Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tim Dodge: "My Shortest 400k"

That was me in Lafayette with the flashing lights the morning of the 400k on June 5. Only I wasn't getting a ticket...

25 minutes into the 400k, third position cruising through Lafayette, and I hit a seam in the road without warning. My front wheel felt like it was grabbed from under me, twisting so hard that both hands were yanked off the bars, and I went over the top faster than I thought possible. Just long enough to think, "WTF was that?"

At first I was so shaken up I wasn't sure about injuries. No major blood and the road rash seemed manageable. Then I felt some clicking in my collarbone. Turns out my left shoulder took most of the impact and that click I felt was a broken clavicle. (I smacked my head, too, but there was remarkably little to show on my helmet and I don't seem to be worse for wear.)

An unmarked SUV showed up almost immediately -- which I didn't realize was a police vehicle because the rear flashing lights were outside my field of vision. Still, it sure was nice of them to pick my glasses off the street. At this point I had collected my water bottles, both ejected by the crash, and I was back astride my bike. If you were 20 feet away nothing looked too amiss. I understand how the scene could have looked like a traffic infraction instead of an accident.

Next I saw one, then two, then three police on mountain bikes. What was going on? Before I knew it here came the paramedics and then the fire truck. I couldn't believe all the activity. It turns out the police were out in force to catch a graffiti vandal.

To add to the hoopla, I had to deny care from the paramedics because I wanted to drive myself back down to Denver where a friend of mine was on call in the ER at Porter Hospital. I didn't mention this to the guys on the scene because I figured they wouldn't think it was a very good idea. Besides, it was 4:30 in the morning and I didn't want to call and wake up my wife.

One of the officers was kind enough to drive me and my bike back to the start in his pick-up. He commented that he was not very happy to see cyclists riding 3 abreast through town. I wondered to myself how often anyone is even on the streets of Lafayette at 4:30am. But I didn't say that. Instead I told him club policy is to follow traffic laws and riders who don't are disqualified from the event. This seemed to calm him a little, but he added that bike paths are safer. I decided to keep my mouth shut.

I'm still not sure how I wrestled my bike into the car and pulled my jersey off -- motivation to not cut it off, I suppose. After I got home I noticed the left shoulder was shredded from impact, so my efforts to save the jersey were moot. I haven't had the courage to unload and check my bike yet.

I've heard from a couple of people who felt bad about riding past. My view is that we were 25 minutes into the ride and there was nothing anyone could do for me. Stopping would have made no sense, especially with all the help on the scene. Let's face it, following someone's wheel in the dark has inherent risks. I accepted those risks. Instead, I can truly say that things could have been worse. For starters, I had no head injury and I didn't have to ride back to the start.

After talking with two doctor friends I've been told I'll heal faster if I get the clavicle surgically repaired. I'll know more after I visit with the orthopedic surgeon in the next couple of days, but there's nothing that can be done right away. Apparently I also fractured a rib, but that will take care of itself. At this point I'm just wondering how the pros get back on their bike in 4-6 weeks. The trainer will help, and maybe some PT and ultrasound magic?

So it goes. In the near term I'll be riding vicariously with all of you. Ride reports appreciated!

- Dodger


  1. Tim, sorry to hear about your short 400k and your broken collar bone and rib. I wonder if the seams between lanes are getting more dangerous. I had a similar experience in March on a newer road with a seam that appeared to be filled with asphalt sealant. My rear wheel dropped into it. Somehow just as I was about to slide into the next lane of traffic my front wheel jerked around and my bike popped up out of the slide. Then, yesterday at the end of the Elephant Rock ride, there was a bike-tire size crack between lanes and many volunteers were positioned beside the road cautioning riders about it. That made me wonder if it had caused a crash earlier in the day.

  2. Tim, I'm bummed to hear about your injury. You were on my wheel when you crashed--when I went back I would have guessed you were going to resume riding. There must have been a very narrow groove. Tom pointed it out but I was right on his wheel so I went right over it (or so I thought). I must have just missed the groove.

    That is such a bummer--and only in small part because Tom said you would have been pulling us the rest of the day! I hope your recovery goes quickly!

  3. Hi Tim,
    I, too, am sorry to hear of your short 400K. Baseline Rd. thru Lafayette is in pretty bad shape, I was reminded of it yesterday when I rode the Lefthand Lark permanent.

    Misery loves company, so I thought I'd tell you about my crash on the 600K on May 22. I was at mile 213 on the first 400K, when I hit some gravel at 8:30pm just outside of Platteville, on the home stretch. I became lucent in the ER, with a concussion, about 2 hrs later. I hit the ground on my left side, like you. Bruised ribs (they really hurt, so I can imagine the cracked ones are real zingers), bruised left hip (had a resurfacing last year) knot on my head and minor thumb laceration. They kept me 2 nights for observation. The blackeye is almost resolved and the headache is gone.

    It's such a bummer to be injured and have to sit by the sidelines, and, as several people mentioned to me, "it could have been a lot worse", which is absolutely true.

    I hope you can have your collarbone repaired for the quickest healing. Vicodin can be your friend.

    Hope to see you on the road before too long.


  4. Thanks, everyone, for kind words both on- and off-line. I'm scheduled for shoulder repair (surgery) on Friday. Time for recovery is still a little up in the air but I'm optimistic.

    Hope to see you all soon!

  5. Surgery was a week ago. All went well. Plate and 10 screws (which will all come out at some point).

    Thanks, again, for all the many kind notes and good wishes. I hope to see you all soon!

    Good luck with the 600k today!