Man Down! Man Down!

Man Down! Man Down!

Warning: This post has more obscenities than usual, as well as several lovely photos of some pretty gnarly road rash. Reader discretion is advised!

Yesterday Jason and I begrudgingly drove up to Lake Stevens to ride the 70.3 bike course a few times with our teammates. We have no intention of doing the Lake Stevens 70.3 since it’s too close to Ironman Canada and because I hate the race with the fire of 1,000 suns, but it was our group workout for the week and we needed to get in the mileage. Well, to summarize how the day went, we had the usual redneck obscenities screamed at us and had to cut the ride short one loop after Jason got in a bad bike accident. Needless to say, our feelings about Lake Stevens have continued to dampen.

We showed up remarkably early for the workout (normally we’re [and by “we’re” I mean “I’m”] running a few minutes late to workouts) and waited for our teammates to start rolling in so we could begin riding. The workout varied for our teammates — some were only doing two loops, while others were doing as many as four. Teresa scheduled us three loops, meaning we’d ride about 84 miles total, and then a 45 minute to an hour-long brick run. The temperature was surprisingly chilly — it was supposed to get to mid-70s, but it doesn’t seem to warm up until late afternoon, so we ended up riding in high-50 degrees through a thick, wet fog.

The ride started innocuously enough. My legs felt a bit tight from the week’s workouts, but I was riding pretty strong and steady. I was surprised by how easy the course felt compared to when I rode it in previous years. The frustrating false flats and the challenging climb up Debuque seemed like a piece of cake — a nice testament to how much my riding has improved this year.

As I was finishing the first loop, I started to think to myself, “Hey, this ride’s going pretty well. I haven’t gotten honked or yelled at by some jerkfuck in a truck, so maybe they’re being nicer to cyclists around he–“. The thought hadn’t even completely materialized in my head when some piece of shit in the opposite lane passed me and screamed “Fucking FAAAAAAAAAAAG!” I sighed and trudged on. (Later, my teammates and I swapped “getting heckled by rednecks” stories; Jason said some fat lady on a Harley shouted at him to “Get off the fucking road!” while in the other lane going in the complete opposite direction, Tracy said a car full of teenagers screamed obscenities at him while he was descending a hill, and several other cyclists complained about how cars would buzz by them much too close and honk at them angrily as they passed.

FUCK YOU, LAKE STEVENS. You host a half Ironman, for Christ’s sake — it’s not like we triathletes think, “Hey, you know what piece of shit town I’d like to ride through just to piss off the inbred locals? Lake Stevens!” We’re there to ride the course of the race that takes place in your shitty, stupid town. Stop being surprised and annoyed — every year you host the race, you’ll run into athletes practicing the course. If you don’t like it, tell Ironman to move their race to a different town (which is what I hope to God ends up happening). I’m sure another location would be grateful for the income and extra business the race will bring them since you’re clearly not.

Okay, now that this year’s Lake Stevens rant is (mostly) done, I’ll move on. I finished the first loop in about 1:30 and met up with the fast group of cyclists at a gas station. We chatted for a bit, had a quick bathroom break and refueled, and started on loop #2.

Me and my peeps at a 76 station

I rode behind the fast group for a short while, but they lost me and I ended up riding with Jason’s dad, Bill, and a guy in an Oregon State jersey named Joel. I passed Jim (Jason’s dad) climbing up a hill and chased Bill and Joel.

Before I continue, I have to explain part of the Lake Stevens bike course for those of you who aren’t familiar with it. It’s a two loop course (28 miles per loop) that’s fairly challenging — there are a lot of false flats and a few hefty climbs. Towards the end of the loop there’s a double climb up Debuque at around the 20 mile mark (it’s a long hill, then a brief descent/flat, then another hill that’s short but steep), then a winding descent that takes you over a bridge and to a stop, where you turn right and ride about 4 or 5 miles back to where you started.

