Describing his recent crash that took him out of the Giro d’Italia, Christian Vande Velde said, “… when I crashed I just wanted to crawl up into a ball and go away.” He had been there before. He knew that the times that can be hardest for a cyclist are those when he is not on the bike. In a moment, his season changed — and with that his life.
I’m no Christian Vande Velde, but my broken bones hurt just as much as his do. My responsibilities don’t revolve around the bike and I have no aspirations finishing on the podium in the Tour De France — no one is going to miss me not being on the bike. However, I do have a family to take care of, bills to pay, and a job to do. As I lay there over a week ago looking up at the EMT who was putting my neck in a brace, I just wanted to crawl up into a ball and go away.
Consider this when you take up the bicycle. If you are fortunate, you may go your whole career with only a little road rash for your pain. Some experience the pain multiple times. Others go for years before the tarmac snaps up to bring them down. When it happens know that there is more at stake than your body or the bicycle.
First, there is the bicycle. I don’t think I asked it this time, but I don’t know what I said — and I don’t want to know! However, for the cyclist who has put his own sweat and blood into building up his bike, one of his first concerns after going down is the condition of the bicycle. For me… crushed front wheel, broken top tube, busted front fork, warped chain ring, and maybe some issues with the shifters. The bike is done.
Then there is the body. This one is pretty obvious. When you go down, be blessed to find if all you have is road rash. Probably the most common injury is the broken collar bone. For me it was a broken neck — ok, I say that for effect — a fractured C1 vertebra and fractured skull, fractured left thumb and ring finger, and two broken teeth along with a busted lip.
What you might not consider is time. This kind of goes along with the body. I have used up over a week of my sick time. I have already had the first surgery on my teeth and I have another one coming up on Friday for my thumb. All of this had me out of work for a week and now I’m only allowed to come in half days. Soon the sick days will be gone and I’ll be down to using my vacation days.
There is also the time at home. I can’t do much of anything. Sleep comes in amounts of 2 to 3 hours. I watch the grass getting higher, knowing I can’t do anything about it. The beautiful redhead has to put my socks on for me in the morning among a myriad of other extras that my injuries place on her.
Of course, this all comes to meet you at the wallet. I am SOOOO thankful for the health care provided by my employer. In many cases the hospital expenses are 100%. However, due to the time delays for me seeing certain doctors, I will have to pay 20% for some of the work. The loss of sick days and vacation days is also like losing money. Then there the money in the bike, etc.
These are some of the reasons I am mad at the bike. What makes me hate the bike? It is because my love for riding and desire to be out there competing on one has taken me off of it. Everything that has gone into this wonderful season seems suddenly like vapor. A couple weeks ago I was complaining about having to upgrade to Category 3 and messing up some of my goals for the year.
Now, I just wish I could ride.
I guess in my convoluted mental state I have to say that my love for the bike is what makes me hate it so right now. The thing is, I know I’ll start messing around and have a bike ready to move onto the trainer. It won’t be long before I’ll start spinning. Before the end of the season, I’ll be back out there. Perhaps I will have a different mindset, but I can’t see myself just sitting on the sidelines.
For now, I do feel like curling into a ball and just make all the hard things that have come from this go away. However, as Christian went on to say, “I had my days when I was down but you just pick yourself up and dust yourself down. There’s no reason crying about it.” So, thank you for allowing me to whine. Now, I’ve got some dusting to do.