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.
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.