I felt radiate like napalm

The last pain I felt radiate like napalm had to be when I last wrecked my bicycle. I remember this because my bicycle's getting the annual spring-tune up now. I'm sure they'll need to do something ... I ride hard. Check this out ... I ended up needing a whole new wheel and some other work one day after a ride in Gahanna.

I was riding on the sidewalk (and waaaay too fast) after having a cop yell at me for riding on the main road there. Cause that's a very narrow road, and it is dangerous, so I did the sidewalk ride. I was heading from Hamilton towards 670/270 there by the park. While crossing a street way too fast, with the light, I soon realized the sidewalk alternatives on the other side of this crosswalk were bad.


How bad?

I had the following options:
  • I could attempt a very sharp 90-degree turn to the right and hit a big stone wall.
  • I could go straight and attempt to stop before hitting a cast-iron fence and probably die as I fly over the handlebars into the river below. Or at least get really really hurt really really bad.
  • I could attempt to go back out in traffic and get hit by a car and probably die.
  • I could hit the 4" high stone barrier around a light pole THAT'S RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK ACCESS RAMP.
Light Pole. Fence in background. Note big concrete barrier.

Light pole on left, stone wall on right.

I chose the light pole. And I hit it. Solid. As with most high-speed impact while on a two-wheeled vehicle, I headed up over the handle bars.

That's where fate was smiling on me, because somehow I caught myself, with one arm, on the light pole. Stopping my forward velocity. Had I chosen the fence in the background, I'd have wound up in the creek. Oddly enough, I never hit the ground.

Sure, there was some impact velocity, and as the bike stopped moving, the back tire went up, I headed up over the handlebars, but upon catching myself, ended right back up on the seat, in a perfect riding position. Right hand in a deathgrip on the brakes, left arm wrapped around the pole.

It happened so quickly and so precisely it looked like I had practiced that move many times.

I shook my head, shocked to still be on the bike, moved around the concrete barrier and the light pole, and continued on to the park, which was just on the other side of the river.

As I was in the park, I realized something was wrong. With both the bicycle, and me.

As for me, I couldn't move the left side of my body above the waist. I thought I either broke my arm or collarbone (again) because I couldn't feel anything. I found out later it was because my head hit the light pole and had a concussion. So I wasn't really feeling anything. Or thinking all that much, either.

My back brakes - from being squeezed, hard, both when I hit the barrier and when the back tire hit the ground as we returned to earth - were wrapped around the rim, along the spoke wall. I eventually managed to pry them off, but the cable was stretched too far, so they weren't working. At all. The right front tire was bent. Usable, but bent.

To sum up: I had no use of my left arm, no thought processes working, my back brakes were non-functional and the front wheel was bent and wobbly. I was 10 miles from home (lived in Reynoldsburg at the time), no cell phone. No cash. And my then-girlfriend (Rebecca, the redhead with the cool glasses, from New Jersey, originally, [yeah, both her and the glasses. Don't argue with me on grammar]) wasn't home. I tried to call collect - from a payphone - no answer.

So after sitting for about 10 minutes, decided to ride home. Slowly. Because of the damage to the bike, if I went fast, it was unsteady. And I had no brakes. So I was using my feet to slow me down. And I had limited use of the left side of my body. And, oddly enough, while most of central Ohio is very, very flat, there are hills on the east side of Columbus, and is just enough of a grade at several points in the road from Gahanna to Reynoldsburg to coast fast enough to start bouncing on the bad front wheel, thereby increasing the pain that was rapidly returning to my arm.

That really sucked.

When I got home, Rebecca was not home, but I saw a note that had the address of the payphone booth in Gahanna I dialed (www.payphoneproject.com allows you to find the address of a lot of payphones, some with photos). So I called her cell phone, told her I was home. She was all freaked out and out searching for me. I told her I was fine, just was calling to tell her they had her favorite flavor at Rita's (BY THE WAY - their sugar-free stuff is TASTY).

When she got home, she asked me where I got the bruise on my forehead from. I said "What bruise?" She showed me the bruise in the mirror. She asked me why I gave her just a one-armed hug, and winced. I told her I wasn't really okay. I kinda wrecked.

She said "Your car looked fine." I forgot to say my bicycle. Then again, I was concussed.

I showed her the bike. She put it all together - big bruise, non-working arm, beat-up bicycle, smart guy not making sense. Luckily, she was girlfriend enough to realize I was in no shape to drive and took me to the ER.

End result: Two broken ribs, bruised collarbone with a hairline fracture. That was the end of my riding for a couple of months. And my last helmet-less ride, too. The bicycle needed a new wheel, new brakes and a new cable.

Concussions are a beautiful thing. NOT.

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