by Oliver Evans
I’ve mentioned crashing in a few articles by now. However, I haven’t touched upon dealing with the aftermath of a crash.
In the past four weeks, I’ve crashed twice. My first crash happened on the first lap of the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic. We were riding at 70 km/h when I hit a bump and both my hands shot straight off the bars and down toward the road. My chest landed on my bars and there was no way to recover. The road was very wet, so I slid on the wet pavement for a long time; long enough to think about and question when, if ever, I would stop sliding.
As soon as I stopped moving, I assessed the damage to my body. I was starting to bleed from my knee, shoulder, hip and elbow. Nothing seemed broken. I always check my collarbone first. As soon as I determined I was able to move, I slowly and shakily stood up to get out of the road and out of the way of racers and cars.
As I stood up, another racer slid into me from behind and I flew back onto the ground. Again, I reassessed. At this point, when it seemed as though nothing was broken, I was quite surprised. It was a hard hit.
I limped to the boulevard and took off my helmet to check for scratches or cracks (to determine if I’d hit my head or not). Earlier, I said that I check my collarbone first. Instinctively, I want to check my head right away, but I must wait until I’m off the road and no longer at risk of being hit by other racers or cars. I keep my helmet on just in case the crash isn’t over.
The worst part of road rash is cleaning it. I always get medics to do it. They do a better job, and it’s easier for them to inflict pain on me than for me to inflict more pain on myself. Also, I get kind of woozy when I have to pick dirt out of my own flesh.
If there’s ever anything you’re unsure of, such as whether or not you need stitches or an x-ray, go find out from a medical professional. In this particular crash, I had gone down pretty hard and fast, and was then hit pretty hard again. My shoulder and neck were becoming more and more sore, as was my exposed kneecap, and I had some pretty deep cuts on my arm and hip. With some encouragement from my teammate, Conor, I went to the hospital.
Just over two weeks later I went for my first spin on a borrowed hybrid bike. It was about five kilometres to a coffee shop. On my way back, I hit a patch of gravel on a turn as I rode down a hill, and went over the bars. I now have a concussion. My knee reopened as well and got infected over the next couple of days. I should have waited to get back on the bike.
Here are a few of my basic takeaways and tips if you find yourself in a crash:
1. Assess the damage to your body and head. Don’t push yourself to get back on the bike.
2. If you can ride, check the bike for damage first. Don’t get on a broken bike.
3. Have someone take a photo of you freshly injured and post it on Instagram.
4. If you are unsure of anything, seek medical assistance or opinion.
5. Clean everything. Better yet, have a pro clean everything for you.
6. Do not rush your recovery.
7. Have your bike properly checked over (a second opinion).
Oliver Evans is a 19-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, who is currently based in Victoria. He races on the road with H&R Block Pro Cycling.