I love mountain biking. Repeat, I love mountain biking.
For those who have never been out there in nature riding singletrack, the experience is as close to serenity as I can get. It’s hard work, and I still have to walk
some many uphill sections, but I love it. I am moving, breathing, exercising, and having fun. I especially like Granite Beach. It is a nice area, lots of fellow MTBers out there also having fun, and it has everything from beginning easy trails for us beginners, to some serious technical areas for experts to play on.
There is a downside to MTB.
It’s a part of the game, just like ankle sprains and shin splints in running. It happens. As I am learning to control my bike, getting used to clipless pedals (an art form), and riding non-flat surfaces with my larger mass (which is shrinking – YES!), it just occurs. Most of the time, it is minor slideouts, and minor abrasions. Branches catch you once in a while, also. I’ve gotten used to small bruises and abrasions on my legs from doing what I do. And I get up, check the bike, and keep going.
Yesterday, I was out riding with friends of mine, Matthew and Chris, and a few others, having fun, and came down a nice fast little section of singletrack. Right at the bottom was a mud pit (Past the turnout at Doton’s heading down toward the lake). Not huge, but about the length of a bike. I had to decide right, left, or center in order to get through it. I chose right. MISTAKE! It was deeper than I thought, and my front wheel got sucked into the mud and stopped me cold. Problem was, I kept going, flying over the bars to the right, and smacking my face and hand. I heard my riding buddies say something like, “Wow!” as I flew. All I could mutter was “Crap!”. Sometimes, you can’t help but say something when you are witnessing or experiencing something like this. I lay there for a moment, and it was dead silent. Then I heard, “Uh oh”, from one of them. ‘Guess I’d better move’, I thought to myself. Two of my riding buddies are fellow EMTs (friends and staff of mine).
So, I started to take stock in the damage. Face was ok, just dirty. Neck ok, back ok. Good. Someone pulled my bike off of me, and I started to turn over. That’s when I realized my hand wasn’t happy. It hadn’t hurt until that moment. Gotta love endorphins and adrenalin. “Can you make a fist?”, I was asked. Yup, but it hurt. And when I tried to flex my thumb across my palm, HOLY CRAP IT HURT! OK. I’m not doing that again. Took my glove off, and nothing seemed out of place. No dislocations, or anything looking like an offset fracture. Good. Got helped to my feet, and took stock of the damage elsewhere. Minor abrasions. Eh. Tried to put my glove back on. Not happening.
I could not grip my bars with my left hand, though. And certainly wasn’t going to be able to shift or brake. So, I decided to head back to my Jeep. I have ice packs there, figuring some ice would help. I decided to ride back on the main road at Granite Beach and let the guys ride on and have fun. Park road is usually pretty busy this time of day, especially on a good weather day. I was heading back, riding with one hand one the handlebar, resting my other on it as well. And it was beginning to really hurt. All the time. Raising it up helped. But… I was coming around a curve and hit a patch of leaves on the right side of the road and down I went a second time. This was more of a slideout. Smacked my hand a second time. Yelled a few choice words. My foot came out of one of my shoes, and the shoe stayed on the left pedal. Nothing like understanding how this happens to your patients. Oops. Got my shoe off the pedal and got it back on. Another rider came by, asking if I was ok. “Yeah… I’m ok.”, I replied. “Are you sure?”, he asked me. I kinda laughed at this point, and reassured him I was. I don’t know who he was, but I vaguely recognize him as someone I’ve seen at races before.
Got back on my bike, and road to Old County Road. Turned left, heading back to my Jeep. Got to the cul-de-sac, and jumped back on the trail, again, resting my left hand on the handlebar for stabilization. Made it back to the Jeep, and there were the guys, waiting for me, wondering what took so long. Long enough that they sent two of them to look for me. I had to tell them what happened with the second crash. Told them I thought it needed splinting. It REALLY HURT. So, Chris and Matthew got into the trauma bag I keep in my Jeep, and got out the needed supplies. I was talking to them, and suddenly got REALLY dizzy, and sat down before I fell down. Guess I vagal’d a little from the pain.
They splinted me up, crafting a nice SAM splint for my hand and wrist. Ice pack over that. Seriously did a great job. I wasn’t real confident in my ability to drive at the moment, so Matthew drove my Jeep to the ER, and both of them made sure I checked in at the ER (I said I wanted to go there, guys!). They took wonderful care of me, and I am very thankful.
Several x-rays later, a fair amount of prodding of the main injury, a quick neuro check, and
checking my back and neck, the decision was that it was just soft tissue that I injured. No
splinting, just ace wrap, ice, NSAIDs, and time to heal. This was great news for me! With my paramedic internship right around the corner, and a lot of EMS shifts ahead of me, I did not want to put off my internship due to having a cast on my arm. Of course, the final decision of a fracture will still be made by the radiologist, but I saw the films myself, and nothing was blatantly obvious.
I’m moving it, and typing with it now. Trying to encourage blood flow to clear the swelling and the wonderful, colorful bruising I have. I’m staying off the bike until I can grip the handlebar with my unhappy hand. Spin time, proprioception, and weights for me for the time being.
I will leave you with this picture… yeah, my hand this morning. The bruising is tracking into my wrist just due to gravity (proof I kept it elevated!).