The descents on this course are a bit challenging since they’re on a windy road, there’s no shoulder at all, and the drivers are absolute assholes (I rarely rode in aero because I was so paranoid about the drivers and about being safe). To make matters worse, because this town is royally fucked in the head, towards the bottom of the descent I just described, right before you cross the bridge, there’s a goddamn bump that juts out across the width of the road. It’s not quite speed bump big, but it’s probably nearly a foot wide and runs across the entire road. It’s at the end of a long, fast descent, and there is no sign whatsoever warning you that it’s there. The first time I rode the course, I spotted the bump at the last second and slammed on my brakes so I wouldn’t ride too hard over it. It was really scary and jolted me. If you don’t know this bump is here and you don’t see it, or if you ride over it a weird way, it can be extremely dangerous.

Anyway, I was finishing my descent down Debuque when I saw a sea of blue jerseys on the side of the road on the bridge, as well as a white truck pulled over. I immediately knew something was wrong, so I started to slow down. Mark saw me and put his hands up to get my attention. I stopped, saw the look on his face, and knew in the pit of my stomach that something had happened to Jason.

“What’s up?” I asked. He said, “Don’t freak out…Jason took a little tumble, but he’s okay.” I hopped off my bike and handed it to him, then awkwardly ran in my cleats over to where everyone was huddled, nearly rolling an ankle in the process. I could hear Jason talking and chuckling, so I wasn’t too worried since he sounded coherent and in relatively good spirits. He was laying on the shoulder of the road with his helmet still on and his head propped up under a duffel bag. His knees were scraped up pretty bad, and I could see a big scrape on his elbow that had already started to swell up. Remarkably, his face and head seemed fine.

Here’s what happened: The fast group was about five minutes ahead of me. Jason was in the lead when they descended down Debuque, with Mark riding about five feet behind him and a truck was behind them both. When Jason got to the bump, he was probably going about 35 mph. His front tire hit the bump and came off the ground, and he instinctively hit the brakes. When the tire hit the road, it was locked up and launched him over the handlebars. He miraculously thought to tuck his head as he hit the pavement, so instead of stopping his forward momentum with his face, he took the brunt of the fall on his right shoulder, then tumbled again on his left side. Mark had to swerve into the opposite side of the road to avoid the accident. I think he scooped up Jason’s bike and moved it off the road. Jason ended up on the side of the road about 20 feet from where the bump was.

Some people stopped to help. As luck would have it, one of the guys who stopped was a part-time EMT, so he washed off Jason’s scrapes with some water and kept him stable until an ambulance arrived. When the paramedics showed up, they checked Jason out and ruled out any major head injuries (THANK YOU, Rudy Project, for making a product that did its job and protected my boyfriend’s noggin) — although Jason saw stars and was a bit dizzy after the accident, he wasn’t having any head pains or problems. They wrapped up his knees and offered to take him to the hospital, but Jas opted to just have me take him into urgent care, so the ambulance left.

I have to point out that the people who stopped and made sure Jason was okay, as well as the paramedics who tended to him, were far and away the nicest, most compassionate and helpful people we’ve encountered in Lake Stevens. They were so helpful and concerned, and we’re both very grateful for all of their assistance and expertise. Not everyone in Lake Stevens is a piece of shit…just most of them.

Jason’s dad got a ride from one of the drivers who stopped, so we waited for him to come back and give us a ride to our car. Our teammates who were all sweet enough to hang around and make sure Jason was okay finally took off after we assured them that we’d be fine waiting for Jim to get us.

I didn’t take pictures of Jas splayed out on the road with the paramedics attending to him since it didn’t seem appropriate at the time, but here’s one of him wrapped in an emergency blanket checking out his bike while we wait for our ride:

He was marveling at how his handlebars were bent downwards, but other than that, some cosmetic scrapes, and a funky-looking rear tire that will probably need to get replaced, the bike seemed to emerge from the accident relatively unscathed.

