Monday, September 10, 2012

Cycling Injuries: Do They Affect You/Your Cycling?

Just prior to the recent Venus de Miles ride, several individuals I know (both indirectly and directly) were injured while cycling. One had some broken ribs, a punctured lung and a few other minor injuries, another suffered a concussion, and another had a mishap at a signal/stop light and went directly over his handlebars resulting in some fairly monstrous bruises. Each of these riders was wearing a helmet, riding where s/he should be, and/or communicating with signals, but were injured doing something that many of us enjoy regularly without incident.
*Graphic found here
On the day of the Venus ride, there was an injury to one of the participants that was worse than any of those mentioned above. While I've yet to hear or read anywhere the exact details of the accident, I happened to witness first hand the rider on the ground just shortly after the fall.  It didn't look pretty. While I could see that she was indeed breathing, she wasn't moving much. At the time, a fairly substantial crowd was gathering around her and the paramedics were there to assist, so I knew that stopping would do no one any good. Later in the week, however, I was speaking with a friend who works at the local hospital and she has shared with me that there was a lot of damage done, and despite the positive outlook of the injured woman's family and friends, she is truly not doing very well. The extent of her injuries were not detailed to me, but she is currently in critical, though stable condition in the ICU. This woman is an experienced cyclist according to the website set up for updates about her condition.

There are other injuries that take place on a more regular basis for cyclists, such as muscle strains, back injuries, hand pain, and so on, but I personally find that I can avoid many of those with proper bike set up, awareness on the road, and taking breaks on long rides. With a number of more serious injuries to cyclists taking place so close together, I cannot help but reflect on my own riding tendencies and habits though. While I am not willing to live in a state of fear, nor to avoid riding because of possible injury, I have to admit that all of the incidents combined have made me pause and consider what I do on a daily basis. Do you find yourself being a more cautious cyclist when you hear about injuries, do you revise some of your regular routine(s), or do you take on more of an attitude that injuries will happen and just hope for the best when you're on the road?

11 comments:

  1. Both, I try to decrease the chance of accidents. However, I can't control everything and I can't control other people. I can't be perfect at every moment, either. Crashes happen. I also don't believe that injuries such as muscle strains, back injuries, hand pain etc are always avoidable either. Everyday, we become more and more decrepit. Ours bodies change. Death and aging are not optional. Injuries happen. My hope is to be very very lucky. I was in an accident 2 weeks ago. I was unlucky to have gotten cut off by the car, but lucky to have been relatively unhurt.

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    1. I am glad you were fortunate to survive the incident relatively unscathed!

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  2. Accidents and injuries happen. You ride defensively, and you keep your head about you. Aging does affect your cycling, but not as much as people think. I'm in my late 60s and know many cyclist far older than me. Aging affects speed first. That begins in your 30s and 40s. Endurance last much, much longer. It doesn't begin to lag until your mid 70s. So just keep on making those pedals go round...

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    1. Indeed. I suppose I ride like I drive - defensively - as you point out, Marsha. I assume that there is always going to be someone doing something they shouldn't be doing, and hope that my reaction times are quick enough to maneuver around anything necessary.

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    2. Is there anything else you can do? Not really. Being safe is an illusion. Most activities have their dangers. But being realistic, where do most accidents happen? (At home.) You do what you can. That's how you live your life fully. Same thing with injuries. If you get hurt, tend your wounds, let the airplane glue fully set, then get out there and enjoy your life.

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  3. I've got the attitude that injuries will happen, and the majority of my injuries are self-inflicted. I've been hit by another cyclist -- resulting in a concussion for me and broken bones for him -- but I've also flipped over the handlebars a couple of times because of my own stupidity, and I'm still riding.

    Lacking any sort of natural grace, I realize I'm going to get hurt no matter what I do. I've turned my ankle while walking both in flats and heels. I smack into doorways. I bang my shins on furniture. Granted, none of those have put me in the ER, but tripping over a tent stake and slipping on ice have.

    Crashes are going to happen. With a little bit of luck and grace, we'll heal to ride another day.

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    1. I sometimes wonder if we're long lost sisters, Melanie! :O) I find myself fairly frequently tripping over air. As much as I'd love to take up skating, I fear that until I can get walking under control, eight wheels could be very, very bad for me! As for cycling, I agree - I think they will happen, and we just do our best to avoid them when possible.

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    2. Do you ever fall ~up~ stairs? That's the one that drives me nuts.

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    3. Unfortunately, yes. I always think, "Did I not pick my leg up enough?" I don't know about myself some days.

      I also drop things randomly. I haven't decided if this is due to my hands being weak/injured or if it goes along with the whole klutz issue. The other day, I was walking into the kitchen, Sam said something to me, I turned slightly and before I knew it my entire glass (broken now, of course), ice and water, was rolling across the floor. I just thought, "What happened?" It was all so quick, and I have no idea what I even did to create the little incident. {sigh}

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    4. YES! My mom made me stop loading the fridge at her house because I kept dropping groceries onto the concrete floor. Bowl of cheese dip: SPLAT. Carton of eggs: CRUNCH. Jug of OJ: SPLOOSH.

      WTH, hands?

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    5. Yup, definitely can identify. :O)

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