The Pain of Cycling

A lot of people wonder if taking EPO is risky to health. I’d like to reply to that concern with the following list: Elbow Shoulder Collarbone (twice) Back Hip Fingers (multiple) Ribs Wrist Nose Those are the bones I’ve broken during my racing career. This is not an unusual list in our profession. It’s funny: in the States, everybody connects bike racing with health. But when you get to the top level, you see the truth: bike racing is not a healthy sport in any sense of the word. (As my former teammate Jonathan Vaughters likes to say, If you want to feel what it’s like to be a bike racer, strip down to your underwear, drive your car 40 mph, and leap out the window into a pile of jagged metal.) So when it comes to the risks of EPO, they tend to feel pretty small.

From: The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France
Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle

Cycling injuries aren’t just for racers. The more I read about cycling and actually ride, the more I understand a painful fall or crash is a question of when, not if. I may be in the best shape of my life (13% body fat), but there is a price to pay when you’re trying to become a better cyclist.

Case in point:

On the left: my left arm. On the right, my left hip, before the swelling.

Climbing the Palo Alto (Page Mill) hills yesterday morning around from 6-7AM, a slight rain started (California rain in September?!). I was about 1.5 miles away from the top (and getting really cold) when I decided to head back, concerned about the wet traction. On one of the very first corners heading down, my bike slipped out from me and I fell on my left side.

Road rash.

The oddity of my fall is that from my trepidation about high speed downhill cornering in general, I had approached this descent slowly, well aware of the wet ground. I also have carbon wheels, which exhibit poor braking compared to alloy wheels, and are even worse in wet conditions. I have no idea why I fell except for perhaps 1) “first rain”-like conditions created less traction 2) I may have gone over a darker patch of pavement (looks like a small add-on layer), one that wouldn’t give me cause of concern normally but perhaps doesn’t absorb or handle water as well.

Thankfully, I didn’t suffer anything more serious (but…emotional pain of scuffing up my new Ultegra shifters) and was able to finish the descent (slowly) to eventually get home. My hip will likely need close to a month of healing before the bruising goes away.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s