While we waited for Jim, a woman who lives near the bridge walked over and asked if we could complain to the county about the bump in the road. I guess it’s been a major hazard for the residents in the area. A couple people have lost trailers when they’ve driven over the bump, and it also gets really dangerous when there’s snow on the road, causing people to swerve and lose control of their vehicles. Apparently the county hasn’t given a shit despite the numerous complaints. I’ll probably call or write a letter expressing my concerns and include a couple of photos of Jason’s injuries, but who knows if they’ll care or even bother to respond.

Eventually Jim came to retrieve us. We got a ride back to my car, and Jason changed out of his scraped up bike clothing and into a t-shirt and shorts. I saw his bare back was all scratched up along with his right shoulder and elbow and both knees. At this point I was wondering if he had more road rash surface area than actual skin. He was starting to move pretty slowly and stiffly by this point, so we packed up all of our gear and I drove him to the hospital.

We got to the ER and checked Jason in. The girl behind the counter was some dumb-ass college student with the worst bedside manner imaginable. When she asked what happened, he said, “I got into a bike accident — went over my handlebars.” She literally responded with, “You should be careful!” (Seriously, WTF? Does she say that to everyone who gets wheeled into the ER? “Oh, you were out for a walk and some drunk driver hit you and drove off? You should be careful, guy who’s in a coma and probably won’t pull through!”) Then she started going off on some bullshit tangent about how some guy came into the ER after he got a new bike, but he was wearing a hoodie while riding and got his sweatshirt strings caught in the bike and crashed. “And he had to have like a TON of surgeries and stuff, which isn’t fun at all!”

Jason just smiled politely while I death stared at her, wondering if I should call her a fucking idiot or just not bother. In the end, I decided it wasn’t worth the headache to explain to her that we’re not rolling around on our fixies wearing hoodies and dicking around, that we’re actually training for a race, wearing appropriate gear, and know what we’re doing but that it was just an unfortunate accident, and blah blah blah what the hell is wrong with you, you shouldn’t talk to an incoming patient like that, what are you fucking stupid, etc. and so on. We ended up saying nothing and just sat down next to the fish tank.

After a while, a triage nurse called him in to check his vitals. While getting his blood pressure, she asked him when was the last time he got a tetanus shot. He said he couldn’t remember, and I said, “Well, you haven’t gotten one since we’ve been dating.” She said, “How long have you been together?” I told her nearly six years (I think the timeline for a tetanus shot is every 7-10), and she said, “Time to propose to the girl” to a bashful and in pain Jason. I laughed and said, “Ask him again after you’ve given him some pain meds.”

"Please stop asking me about marriage, Nosy Triage Nurse, and just give me some fucking Vicodin already."

After about 40 minutes, he got called in again and we were taken to a room where we waited for another eon.

Getting restless

The doctor finally came in and checked Jason out. He also asked Jas when was the last time he got a tetanus shot. When Jason said he couldn’t remember, the doctor smiled and said, “Well I know when you’re getting your next one…todayyy!” I chuckled while Jason looked less than thrilled. He ordered an x-ray for Jason’s shoulder, elbow, and chest — the shoulder because Jas said it was hurting, the elbow since it was all swollen, and the chest to look at Jason’s clavicle. Dr. ER also checked out Jason’s head and determined that it was a-okay. (I later checked out the helmet and saw that it was cracked and scratched on the right side, about where Jason’s temple is. Lucky guy.)

