Oct 17 2014

Yesterday Was The End of My Biking Career

First off – I’m ok. But here’s the story.

“Ouch”

“You’re in an ambulance. I’m just putting an IV in your arm,” said a disembodied voice.

I had no idea where I was. I had a vague recollection that I had been on a bike.

“You’re in ambulance. You are ok. Stay calm.”

I realized I was tightly strapped to a board and couldn’t move if I wanted to. My legs hurt. My ribs hurt. My shoulders hurt.

I couldn’t figure out what had happened. I couldn’t process where I was. I felt like I was coming out of a dream, but I couldn’t remember the dream. I couldn’t open my eyes.

The doctor asked, “What day is it.”

I responded, “I have no idea.” I forgot to say that I usually have no idea what day it is.

Patiently, the doctor asked, “Who is the president?”

I thought to myself “George Bush” but I paused, knowing that wasn’t correct. After a short time, I answered “Barack Obama.”

“What is your name.”

“Brad”

“Good. You seem ok. Do you know what day it is yet?”

I responded, “I generally don’t know what day it is.”

The next thing I remember was hitting a bump and opening my eyes to see a woman pushing me through some doors.

“Hang on – we are just wheeling you into the emergency room.”

Some time must have passed. I felt someone pick me up and put me back down on a bed. I felt myself being slowly pushed. I opened my eyes again.

“We are doing a CT scan to check your brain.”

Some more time passed. I remember someone doing something with my left hand, which hurt like hell. I must have said something since once a disembodied voice said, “Stay calm. I’m just checked your thumb to see if it’s broken.”

More time passed. A police officer woke me up.

“Brad, I’m with the Boulder Police. I just want to ask a few questions. In case you don’t remember this, I’ve put my card in your jacket pocket.” (It turned out the officer was Chris Burke, who was awesome, efficient, and very patient with me. Amy called him later to get more information and he was incredibly helpful, including giving her details on the six 911 calls that people made when they saw me on the side of the road and the fact that he didn’t think I was unconscious at all, or for very long, just completely out of it.)

I don’t remember our conversation at all.

The next thing I realized was that my partners Jason and Seth were in the room. I vaguely remembered sending an email to Amy and my assistant Colleen somewhere between getting to the hospital and being in the room I was in. It was so powerful to see them. I suddenly felt safe again, knowing that people I knew were around. I have no idea what we talked about, but then Amy showed up.

Finally, I was starting to feel a tiny bit lucid. Amy took over and Jason and Seth went back to their lives. I told Jason I had a fireside chat event with Frank Gruber about his new book and could he step in for me (he did, and did great.) Amy called Colleen and told her to cancel my day. The CT scan checked out clear and the hospital released me. Amy and I stopped at Jamba Juice for a giant Peanut Butter and Chocolate Moo. I went home and promptly slept until dinner, which was Noodles Mac and Cheese that Seth picked up for us.

Reflecting on this, it’s amazing to me how little of the first 60 minutes I can remember. According to the police office, I was conscious the entire time. But I have no memory of what actually happened. The last thing I remember, after much prompting, was turning left onto Iris from Broadway. While the 911 calls were all for a hit and run, there’s no real evidence of that since my bike is generally fine and nothing, including me, looks like it was hit by a car. At this point, I’m guessing that I took the turn too wide and must have hit the curb and lost control of the bike. Maybe I squeezed my breaks and went over my handlebars. Or maybe I crossed over into a parallel universe for a little while and when I came back landed on my face.

I’m doing ok today. Nothing is broken and according to the hospital I don’t have a concussion. I’ve very banged up. I’ll probably have two black eyes, I have a sprained thumb, and lots of cuts and bruises everywhere. My face is very swollen and my head is very bumpy and weird from all the swelling. I have a persistent headache, no matter how much Advil I take. My glasses are destroyed so I’m wearing some old ones, which probably isn’t helping.

I slept well last night (although Amy woke me up every few hours to make sure I wasn’t dead) and feel perky right now, but expect I’ll run out of gas later today.

My biking career, short as it was, is officially over. I’ve had two accidents in three years – the first in Slovenia left blood on the streets. It was much more serious in hindsight than this one, but I remember much less about this one. Both were when I was making a sharp left turn so part of the problem may be that I don’t have the right spacial orientation on that side. I don’t have great depth perception, especially at night, so maybe this is part of the problem.

I had a fantasy for a few weeks about taking a bike tour across America next year.  I was even planning to get a sweet Trek Domane 5.9 this weekend just to get the feel for it. But, no more. I now have three nice bikes for sale (two Specialized and one LeMond) in case anyone out there is looking for a bike.

Thanks for all the Facebook notes, tweets, emails, and checkins. I feel really lucky to have so many in the people watching out for me.