30 stitches, glass half-full

60+ bicycle racers at the start- by the time we were ripping towards the final turn of the race, there were still 40+ in it to win it. The pack was boiling back and forth across the road like a scalded snake.

Earlier: Sounds of coffee percolating, was on baby duty last night, I question if I should race this afternoon. Woozy on my feet. Pot ‘O coffee 1 does not do the trick. Pot ‘O coffee #2, and I feel moderately better.

Am in 5th position, feeling solid, clipping along at 32mph, saved lots of energy to spend in this push to the line. The pack surges on every side, suddenly I’m in 25th place. Crap! Cyclists fill the road curb to curb at full power towards the final corner.

Earlier: New race wheels, new pedals, the balance point of my bike just feels a little different during warmup-, or maybe it’s just my lack of sleep headache- maybe I should not race today—

In the final 160 degree turn I am on the extreme inside of the pack, passing people, the rider in front of me crashes, I lean deeper and make it past, on the absolute limit of traction.. The leading riders are out of the turn, going straight and begin to sprint, Still leaning hard, I get out of the saddle and start hitting the big gear to catch them.

Earlier: That little voice starts again: I’m getting old, crits are dangerous, why do I love doing this so much?

My front wheel folds, I flip over the handlebars, and smash headfirst into the pavement at race velocity

Sunglasses shatter and my helmet cracks

Right shoulder digs into the asphalt and my elbow gashes through arm warmers-

Back, hips, and ass slam into the pavement, like a flyswatter.

Numb, spinning, disoriented, full body shock. Sounds of the race wizzing by, sounds of more crashes, yelling. Then silence.

This is not happening. Total sensation too powerful to speak or move. Crushing… I can…. breathe… again… ohhhh…

Others on the ground as well. I see blood on the pavement. Blood on my hands, My face? Where is it coming from?

After a few minutes I sit upright, the EMTs are there. Peeling off my arm warmer already stiff with dirt & blood, copious amounts of skin are stuck to the inside.

So that’s where I am cut. So many friends come riding over to me. Blur of faces.

Are you ok? Do you need a ride home? Wow Andrew, that’s gonna need some stitches!..

One offers that he did this as well last year, did not notice his concussion until his drive home. Chris Needham is about to start his first bike race today. Takes one look at me, asks if I am ok, then they call him to the line.

Strangers I don’t know come up, asking if I am alright. One fellow says “wow, did you clip a pedal? your rear wheel went straight up into the air before you slammed down!!”

Under an hour later, am in the ER, getting soaked & scrubbed.

The crash was my own damm fault. Maybe tiredness, maybe the different balance point of my new wheels, but I got out of the saddle too early, maybe I was thrown off by that crash right in front of me. But it was rider error. Stupid

A few more pedal strokes seated, finishing the turn, I would have been fine–

But really, what is to be learned? Maybe only that I need to be kinder to myself when sleep deprived. I am not young enough to bull through it, not when high speeds are involved.

My wife never said “Why the hell do you do this to yourself”. She understands, and accepts this part of me that is completed by racing. By trying hard, and sometimes failing, sometimes even falling.

She and the awesome ER doc had a great time comparing stitching techniques as I was being sewn up. I felt like a valued knitting project.

I’ve felt almost no pain from this nasty looking gash. A lot of other things hurt more, getting off the table after an hour of lying down, my hips and sternum were screaming at me. I never felt the needle.

There is a line between injuries and owies, and this is a very nasty owie.

If I draw my perspective correctly, it fills my glass half-full, and if I learn a lesson from this, hug my daughter a little tighter and cherish my wife a little more, the glass will be all the way full.

But right now, I need to heal.

22 Responses to “30 stitches, glass half-full”

  1. Wow Andrew, that is some serious hurt! I am glad that you are on the mend. I am sure Jess and RZ are taking good care of you. Hoping you are back to your old self very soon. Looking forward to seeing you and hopefully hanging out again in a few months. T

  2. Good to know you didn’t break anything!! Seeing your arm getting stitched up makes me cringe tho. Eeeuuuuw…needles.
    Heal fast!

