On Thursday evening, March 24th, I was racing in Austin’s weekly crit races at a small motor speedway called the Driveway Series. It’s a proud local tradition and attended by cyclists of all ages and levels of experience. I race as a Category 4. I was in the second lap of my first race of the evening when I went down coming out of a long sweeping corner carrying a good amount of speed and moving up. Though I remember nothing of the actual accident, I understand now that I most likely clipped my inside pedal and instantly crashed to the ground, head and right shoulder first.
It is now almost a week later and though I am not really fine, I have every reason to believe that I will recover fully in the months to come. I had a concussion, broken collarbone, fractured cheekbone, and damage to the vertebrae and tendons in my neck. I left the hospital on Sunday evening and am staying with family for a few days or for as long as it takes for me to better manage on my own.
Though my shoulder surgery went well and should make a full recovery, my neck injury does worry me some. I will be in a neck brace for several months in the hopes that my spinal column heals and realigns properly. If not, I understand more surgery may be required.
I am a bit unsteady at the moment and have difficulty balancing especially when getting up or sitting down. Perhaps this is the concussion, but I am hopeful this will also improve soon. The neuro surgeon told me that this injury to my neck could have been much more serious, using words that shocked me a bit and I never could have imagined being used in the same sentence as me.
The care I received at the race on Thursday was amazing and helped in preventing what could have been a much more serious injury. Thank you to everyone at the Driveway Series for staging such a great event with some of the best professionals around, including our race marshall, Brant Speed. Thank you to Tice Porterfield and the EMT’s at Capitol Medical Service for their quick and cautious action in protecting me, and to the ambulance driver who explained what was happening to me when I woke up.
Thank you to Kelley Davis Ables for not only helping to put on such a great event in Austin, but for coming to the hospital to visit and check in on me. Thank you to my good friend Paul Perrone for coming to the hospital that night to stay with me in the ER. It is not my nature to ask for help, even though I need it, so this all means so very much to me. Thank you to my dear Aunt Minka for all her love and care for me. I am glad that my dad is now also here again. Perhaps we are helping to take care of each other a little. And a great big hug to all of my friends, near and far, and those here in our amazing cycling community that have sent their well wishes and lovely little tokens of care. Thank you so very much!
As for bike racing, I am humbled. I love the sport so much and riding with all my friends. But I am reminded that when it comes to racing, it is not something to take casually. Perhaps this is obvious, but may be easily forgotten at times. I feel I may have made a stupid mistake which caused my accident and could have very easily contributed to the injury of others. I am happy that it didn’t.
Racing bicycles can be a great experience and tremendous fun, but it’s also one that depends on a trust between riders that we will look out for each other. This includes being honest with yourself about your limitations and experience to do so safely. I may have misjudged my mental readiness that day and am now paying the consequences for it. But even so, while I am learning a valuable lesson, I am so very grateful to my bicycle for all the wonderful people it has brought into my life.
Have fun, be safe, and thank you!