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2020 Christmas Wishes and Unexpected Incidents

24 hours after an unexpected ending to the year - photo courtesy of Sue Gollagher

I've been a little bit quiet overt the last few weeks so I thought I'd pop my head up and mention why, and to wish you all a Merry Christmas. Just like 2020 not quite finishing off for Australia as it had expected - with yet another outbreak of COVID, things haven't quite worked out as planned for yours truly either. And by that, I mean that I hadn't expected to perform my first "arm in a cast" coaching session this year. Which is also the main reason why most people haven't heard from me in the last few weeks. It's actually a little difficult to type with an arm in a cast...

It's always a good idea to check your helmet after a crash. The outside of my helmet showed no damage but it clearly needs replacing.

But this particular incident is my first official bone break in several years of recent riding and a lifetime of taking things to some sort of limit - and falling off the edge of said limit. So it was somewhat unexpected. But breaking bones is usually unexpected.

To be fair, there is a very good chance that I may have broken or fractured some bones in the past. It's just that I generally don't go to the hospital unless something fairly monumentally spectactular has happened as I don't like hanging out in hospital waiting rooms for very long (one of the advantages of having battled through severe depression is that can develop quite a high pain threshold!).

The reason for deciding to visit the hospital wasn't actually because of my wrist, but mainly because I felt like I landed on my head during this particular incident. Looking at this particular photo says to me that it was the right call. That and if you tell a triage nurse you've banged your head they get you straight in.

So in case you're wondering about exactly what happened, in simple terms, it was a very unexpected accident on a trail that I must have ridden over a thousand times by now without any previous incident - the gap jump on lower Pete's. It's a jump that I've done so many times that I feel like I could probably do it with my eyes closed (I don't recommend that incidentally). And with a nice roll in and a wide landing zone, something going wrong was the last thing I would expect to happen.

But like so many things in mountain biking, the unexpected happened. A tree root at the very base of the ramp that I will admit to never seeing before decided to make itself known. I happened to be accelerating (ie pedaling) at the time just to get a little bit more speed when my pedal struck the tree root and kicked my bike very sideways - which tends to be the case when one side of your bike strikes something at 30km/h. Given that there was still the question of the gap I decided in a split second that it would be better to fall on the ramp on the other side rather than the gap itself so I still launched over the gap.

Just because you've done things successfully many times, things can still go wrong.

I'm told by Philippa who was following me at the time that I was spectacularly sideways as I soared through the air, which she had thought I had done deliberately. Unfortunately, I landed with my wheels pretty much with my back wheel 90 degrees to the direction it should have been facing. And so the bike went down and I immediately went into a roll. But the speed I was travelling towards the ground at may have been someone execessive and I felt my helmet impact the ground fairly solidly.

At the time, it just felt like any other "largish" crash that I've had in the past. It perhaps took me a few more minutes than normal to get up and I had a relatively small amount of scrapes on my arms and legs given the nature of the impact. In fact, the crash seemed so ordinary (at least relative to the sort of thing that I'm often involved in) that the group I was riding with didn't really think anything out of the ordinary had happened.

A perfectly ordinary crash - or at least so we thought.

Anyway, I did what I normally did after the crash - got back on my bike and rode the rest of Pete's and out of the trails. Admittedly, I did this mostly one handed as my left wrist felt a bit tender, again pershaps something that I wouldn't ordinarily recommend. But it was faster than walking and it's not the first time I've had to negotiate a trail with my left arm only partially functional.

After some panadol at the car park, the throbbing in my wrist turned into a somewhat minor dull ache so I took myself off to the hospital, mainly to get my head checked out as it had felt like a fairly solid impact. And for those of you that are unaware, if you happen to present to the Emergency Department after a mountain bike crash and have banged your head, you'll more than likely go straight in. Interestingly, I didn't get the neck brace immediately put on this time...

Unexpected incidents happen to me so frequently that they really shouldn't be unexpected. But I always get up and get back on the bike!

But I digress. Seven x-rays and one head scan later and I was cleared of everything but a broken wrist and a few minor scratches. My attempts to talk hosptial staff out of a cast on the day and the subsequent week where I had it changed to Christmas red were met with some fairly strong objections. So this year I've had to miss out on my riding group's annual Christmas ride. I have actually coached two classes since the incident and happened to be on the bike for one of them though (it's much easier than jogging after everyone to be honest!). The recent rains have curbed my riding activities though.

Anyway, to all of you that happen to read this, have a fantastic Christmas with your loved ones and enjoy seeing the new year in. Thank you one and all for your support and allowing me to help you on your riding journies. I look forward to seeing you out on the trails in 2021!

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