  3. Thats intense. I want to do a crit with you this summer, tell me when!

  4. Ooof! I think two things:

    1) Being a crit and all, I’m sure some of the most well-rested, dialed-in, pristinely-positioned, pre-pubescent riders ended up with a mouth full of hay too. So those excuses don’t pass any muster with me, and you always get points just for lining up at the start. Also, you wife sounds like fun to get stitches with! :D

    2) It snowed here today. Like, real snow that’s still on the ground out there. Bike races. Feh.

    Heal well. Post some pictures of the awesome bruises that asses get!

  5. Oh man, That is a nasty one! Hope you are feeling better…

  6. Wow, what a story! Is this the Fiction part of the blog?

    Sorry about the accident, Andrew. Right about now I’d say your’ feeling alot more pain than when you were in the ER. Hope nothing else surfaces, and that you are back in the saddle again soon. After all, it’s only March!

  7. Feel better Andrew. That is a nasty one.

  8. You are one tough cookie Andrew. Chalk it up to the Ides of March. Stay on skates you can ice your injuries really fast. Glad you didn’t break anything.

  9. I just bought a new road bike. But after your story and remembering what happened to Randy Plett last May I need to rethink whether I even attempt a race.

    Get well soon.


  10. Ouch! I thought this was the off-season?!

    Heal fast!

  11. Major ouch! I was out of comission for over a year after a bad crash when I was 30. It took a few more of those and then one after I had kids to make me less of a risk taker. My husband also never said ” what were you thinking??” but left it to me to say uncle. Hope your elbow heals quick!!!

  12. 21 years ago on mothers day I along with 3 other friends were training for a 4 man 50k time trial. Around 40 k into this 70 k training ride we were doing intervals. Steve led out,Scotty just behind, then me followed by Bernie. Steve got us up to 28 mph, Scotty a stronger rider picked up the pace after Steve fell back to the rear. I believe that we were all riding in a 53-15 pedaling somewhat synchronously. I think that we were each taking 50 pedal revolutions then falling back. Scotty got us up to 30 mph, I was starting to fade, legs burning, heart pumping and breathing hard, barely holding on. We worked hard at staying less than 2 inches from wheel to wheel. About halfway through his pull Scotty started to pull away. …had to keep up. In an instant, but what seemed like slow motion, Scotts rear tire rolled off the rim (poorly glued sew up), although I saw it and it seemed like slow motion, I couldn’t react. I think I had time to maneuver around him, but grabbed the brakes and flipped end over Scott. My styrofoam Giro hit first, grabbing the asphalt and tugging at my neck, followed by my shoulder and arm. Moments later looking at distorted shoulder, I somewhat freaked. The EMT’s popped my arm back into my shoulder socket with an audible noise. No stitches but a cracked helmet (thank Ja I was wearing it), a broken collar bone and as we later found out 2 herniated cervical discs.My soon to be fiancée thought my friends were just joking when they called her telling her to pick me up from the hospital.
    I wish you a speedy recovery, heres to fun, friends, going fast, and I almost forgot beer.

  13. Wow. Ouch. I am aching reading this. But wait. “front wheel folds”. I need an explanation. Time was so expansive in your words until that point. FRONT WHEEL FOLDS? Its hard to comprehend! Did the flexing power explode the wheel or did you lose traction getting out of the saddle? Surely in a crash, you saw that moment in slow motion, right? Or were you just suddenly waking up on the ground?

  14. bummed. :(
    wishing you a speedy recovery, glad “everything’s alright.”

  15. […] Andrew Love- 30 stitches, glass half-full […]

  16. I wish you a speedy recovery!

  17. Andrew has a gigantic purple flower on his butt. RZ pointed to it this morning and made a little baby comment.

    He’s still sore, especially in his chest. He probably separated a costo-chondral junction (one of the many cartilege/bone joinings in the chest) so little weird things hurt him a lot. But he will definitely live!

    I get to take the stitches out in three days! Wheee!

  18. it hurts - auw. so girls don’t make andrew laugh….
    take care — get well - breath quietly/smile small.

  19. All the best, Andrew; a quick and complete healing to you!

  20. Equiptment can always be replaced,…and the body will mend.
    Good to see your spirit is strong .
    We need more guys like you around.
    Get better and keep us posted.

  21. Stitches came out yesterday, and the road rash is looking great. Andrew was very brave. His butt is now green fading back to normal - faintly freckled. The chest still hurts a lot, though.

  22. oootssjjjjj….what a story. And that picture….! Hopefully, you’re doing better now, after three weeks recovering.

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