Blood In The Streets

It’s never is ok to have a brain fog slowly lift and realize you are bleeding all over yourself. It’s a calm moment when you are in that state where it takes another five seconds to realize what just happened. No pain, no panic, but no understanding. Just observation. “Something just happened. I’m bleeding. What happened? Where am I?” followed by “Oh shit I just had a nasty bike crash.” A terminator style system check begins to ascertain damage when all hell breaks loose.

In my case it was a very controlled chaos. One of our guides – Marko – was whatever the Czech version of an EMT is. By the time I realized who I was and where I was, he was in my face, telling me not to move,Β stabilizingΒ my head as he directed someone else to untangle the bikes from me. As the fog lifted, I felt ok, could talk, and he realized my jaw wasn’t broken. He commanded me not to move yet as he emptied his emergency kit. He looked in my eyes and made sure they responded. He asked me a few questions which I presume I answered correctly. He made me move my jaw around more. He did a scan of the rest of my body, especially my legs, and then started taping up my still bleeding chin.

By this point the fog had completely cleared and I knew what had happened. I was on vacation for a week in Slovenia celebrating my partner Seth’s 40th birthday. Seth is a huge cyclist so his wife Greeley gave him a wonderful present of a week bike trip with seven of his cycling buddies and his three partners. We were on day four of an outstanding life experience together.

Until this summer I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was in high school other than a few random times on vacations. I’d never done any serious cycling and had completely missed the cycling craze of the last decade. Six months ago Seth helped me buy a bike – I’ve been mixing it in all summer with my marathon training, discovered Strava, learned how to shift gears properly, had started to learn what gear I should be in, experienced several back to back 30 mile training rides, and started to learn about how doping worked since that seems to be the central theme of many cycling conversations right after detailed descriptions of accidents.

The rides in Slovenia were awesome. The first day was 70 km – mostly flat. I took the second day off and then had another great 70 km day – by this point I was in a groove. On day 4 we had a huge 20km 2500 climb and descent, so I decided to run the hill which ended up being just about a half marathon. I started before the cyclists and finished 15 minutes before they did.

The first crash happened about 1 km from where I was waiting. Seth got a flat tire on a steep downhill and bit it immediately. He was ok beyond bruised hip and severe road rash – he shook it off and at this point I rejoined the group and got on my bike. I started off tentatively and was in the back of the pack as everyone else took off.

In hindsight there was no way I should have gotten on the bike. The next 1.5 km was a steep downhill and as I picked up speed to 40 km / hour I thought to myself something like “wheee this is fun” as I caught up with everyone in front of me. I then noticed a bridge coming up that corresponded with a sharp left turn. At this point, I have very little recollection of what happened. I’m sure I started braking but I knew I was going too fast. My partner Ryan was directly in front of me and I was coming up on him fast – I remember him saying, in a very calm, rational voice, “what are you doing?” The next thing I remember was blood dripping from my chin.

Those that observed what happened tell me that Ryan let out a blood curdling scream, I crashed into him as I was trying to make the turn, my bike got tangled up in his, and I went over the handlebars. The visor on my bike helmet was broken, so I clearly landed on my head – probably first since my chin only needed four stitches and my jaw wasn’t broken, although a molar was.

Thankfully Ryan was fine. He broke my fall and ended up with a few scrapes but other than being shaken up by his partner attempting to mate bicycles, he was ok. I had a daydream the next day about the two of us going over the side of the bridge tangled up together which just reinforced how glad I was that I hadn’t caused him to be injured.

Marko and Ron – the leader of our tour were awesome. Marko got me cleaned up and Ron tossed me in the van and took me to a local clinic in the next town (we were several hours away from a major hospital.) The doctor saw me in 30 minutes and stitched up my face in five, charged me 52 euros, and sent us on our way. We went to our hotel where I found out there was a dentist who had an office behind the hotel. Remember – this is a tiny little town in Slovenia (Kobarid). The dentist was amazing – he had better equipment than I’ve ever seen in the US, used a laser scanner to reconstruct my tooth, printed a new tooth on a milling machine in a back room, and within an hour sent me on my way with a new tooth for a mere 250 euros. From now on, I’m doing all my elective dental work in Kobarid.

