July 4, 2017. Pretty day on Vail Mountain. Feeling my oats on my new Rocky Mountain dual suspension mountain bike. Exceeding my skill level at a high rate of speed, I looked at what I could hit, instead of following a path that could easily take me to safety, just 20 yards or so away. Instead I went down and instantly knew I broke something. My left clavicle (collarbone) was broken in a number of pieces (comminuted).
Most of you know what I do primarily for a living. I represent cyclists who get hit by motor vehicles or find themselves injured due to design or construction flaws. Oddly, I developed a tube sticker for reference as to what to do if hit by a car but didn’t consider what could occur if you’re by yourself and get in a crash.
While I was on Vail Mountain on the 4th of July, there were very few riders, which seemed odd. In the winter I’m a ski instructor at Vail Ski School Golden Peak, so I knew exactly where I was. The point is, I hadn’t told anyone where I was or what I was doing. Once I dusted myself off and cleaned up some blood, I rode catwalks the rest of the way down. There was no ski patrol, nor did I expect it. I finally came across another rider, who saw my disheveled appearance, and asked. “You ok man?” I said, “Sure but I just broke my collarbone.” When I got to Vail Village, I realized I had no driver’s license or insurance card so I rode 7 miles to my condo to get necessary paperwork. Adrenalin is amazing.
I went to the ER, got xray confirmation, pain pills, and the next day drove home to KC. Two days later my neck and side of face throbbed from being banged up against an embankment, which at the time I didn’t even consider part of the crash. Now I’m dealing with insurance, medicare (yes, I’m that old), co-pays, pain, etc. etc. etc. Sometimes a vacation is no vacation.
Now the next trick is doing what I preach to my bike clients, stay off the bike and let healing take place. 11 weeks I’m told. Not the summer I wanted.
Lessons to be learned.
1. Know your limitations. Maybe get some specialized training and more protective gear.
2. Let people know where you are going.
3. Have cell phone and phone numbers in easy access in case of emergency.
4. Have ID and insurance card with you.
5. Wear your helmet. It did its job.
Wanted to share this story with you. See you on two wheels in the fall.