While we waited for Jason to get x-rayed, two nurses came in and gave him 2 Vicodin, 3 ibuprofins, and a tetanus shot. One nurse cut off the bandages the paramedics applied to assess the damage:

Left hand

Left knee/leg

Right knee

Right elbow bruised, swollen, and scraped up

Scraped up hands (with gravel still in them)

The nurse wanted to wait until after Jas got his x-rays before cleaning and dressing his scrapes. Finally someone came to wheel him to the x-ray room:

Getting wheeled away

While I waited, I heard Dr. ER talking to someone about Jason’s accident. I snuck to the doorway to try and eavesdrop but could only hear snippets: “…Uh-RON-go (Jason’s last name is pronounced Uh-rain-go)…over the handlebars…multiple abrasions…fracture.” The “fracture” part worried me. The paramedics initially didn’t think Jason had broken anything, but when we drove to the hospital the pain in Jason’s shoulder was getting worse and worse, so you never know. I was worried that he’d have a break somewhere and wouldn’t be able to do Ironman Canada. It would have crushed him — we’ve both been training hard for the past several months, so to be knocked out this close to race day would have been a major disappointment (just ask my teammate Amanda, who broke her collarbone a couple weeks ago and needed surgery to correct it, which ended her triathlon season and prevented her from being able to race Canada with us this year).

Jason came back from getting x-rays and we waited to hear the prognosis. Dr. ER came in and said that the x-rays looked great, and he invited us to see for ourselves. He said he was convinced that Jason would at least have a fractured collarbone, but he reviewed the x-rays and was “pleasantly surprised” to see no fractures whatsoever. Dr. ER reiterated what we already knew: that Jason was one lucky dude.

He got a prescription for some Vicodin for the pain and a sling for his injured shoulder (while it’s not broken, the doctor said to follow up with a sports medicine specialist to see whether anything was torn), as well as a bunch of gauze, ointments, and bandages for his wounds. The nurse came in and spent nearly an hour cleaning Jason’s scrapes. Every time she’d finish with one, we’d find another one. When he took off his shirt and we saw his back, both the nurse and the doctor went “Ughhhh”:


After much TLC, my bandaged boyfriend was finally ready to go home:

It's like he's wearing volleyball pads

Bandaged shoulder and elbow

Good thing he's left-handed

On our way home, we dropped off Jason’s bike to the bike hospital (aka Speedy Reedy) so they could fix it up for him. Jason’s sorry state elicited much sympathy from the employers and riders who were there. We then sped over to Walgreens to try and fill his pain killer prescription before the pharmacy closed. I waited in the car while Jason ran (hobbled) in. He said when the pharmacist saw the prescription and looked at him, he simply said, “Oh.” The pharmacy was closing in two minutes, but the pharmacist was nice enough to rush the prescription and fill it right quick. Sling + bandages = insta-sympathy.

We got home and I put everything away while Jason puttered around the house. I noticed his water bottles that were sitting on the back of his bike were pretty demolished from the accident:


I played the role of Supportive Girlfriend/Amateur Nurse in a Non-Sexy Way for my battered beau. We ordered Mexican takeout and I picked up some nighttime ibuprofin and some goodies from the store for him, then put clean sheets on the bed so he would feel comfortable and to minimize infection. He took an awkward hooker’s bath in the bathroom since he couldn’t get his wounds wet for 24 hours, and when he stripped down he discovered even more scrapes on his body — two abrasions on his left butt cheek that looked like waffle fries. In a few days I will be dating a Walking, Talking Scab.

We spent the evening watching Toy Story and eating frozen custard, and I felt like a mom cheering up her sick child. Jason was exhausted and sore, but thankful that the accident wasn’t much worse than it was. He had a rough night’s sleep, waking up every two hours feeling stiff and in pain, and this morning he’s feeling pretty shitty and has a hurt neck and shoulder.

Right now he’s taking it day by day, letting his body heal up. Thankfully, we’re starting our Canada taper so he’s not missing many workouts. We’ll see how he feels in about a week or so and whether he’s cleared to race at the end of August. If he doesn’t have any torn ligaments or severe shoulder issues, he should be okay, but you never know. Hopefully he’ll be all right — I’m just super happy he’s (relatively) healthy and got as lucky as he did.

Postscript: Mark pointed out to me that in one of my photos, you can see how far Jason launched himself off his bike. I’ve provided the photo below with some notes to give you an idea of how well Jason would fare in his future career as a man-a-pult.

