My extended trip to make it to Bellingham yesterday was only due, in part, to being soaked through. I went down yesterday around mile 30 just east of the intersection of 64 Avenue and 148 Street in Surrey, BC (street view is HERE). My apologies as there is a lot to unpack from the past two days.
I was traveling east on 64 Avenue and had just started rolling after stopping for the red at 148 Street. I mentioned it was wet yesterday and it certainly was. As I went to cross a set of railroad tracks my front wheel caught a rail sending Shadow right while I continued forward going down. I took hits all down the left; left knee, left forearm, head, and left shoulder. Thankfully I never lost consciousness and the head hit wasn’t that bad.
As I lay there, I rolled and covered my head waiting to be hit thinking I’d rolled into traffic. After a bit I rolled over to face the incoming traffic and saw a big rig up the road maybe 30-50 feet. Looking back I don’t know how far into the travel lane I was, if at all, but all I know is he was stopped. I don’t know if he was still slow rolling from the light just going green, stopped for the railroad crossing, or somehow managed to woah up when he saw me go down.
I got up slowly and did a quick inspection of Shadow and he seemed none the worse for wear. No visible damage and appeared to roll ok as I moved over to the right as far as possible. Getting myself situated I looked back to the driver, made eye contact, and blew him kisses with both hands like a beauty pageant contestant winner. He slow rolled by, rolled down the window, and asked if I was ok. I assured him I was and thanked him profusely for stopping while choking back tears.
In a safer spot I did a more thorough inspection of Shadow. Thankfully going down on the left meant none of the fragile drivetrain components took a hit and the rear pannier hanging out helped take some of the hit as well. I found the left shifter all scratched up and left side bar tape pretty much trashed once at the hotel, but seeing nothing at the time I mounted up and did my best to roll on.
I want to add I went back and checked out the street view of the area and somehow I completely missed signage indicating this this track crossing was dangerous for cyclists (images attached). It’s may be hard to see, but I can make out three different signs and one of which for sure shows a cyclist going over the bars (top sign). I don’t know how or why I missed it, but unfortunately I did. In hindsight I should have either stopped and walked or at least tried to square up more with the tracks. I’ll chalk this up to my relative inexperience on a road bike, but, for now, let’s add this one to the “Lessons Learned” pile.
Before the fall, I’d planned on giving the day’s ride the alternative title of “Embrace the suck” solely because of the rain, but despite the rain I wasn’t cold. That changed once I rolled into the border crossing. I was able to get in and out of the border without much fuss. It seems there isn’t much demand for walk-in entry into the US on a rainy Sunday afternoon so I was in and out pretty quick. Rolling again I suddenly got very cold. Like shivering, jaw jack hammering, type cold. Basically the short break cooled me down enough to bring on shivers. Thankfully I warmed back up nicely after a few minutes of grinding. Also owe a lot to the wool base layer and socks which helped tremendously.
Unfortunately, knowing that stopping would make me cold I grew resistant to stop anywhere for food. Additionally, I felt guilty about going into a restaurant being a soaked dripping mess. This meant that by the time I got to Bellingham I hadn’t eaten since breakfast in Vancouver. Thankfully I’d been focusing on remaining at or below zone 3 and it really paid off because, although I was tired, I never really bonked.
As the ride wore on and the adrenaline wore off I started to notice my shoulder aching and an upset stomach. From prior crashes I really felt like some shock was kicking in and, as the ride went on, I started thinking what I was going to do for the night. It was when I saw signs for Birch Bay State Park, my destination for the day, that I knew I had to finally make a decision.
I passed through the town of Birch Bay and looked for a place to eat and not finding one I went out to the park. Once there, with rain still coming down, drenched, and hungry I doubled back to Birch Bay in hopes of finding a place to stay. Unfortunately there was nothing in the way of a hotel. I pulled up the phone and mapped out the distance to Bellingham. Google said maybe two hours by bike so it was then that I decided to press on to Bellingham for a hotel for the night. Thankfully I was able to load up the day two route on my Garmin to get me there.
