The inevitable fall

“There are too many factors you have to take into account that you have no control over…The most important factor you can keep in your own hands is yourself. I always placed the greatest emphasis on that.” Eddy Merkx

A cracked helmet and torn jersey from Eddie's recent fall.

A cracked helmet and torn jersey from Eddie's recent fall.

One of the realities of being a bike rider is the risk/chance of having a fall off the bike whether we are a commuter, recreational or competitive cyclist, falling off the trusty stead will happen, we can be rest assured.  Cycling is reputed to be a “low impact sport” likened to swimming with this one small point of difference, swimmers don’t fall off.

Falls have no set pattern and can be a single rider event or it can involve other shared road users. There can be a simple graceful topple over sideways on the road at the lights or at home in the driveway or something far more spectacular (which makes a better story to tell when it’s the latter over the coffee shop chatter and banter) we all have stories to share some embarrassing that don’t get aired often and best forgotten .

What we don’t know is how much damage may occur to the body when contact is made with the hard surfaces that riders are generally associated with.  The head, hands, hip, elbow and shoulder are most likely to be given some kind of jolt in a fall hence the advocacy of having an approved helmet fitting properly, and the wearing of gloves to reduce the damage that may occur.

There is hardly an accident where the helmet has not been the sacrificial saving grace of the riders involved and there is no price that can compete with the helmet doing its job properly.  Gloves are a must for cyclists as hands nearly always are involved in the incident and the padded palms of the gloves being torn away must be a comforting thought as to what skin they have saved.

Bike riders can be quite funny when it comes to falling off with an array of responses and quotes, some that would be a sure winner of
funniest home videos.  Depending on what was the cause of the fall may dictate all sorts of amazing responses, from complete embarrassment and shock to rage and anger usually fuelled by the thought such an incident shouldn’t have happened.

The most common response of any bike rider is – “Is the bike OK?” despite having all sorts of bruises and raw places where skin may be erased. The fallen rider will bounce to their feet with adrenalin pumping that would make them a champion if this could be
contained and sustained. After the cursory checks over the bike for scratches and alignment, to then gracefully retire to the road surface succumbing to the realised pain.

The other aspect is how riders can be super protective of their Lycra and the close attachment they have to their favourite cycling top and knicks as they are quite often a matching team kit with some significance and meaning.  Attending the local hospital can be most traumatic when the shiny surgical scissors are produced to treat the sore spots and the Lycra is going to be cut through to gain access.

No fall that has shaken the whole body, mind and soul should be taken lightly in terms of recovery especially when age is added to the
equation. The body can have soft tissue damage usually being the unseen victim that plagues the rider for sometime if not recognised and accounted for properly with treatment and rest time.

Oh what a fickle lot we can be with our little idiosyncrasies and protective nature of our passions and delights in cycling. Wanting to
get back as soon as we can on the road, we will grin and bear the pain not to miss a moment of the joy of sharing the road in community. One of the untold blessings is the support and compassion when it comes to looking after a fallen comrade.

So what has prompted such an article? Through personal experience of late where a momentary lack of concentration crossing a railway line at relatively low speed and not through any other means but my own doing came to grief, causing a multiple break of the scapular requiring orthopaedic surgery to reconstruct.  This will mean a lengthy time off the bike in recovery and rehab. Putting this into the right perspective something like this can happen in any walk of life, an accident at work, rest or play can place you on the injured list cycling is another risk in life we need to manage.

See you on the road upright soon God willing.

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