder. If you’re going to fall on a bike — and everyone falls sooner or later — it’s better to fall from a bent, than a diamond frame. Better to fall towards your legs and ass then towards your head and shoulders.
Go ride a bent.
Update: saw the MD, got X-rays. Nothing broken! Just bone bruises. As for tendon or ligament damage, I’m still waiting. Maybe, just maybe I haven’t blown my swimming season.
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copyright 2011 Robert Matson
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