After checking into the hotel I peeled off my soaked gear only to discover a fist sized bit of road rash on left hip, couple dime sized bits on my left knee, a couple scrapes along my forearm, and a quarter size bit on my shoulder.
Now in dry street clothes, I walked the half block to Wendy’s for dinner and to call the wife to let her know what was going on. Nothing better than starting a conversation with, “I want to start by saying I’m ok.”. It was very difficult to explain everything as I was pretty emotional, but I eventually got everything out.
Today (5/16) I started with a walk to the local urgent care. I’d researched providers the night before and the closest was a 30-minute walk. The alternative was a $60 Uber 12 miles away. I arrived right as they opened. A while back I weny over my handlebars, broke my arm, finished a ride, and put the mountain bike back on the roof of my car and only after all that did I think, “Hey this arm still doesn’t feel right I’m going to go get it checked out.” (NOTE: That was another great conversation with the wife that started with “I want to start by saying I’m ok.”). With so much ahead of me I wanted to be certain I didn’t have anything broken.
After an examination the doctor felt I most likely didn’t break anything but may have an “AC joint separation”. I received an order for some x-rays from a local imaging clinic, thankfully two blocks away, and he would call me later with the results.
With this news, and after the x-ray, I walked back to the hotel after making a stop at the local grocery for supplies. At this point I’m feeling great and confident that I’ll be back at it and continuing on. Picked up oatmeal, pecans, cranberries, Clif bars, and a bottle of Advil for the trip. Love oatmeal in the morning from camp!
After dropping my goodies at the hotel, and downing 800 mg of Ibuprofen, I walked a few blocks to the local REI. I had already planned on stoping here on day two to pick up fuel for my camp stove. The fuel cartridges are a no-fly item so I couldn’t bring any with me. While I was there also picked up a new helmet and new leg warmers to replace the damaged ones and a new set of lights. The headlight would replace my aging one that hadn’t lasted the full day while the other would go on the rear of the helmet. When I was done I was telling the wife the shoulder was feeling awesome! I was pumped.
Back at the hotel I relaxed and started putting stuff back together to ride out. Was chatting back and forth with the wife when the doctor called. The news was that there certainly wasn’t a fracture, but he was confident I have up to a grade two AC joint separation. He knew what I was doing and my goals. He said normally he would be referring me to an Orthopedic and, most likely, they’d want an MRI. With that not being an option he suggested, and I looked up and confirmed, 1-2 weeks in a sling and 4-6 weeks off the bike. He also admitted this wasn’t his area of expertise and that the possible range of the injury it could be possible for me to continue if I felt I could. Ultimately it was my decision.
With that news I called the wife and we had a nice long talk. We’re both going back and forth on what I should do. Before making a decision I’d go out for a quick spin around the block with Shadow unloaded to see how I felt. Which is this ride here.
Once I got back I was still torn on what to do, so I made some calls. I called another cyclist (thanks Caleb!) to bounce it off him and we had a great conversation going back and forth justifying both options. It was really helpful. Called my boss to ask about the possibility of taking an extended vacation like this in the future. After all this, I finally called the wife back and let her know the plan.
Trust me when I say that this decision has not come lightly and is one I wish I didn’t have to make, but it’s with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes that I’ve decided I’m done, I’m coming home, and have made arrangements to, hopefully, be back in Vegas by Thursday.
I want to thank each and every one of you for your kind words of encouragement and support on this journey. I couldn’t have made it even this far without all of you! Rest assured I will back to attempt this again.
Light rain-Light rain, 54°F-54°F, Feels like 59°F-59°F, Humidity 77%-77%, Wind S 8mph-S 8mph – by Klimat.app
— myWindsock Report —
Weather Impact: 2.8%
Headwind: 51% @ 7.6-12.3mph
Longest Headwind: 13m 57s
Air Speed: 12.1mph
Precip: 29% @ 0.19 Inch/hr
— END —
Max elevation: 337 ft
Min elevation: 68 ft
Total climbing: 472 ft
Total descent: -430 ft
Average speed: 11.85 mi/h
Average cadence: 78 RPM
Average heart rate: 120 BPM
Average temperature: 59.36 °F
Total time: 00:31:23