Oops!...I Did It Again.

Last ride on the last day of vacation. I was standing and grinding on a punchy little climb. I had been having a nice ride, mentally revising kit design and generally enjoying the cooler temperatures.

The chain came off the chainring.

Where there was once significant resistance, immediately there was none. 

I went over the bars, hitting my left shoulder hard and tearing a furrow through the fresh skin on my forearm. Sharp pain rolled across my upper body, and I dragged myself across the pavement to the grassy side of the road. Realizing my bike was the lane, I grabbed the rear wheel and pulled it to safety. Priorities.

I don't know how long I laid there in the grass. No cars passed. Eventually I did an inventory of body parts and tried to determine what still worked. I was about 12 hilly miles from the car.

I got back on the bike. Without cell service or passing traffic, I had little choice. Blood ran down my left arm as I cradled it. I usually marvel at how smooth the Blue Ridge Parkway is, but I felt every ripple in the pavement on my slow ride back to the car.

It hurt worse when I got off the bike. Retrieving the keys from my jersey's pocket was an exercise in blocking out pain. I gritted my teeth and loaded the bike in my car. I sopped up the blood with fast food napkins and drove back to the farm. My whole focus was getting back to the family and then trying to make the pain go away.

Shocked looks greeted me when I walked through the door. I could barely remove my kit for the shower, where I scrubbed the road rash as best as I could. Much whimpering. I had my wife bandage my arm. I had to lay my shirt on the bed and crawl into it. I downed the maximum amount of Motrin I could, and found a semi-comfortable position on a couch. A couple hours later the pain had settled to a manageable level and some range of motion had returned to my arms. Sudden pain here and there, but nothing I couldn't work through. Don't get me wrong. I'm no Tyler Hamilton. I'm not going to grind my molars down to the roots and ride to a high GC result. I'm more likely to crawl off to bed and whine. 

I'm still not sure if I did something to my collar bone. I'm still assessing. Other than a better grade of drugs, I'm not sure what a doctor could do for me. I'm quite sure the plane ride Monday night will be a joy, with or without good drugs.

What I'm not so sure of is what this will mean for the rest of my season. The Tour of Anchorage is less than two weeks away. Kulis crits every Thursday. Eight weeks in Mississippi for school that could extend the road season a month. I have no idea what will be possible after the chain came off.

A little more than a month after I wrecked in Fairbanks, hammering my left shoulder and removing a lot of skin, I wrecked in Virginia, hammering my left shoulder and removing some of that brand-new skin. Hope this won't be a habit.

I figure the chain came off because the front derailleur wasn't properly aligned. The precision adjustments TSA performed needed to be corrected, and the Locktite on the limit screws probably wore off. The frequency of front derailleur shifting dictated by the terrain caused it to loosen until it moved the chain as it saw fit. Ultimately, like the crash in Fairbanks, my fault. I should have taken care of that. I paid the price for my laziness.
Still, I had a great time this trip. I got a lot of miles in. Lots of time in the saddle doing what I love. I got stronger. All things considered, I got a lot out of it.

Including a story for the blog.


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