Friday, August 10, 2012

Super Lights and No Lights = Near Death

There are seven cervical vertebrae in the neck that support your head and connect it to the shoulders and body. A fracture (break or crack) in one of the cervical vertebrae is called a cervical fracture or sometimes, a broken neck.
Causes of Cervical Fractures
Cervical fractures are most often caused by a forceful impact, or traumatic blow to the head. Athletes involved in impact sports, or participating in sports that have a risk of falling of 'snapping' the neck (skiing, diving, football, cycling) all are linked to neck fractures

Immediate First Aid for Neck Injuries
Any injury to the head or neck should be evaluated for a neck fracture. A cervical fracture is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Spine-related trauma may injury the spinal cord and could result in paralysis, so keeping the neck still is critical.
If there is any chance of a cervical fracture, the patient's neck should be immobilized (not moved) until medical attention arrives and X-rays can be taken. It's best to assume there is a neck injury in anyone who has an impact,fall or collision-type of injury. Symptoms of a cervical fracture include severe neck and head pain, pain that radiates to the shoulders or arms, or bruising and swelling at the back of the neck.

I should be really happy now but I am not.  The cursed heatwave finally broke.  Got my choice position for UAR on Sunday.  Purchased two tickets to see New Order in October, downloaded 2 bootlegs yesterday, two more downloading now, listening to one for the first time right now, The Galaxy, Auckland, New Zealand 1987 (Bernard actually used the words "pubic hair" during the first tune!).  Airline tickets are cheap.  Mother is about ready to go back to her home and the lawn just got mowed by my son.  Friday after work.  Amen!  Hallelujah!!!  But I am in a mood somewhere between tears and anger.  Successfully refrained myself from placing the F word in the title.

Joe wearing a hemet that he will replace when is cleared for riding.

12:52 pm today, a mere 40 minutes from locking the doors and calling it a "week" I got a text from Donnie Hildreth.  "You hear about Joe's head on collision Tuesday night GWT?"

Shit.  Not again.  Another friend hurt bad.  "Nope, do tell."  Donnie called instead of texting.  It's always bad when texting will not cut it.  I got the scoop with a voice. 

Joe and I have ridden together for years.  Joe is perhaps the fastest and strongest rider I know that does not race.  He should race.  He'd kick the crap out of all but the elite.

After getting the details from Donnie I texted Joe.  Told him to heal up.  He thanked me immediately.  That's a good sign.  I finished up work and then texted again.  "Can you talk?"  The phone rang immediately.

Joe's voice was a little softer and a bit harsher than normal.  Could not tell if that was the meds or the pain making the vocal modifications.  But it sounded like Joe.

"Heading south on the Great Western Trail Tuesday night.  It was very dark and past 930 pm.  Three bikes with super lights were headed my direction so I moved close to the right edge of the trail and looked down so I would not be blinded.  He had to be over all the way on the left behind the super lights bikes.  Wrong side of the trail.  The right side of my face was hit.  I really do not remember anything."

Super lights need to be toned down a bit when there are other riders in the opposite direction.  It is to the point that it is not unlike driving a car and fookers drive with their brights on all the time.  If there is no adjustment settings perhaps block the light with a hand.  I have very bright lights and I always dim them when encountering others.  Cheap flashers get the job done too.  They let people know that you are there.  Use uber lights when there are no eyeballs to burn out.

"Kevin Pearson was behind me a ways and overheard the super lights say that there was a bad collision and then he saw me laying down on the trail.  Two riders with lights  stopped to help.  Fortunately, one was a nurse and saw that my neck was messed up.  They got me in a truck and to the hospital."

"As for the guy that collided with me, his bike was really messed up.  They said his fork was bent all the way back to the frame.  Wheel was tacoed and tire blown.  He must have been really hurt because people said that he was standing around as dazed as me.  But then he was gone.  I hope he is alright.  I have a severe concussion.  He must have had one too."

Donnie said the guy walked off into the darkness with his bike.  But everyone focused on Joe's needs.  So damn close to turning into Superman, Christopher Reeves, it is not funny.

"Makes me rethink about riding on the GWT at night.  Many bikes without lights.  We all sometime or another have too much to drink.  We've been there.  I am not mad at him.  I don't want to have him punished.  I just want to make sure he is ok."

Then Joe revealed that he is a REAL BIKER.  "I looked at my bike yesterday.  It's not in too bad of shape.  Front wheel needs truing.  Brakehoods need to be realigned.  He got the worst of it."

But the question in my mind was whether he would ride again.  Joe answered that without being asked.  We discussed next year and what rides we should do.  Wisconsin has one that is limited to 300 riders.  5 days 400+ miles.  Good overnights.  Ragbrai proper is out he said.

"The most enjoyable part of Ragbrai was riding to the start.  Too many people.  Too many idiots.  Too many people without enough experience.  Bikers ditch to ditch.  People pulling up right next to you stealing your space.  Not willing to pass and move on.  No wonder there are so many accidents.  Every morning I'd wake up in my tent to the sound of ambulances screaming.  And the sirens would scream all day long non-stop."

So I asked the important questions.  "Did you have lights?"  Yes he did.  "How is your helmet?"  He plans to replace it before riding again.  Helmets are good for one bad crash.  Replace them if this happens to you.

"But I am really lucky.  It could have been much worse.  The doctor told me yesterday that surgery is not necessary.  The fracture will heal on its own.  I was lucky that people stopped to help me.  I was lucky that a nurse was there when it happened."

Tomorrow Joe will walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding.  The doctor said he could take his neck brace off for this.  She rides bikes as well as her soon to be husband who happens to race for Scheels.  I think they'd understand if Joe takes it easy tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Small world. Joe and Donnie are good family friends- real close with my uncle.

    Bummer about the wreck.