14 Responses to “ “Man Down! Man Down!”

  1. David Mihm says:

    Awesome photos. Very compassionate of you not to take them at the scene. Did the nurse’s name start with a ‘G’ by any chance? 😉

  2. Rebecca says:

    Not sure, but I think she gave the female patient next to us a tantalizing sponge bath…

  3. Damn. Good luck with the specialist and recovery

  4. Loved this. Emailing it to my son who is a biking fanatic and dreams of doing what you guys do. He’s only 16 and may not read the whole thing but it’s funny and will give him something to think about (not all glory…ppl do fall). Jason’s a big guy. Not surprised he came out of this as well as he did under the circumstances. Hang in there Nurse Rebecca 🙂

    • Rebecca says:

      Hopefully the post won’t deter him from cycling — it was a total freak accident. Jason’s a very cautious cyclist but just had an unlucky day.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about the accident! My fingers are crossed that he is feeling better ASAP, and Canada is a go! I’m sure you are a great nurse!

  6. Greg Finn says:

    Daaamn that is some gnarly road rash. Hope ya shake it of soon Jason!

  7. Lori says:

    I am so glad he wasn’t hurt worse than this. Thank goodness for that helmet!

    This reminds me of a time when I was biking in the mountains of Colorado – near Vail – and hit a bump and went flying over the handlebars, did a complete somersault, and landed on my back in some tall grass.

    My husband, who was riding ahead of me, heard me scream and came back to find me. Luckily I was not hurt (thank goodness for the grass). If it had happened in a different spot, I could have easily flown right into a tree.

    Anyway, at the top of the mountain the trail said “Level of difficulty: Hard” and I hadn’t been on a bike in years (and had never been mountain biking), yet I figured, “How hard can it be?” Very hard, was the answer.

    I had no choice but to get back on the bike and keep riding, but we found a main road instead of muddy trails and it was okay.

    The key with the pain meds is to take the next dose before the last one wears off 🙂

  8. UGH!!! I am thrown back into too many memories of the sound of hitting the pavement. Jason’s “tuck” and roll saved him from compression fracture.

    Jason’s response to go check out his bike is naturally one of the first thoughts of a serious cyclist … “Is my bike OK?” Thankful HE is OK, but what an ordeal – now the healing.

    The hatred toward cyclists blows my mind. I don’t understand the venom that spews toward those of us who are out not polluting the air, getting exercise and sharing the roads for which our tax dollars paid. I won’t be going to Lake Stevens to ride their roads or support their economy!

    Rebecca, get some “Traumeel” by Heel for Jason ASAP. Look it up in case you don’t already have some – homeopathic cream, ointment and pills. It’s a must for a cyclist’s bike bag and medicine cabinet.

    Hope he’s back on the bike soon!

  9. Rebecca says:

    @Lori Man, your crash doesn’t sound like much fun, either. Good thing you had some grass nearby!

    @Dana I’ll look into the Traumeel — thanks for the suggestion!

  10. Jawn Angus says:

    I knew you’d find a way to include “hooker’s bath” in there! lol

    Glad he’s okay, & he’ll be healed-up & ready to go in a month for Canada!!

  11. motherly overtones says:

    At the risk of sounding silly, you DO know that the helmet is now a plant pot and you must go shopping?

    We’re so happy that the UhRonGo family just has a new funny story and not a missed event with a fracture.

    You’ll be better soon. When I had my bike wreck at 25 years old, I was riding European cobblestones in under a month after breaking my ribs. Go win a medal or trophy. Then give it to your homecare nurse.

  12. Rebecca says:

    I’m assuming “motherly overtones” is Bob (and possibly Shari too). Considering you did Ramrod in 8 hours, I think you’re a slightly better cyclist than Jason is — not sure what sort of medal/trophy he’d win and bring home to me. 😛

  13. Ariel says:

    Wow! What a Savage!
    Hope all is healing well. Reading this at work, laughed out loud about the ‘hooker bath’

Leave a Reply to Ariel Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *