**THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT**
A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running
– Groucho Marx
Biking comes with a guarantee of ailments and injuries, including but not limited to scrapes, bruises, soreness, chaffing, dehydration, heat exhaustion, blisters, cramps, and numbness, to name just a few. Zipping along with traffic on two wheels powered by your own energy stores requires focus and constant vigilance, which does not always bubble to the surface through the din of your music or the exhaustion after hours of lengthy riding.
All you are ever trying to do is avoid dying.
I’m reminded of Jerry Seinfeld’s description of SCUBA diving. In SCUBA diving, the whole point is to try and not die. “Just don’t die, don’t die, don’t die, don’t die. There’s a fish, there’s a rock–who cares? Don’t die. I don’t want to die. Don’t let me die. Let’s swim and breathe and live because living is good and dying….not as good.”
So while biking comes with all of these maladies, the entire goal is to not get seriously injured. Of course, that has not happened for neither me, nor for my friend, D.
The first serious injury to occur was when D and I were in 7th grade. D went sailing over a guard rail on the way down the aforementioned Hough Hill, but not before the guard rail caught him and sliced open his upper thigh. I was not there and I remember my mom getting a phone call saying D had to go to the hospital and ma asking if I wanted to go see him. All said, despite the lack of feeling in that section of his leg along with a Frankenstein’s monster-esque scar, he didn’t make out all that badly.
My first serious injury wasn’t until 2009 in my college town of Plattsburgh, NY
I remember I was listening to an audiobook, not a care in the world. I was probably in the second best shape of my life, running almost every day and biking a ton for that time period. D and I did not have any ridiculous rides planned yet, but I was getting the itch of biking back and attempting a 30 mile ride was one way of scratching that itch.
Everything was going as planned until I looked down to grab my water bottle and not a second later, I found myself lying on the ground clutching my head in excruciating pain. I had smashed into a trailer–the impact and the steel enough to split open a gash in my forehead, which was now overflowing with warm blood down my face and onto my shirt and the road.
Lucky for me, the house in front of which I had just crashed housed an EMT, who quickly came running out to me. Other passersby stop and I managed to tell one of them to call my girlfriend, Emma, and tell her not to worry and that you’re being taken to the hospital with a head wound.
She was super calm (sarcasm).
I lay in the hospital bed with my soon-to-be-wife looking over me crying. And then suddenly her expression turns to relative glee as she attempts to record the doctor putting in the stitches. Good thing, too, or I wouldn’t have gotten this sweet picture.
The things I remember about the crash are thinking, “I know why you are asking me all these questions” when people would ask me what day it was, what my name was, and so on. I remember sitting and waiting for an X-ray for what seemed like hours to see if I had sustained any neck or back damage from the crash. I remember the doctor getting flustered by my wife’s filming the stitching process. I remember my sister calling and wanting to come the 9 hours out to see me. I remember the next day being completely useless because my neck hurt so much that I couldn’t really move.
The bright side to all of this: Because I couldn’t move, I found out about “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and watched most of the first season in one sitting. Epic show but perhaps not worth the gash in my head.
I would go on that semester in school serving as a TA for Biopsychology and tutoring a girl in the class I nicknamed Dolby, who would later tell me that she told her friends Harry Potter was her TA when she first saw me.
The Boy Who Lived.