All of that was on Thursday. I’m back in NY where Amy and I are planted for the next ten days. Other than stitches, a pair of nasty road rash cuts, and bruised ribs, I’m fine. I’ll be back on the bike again – I was having a lot of fun until suddenly I wasn’t, but the memory of that moment will fade with the scars.Β I guess I’ll be growing that beard I’ve been avoiding for a while.

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  • Glad to hear you are alright, Brad.

  • @bfeld can you share the URL/contact info for the bike tour operators? we are also interested in a similar tour in Slovenia.

  • +∞ helmet

  • Brad, glad to hear you are ok and were treated well by our doctors.

    Looking forward to your next, hopefully less painful visit πŸ˜‰

    • Your doctors were amazing. Our US health care system could learn a lot from you.

  • I am reminded of the West Wing pilot πŸ™‚ . Glad ur ok, dude. Take care of yourself.

  • A “whew” moment. Next time cycle in the midwest. It’s flat!

    • That will help, but one can still get to dangerous speeds. We have a ride in this area called the “LOTOJA”- Logan UT to Jackson WY. 207 miles. The only fatality on it this year happened when a rider hit a pothole on a bridge with enough force that it threw him over the guard rail. He landed 35 feet below in about a foot of water.

  • the force was with you though a molar out is no everyday scratch. Brought back memories of motorcycle incident, joined a few pros and approached a curve with enthusiasm @ the same speed (a tad faster!) as they did only to realize (too late) that I’m fucked, wrong place, angle of attack, gear etc. Lucky to survive with most systems ok,

    • I’ve had a few close calls like that on road bikes – one in partic still gives me pause: going into a right-hand turn at 60+mph + hit a large puddle of transmission fluid from an some earlier incident.

      The bike simply slid – while still moving ‘forward’ at a hard angle (I was hanging off on the corner). My right knee hit the pavement + I pushed up, apparently hard enough to right myself. Having crossed my two lanes of traffic + edged over the yellow line, I missed a car + truck – at speed + head-on – by perhaps 6 – 8 inches.

  • My gosh, Brad. I’m glad you’re “OK”, all things considered. Sending good karma your way.

  • Very glad you are ok – it certainly could have been much worse. And words to heed as I’ve recently taken up biking and we’re getting more serious. Not sure I’ll go down any large mountains quite yet πŸ™‚

  • Hoping for a quick recovery, and glad the injuries weren’t too severe. Next time, you should just grow the beard πŸ˜‰

  • so very glad you’re ok. I’ve been biking again and I absolutely bike in fear on descents…and thanks for the dentist tip πŸ™‚

  • wow…glad it wasn’t anything too serious! I’m currently growing out a beard as well…now I can just say I’m doing it in your honor πŸ˜‰

    • Hah! We can compare in a few months.

  • DaveJ

    Brings new meaning to the phrase “taking it on the chin.” Very glad you’re (mostly) ok. You won’t hear me but road biking is a dangerous sport and there is really very little you can do to mitigate the risk. It requires way too much trust that *every single* automobile driver will watch out for you – is that your experience with drivers? This one was your fault and can be corrected; one jackass on a cellphone and it’s all over. Just my two cents.

    • Yup – well aware of it! That’s partly why I prefer running.

  • Dan

    Last year my Dad got in a crash on the Platte River path in South Denver – and had no recollection of how it happened. Best guess is someone came too close and he avoided. It’d be great to have a helmet with front and rear cams and a 15 second looping recorder that stops on impact, to figure out what happens in these crashes.

    BTW, My dentist in Boulder has the same technology, but he charges more like $1500/tooth.

    • I was totally blown away by how fast and inexpensive it was.

  • Glad you’re in one piece… alive… and ready to continue providing us (your followers) with an ongoing flow of wisdom, fun, and overall goodness.

  • glad to hear you are all ok!

    Hopefully soon we’ll all be wearing something like this while on our bikes / motorcycles some day – if you haven’t seen this video I *guarantee* you will love it –

  • First glad you are OK.

    I could not help but see the metaphor for business in this. I feel like every time I get that feeling of “wheee this is fun” there is that bridge and sharp turn ahead that kicks my ass. It is why the better things go the more nervous I get.

  • so glad to hear you were okay – it took me a few lines before realizing that you were talking about yourself. I do a bit of biking myself (usually mountain biking) and have had a few close calls. It does usually happen once you get in a groove and start to feel secure πŸ™‚

    • That’s the truth! If I ever start to feel secure under those conditions, it makes me insecure, lol.

  • CliffElam

    Wow, glad you’re ok.

    However, loved this bit: I started before the cyclists and finished 15 minutes before they did.

    Gears don’t help so much on a steep hill. πŸ™‚


    • I had about a 90 minute head start on them.

  • Glad to hear that you’re ok.

  • Glad you’re okay.

  • Ouch! Glad you’re ok. That is no fun. I hope you’ll get back on the horse and don’t decide to give it up.

    • Yeah – I’ll ride again. It was fun, until it wasn’t.

  • Brad, glad to hear you were able to walk away from the crash.

    Stoked that you had a great dental experience in
    Kobarid: most global dental clinics are uber modern to get your business. If you take up riding again when you are travelling the globe try us out:

    • Nice to know about! Pretty awesome.

  • Oh shit. Thank god you’re ok.

  • Dont underestimate the time it takes to heal both physically and emotionally. But I am really glad that you are back!

    • Yeah – I keep waking up, moving a little, and thinking “shit, that really hurts.” I was also really out of sorts yesterday which I’m sure is just the emotional adjustment to the trauma.

  • Sounds like a great trip. My partners just celebrated our 50th birthdays in Ireland playing golf. Maybe this is next. Do you remember the particulars of your guide company? Thanks!

  • RBC

    Hey Brad – glad to hear you are ok. Not sure if it is the Tour de France, good weather, climate change, or general pleasure, however a lot more people are biking here in London and I’ve heard a few stories of broken wrists, collar bones and shoulders. Great to hear you were wearing your helmet – major head trauma can be for a game changer. That being said I’m out there rain or shine – so hope you bounce back and get back on the road/trails soon.

  • Busting your face open on a vacation is pretty crummy, but getting to see body parts printed on demand is a nice consolation prize. Net-net still sounds like a positive experience. Be safe!

  • StevenHB

    Count me among those happy to hear that you’re okay. Having recently paid for a bunch of dental work, I’m quite impressed at the low fees charged for the dental work you had done.

  • Tomas HK

    Woah, that’s super intense. Glad to hear you’re ok, a little blood’s good now and then. Good luck with you’re recovery!

  • Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out,and loudly proclaiming WOW-WHAT A RIDE! – Glad you experienced one of those memories, glad to hear you are back on the feet and feeling good.

  • Wow. God speed for a stellar recovery. I’m glad to hear that you’re working your way back to 100%- make that 101% counting the new tooth.

  • sorry to hear about your trauma Brad and very glad they could put you back together!

  • Cycling is a tough sport.

    There was a list posted after the the first week at the Tour de France this year and broken collar bones seem to lead the way.

    But it’s an incredible sport. Dopers should be banned for life!!

  • George Jankovic

    Oh mah, so glad to hear that you are OK. Health care in the States is so overpriced and the equipment is subpar in most small offices and clinics. It is, of course, awesome in large hospitals.

  • I’m glad you’ll be ok and sorry you got so banged up. I’m sure I’ll be thinking of this the next time I descend Emigration Canyon here in Salt Lake City. We always think of it as the reward for the climb up, but with the realization that disaster is always waiting in some road imperfection or unobservant driver, as the route is through an area with a lot of houses right on the road and according to my iPhone gps app I often top 30 mph on that ride down. I once passed a Model T Ford that was impeding my progress…. . One of the guys who often leads the weekly trip in that canyon is recovering from a broken hip. He was injured at zero mph after encountering a slight pavement irregularity while pushing the walk button at an intersection in town (our club has a prohibition against running red lights even if there is no traffic). Falling over while clipped in can be hazardous. He was the club’s strongest and fastet rider, and will be again in time.

  • Sue Nagle

    Very glad you are ok and got the cool new tooth!
    So I have to ask – did somebody stop and take a real photo i.e. is that your blood?

    • Yup – that’s my blood.

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