What to Do When You're Injured on a Bike Ride

I went for an after-work bike ride, alone, as I often do. I told my wife I was heading into Horse Gulch, the biggest trail network where I live in Durango, Colorado, and planned to ride for an hour or so. I headed out the door, dressed in shorts and short sleeves, carrying a phone, water bottle, tools, and a tube.

I needed a ride to clear my head and to catch up on product testing, but I was run down from a weeklong sinus infection. I erred on the side of caution and chose a fun but mellow trail I knew well, called Wilke's Way.

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I had planned to take it easy, but I soon found myself pushing harder than I meant to, trying to test the gear, trying to find my flow. 

And then it happened. I wasn't going very fast, about 13 miles per hour according to my Garmin. It was just one of those dumb moments: I initiated a turn a little too late and the front tire got into the kitty litter, washed out, and I started to low side.

As I fell, I remember thinking, That was stupid. But I wasn't worried. I've been crashing on mountain bikes for more than 20 years. I've had some really scary wrecks that I expected would cause major injury, but I walked away with only a few scrapes. This was not a scary crash.

I hit the ground and heard the sound of scraping and sliding. I rolled to stand up but something felt very wrong. I looked down at my right shin and I could see my leg was broken, part of the bone sliding around under my skin. You know what it looks like when a cat is playing under the sheets? It looked a bit like that. Just behind me I saw the culprit: a rock about three inches tall and eight inches across with rounded edges, deeply embedded into the dirt, bits of my flesh and flecks of fresh blood dotting its uphill side.

I wrapped my hands around my leg to hold it still. My mind raced through a checklist: tibia is broken, fibula is not; it's not bleeding, not compound, doesn't hurt much; can feel toes, can move toes and ankle and knee; did not hit head; everything else feels okay.

More: How to Prevent the 6 Most Common Cycling Injuries

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Bicycling

Bicycling.com extends the credibility and authority of the world's leading cycling magazine online with web exclusive content and interactive features that help affluent cycling enthusiasts get the most out of every ride.

Bicycling.com extends the credibility and authority of the world's leading cycling magazine online with web exclusive content and interactive features that help affluent cycling enthusiasts get the most out of every ride.

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