Monday, July 18, 2011

The Silver Rush 50 bike and brain trauma

This is how the day went...

 At the start I felt sick good. On the 100 meter run up the ski slope I ran only hard enough to get clear of the mob and seed myself well once we got on the bikes. For the first ~2 miles I sat back in 6th watching and waiting for someone to start riding. At Mile 2 I finally went and settled in to a quite relaxed, cruising rhythm and when I looked back after a mile I was completely alone. No one in sight. I kept it chilled and at mile 10 I could catch glimpses of a lone rider maybe 2 minutes back. At mile 12 he was clearly making ground and would catch. The guy was pro rider Alex Hagman of the Jelly Belly team. He caught me at mile 16 and I jumped on his wheel hoping he could steer me through the descents. He was sick fast and technically worlds ahead of me but I made the decision to take my fingers off the brakes and just go with him... very shortly after on a tight downhill switchback I rode up on a dirt berm with a washout at the base and my front tire slid down and came completely out from under me. I saw the ground coming at me followed by a loud gong in my head. I jumped up and collected my bike and bombed down continuing on.

 Alex didn't get away. I was still within a minute after the next climb and my legs still felt amazing. Very controlled with zero fatigue or stress to speak of... at this point my memory starts to have gaps. Just short flashes of the course... of seeing the leader up ahead. A hill. Some snow... then nothing. A blank screen on my memory. From mile 18 to mile 23 is gone and I was blacked out. All I know is that I crashed again because the road rash from my first crash was only on my right leg but now I have road rash on my entire left leg and arm too.

 This is all I remember after mile 18.
 Rolling up to my wife at the halfway point. Blood blocking my vision in my right eye... Ken Chlouber taking my timing chip and me arguing that I'm still in it... a guy with a moustache in the EMS vehical... looking up and seeing the halo of a CT scan machine as I slowing slid inside... arguing with an ER nurse that I needed to go and get my bike. From that point on things start to come back. I remember getting my bike and riding back to my car. Getting to the camp and starting to get ready for the run the next day (I would make a few phone calls to doctor/athlete friends who talked me off that cliff). The rest of the evening is spotty at best but I do remember Patrick Garcia coming out to camp with us which really helped me a ton personally to lighten my mood and take my mind away from my disappointment.

My helmet shattered and my sunglasses shattered against my temple leaving a gash that could have used 6-7 stitches. I opted for glue instead. Concussion. My teeth and jaw hurt, my neck hurts. My ribs are (possibly) cracked as I can't breath deep and coughing is agony from my chest to the middle of my back. My sternum and chest are bruised from my handlebar. My left thumb is excruciating to move and my wrist is completely torqued. My palm is ripped open. From the first crash (that I'm sure of) I have deep bruising in my right hip with flesh gone from my thigh to my ankle. My right quad and right shin are very bruised. I strained my inner quad up in to my groin. From the second crash (that I'm sure of) I have flesh gone from my left arm from my wrist to my elbow, deep bruising in my left hip and road rash from my left hip to ankle.
 I'm emotionally exhausted and loooooow. I'm very fit right now, was riding exceptionally well and felt amazing. It was one of those days that don't happen all the time where you're strong and fatigue just isn't happening. I'm down mostly because I made a poor decision to ride above my ability and take an unnecessary risk and I keep replaying that switchback over and over and over in my head wishing I had just simply touched my brakes. I'm also struggling with the fact that I have 4 weeks until the Leadville 100 bike and I can't even lift my kids. Everything will sort itself out though, it always does and always will and this isn't the end of the world and I need to remember what it could have been... that I'm fairly lucky really. Whatever shattered my helmet could have been sitting just 2" closer and it could have hit me in the temple. I could have broken my neck. Instead I camped that evening and took the photo that is my header pic. And here are a couple more.

Our campsite looking up at Hope Pass

The start. I'm on the front line just right of center in the orange and white.

Apparently I was hungry waiting for the brain scan... I'm completely in a blacked out state here. 

My absolute favorite sunglasses... a little glue and they'll be good to go. I will definitely leave the blood though. 


Wassdoc said...

If more people were like you, our health care system wouldn't be close to bankruptcy! Glue! You may not have won the race, but you had the best story:).

Remember, like I have to tell you, it's about the journey.


Get some rest!

trudginalong said...

I can't thank you enough for the hospitality and the incredible secret camp site. It was a joy talking with you and the fam. That alone was worth the trip up. I hope you heal up quick and there is no residual effect from the head trauma. You may have been a bit out of it at camp still, but you looked FIT AS HELL. No way am I counting you out for LT100 bike, I'm getting my supplies ready for the flag...

David said...

Obviously, you are an amazing athlete. But what is most important is that you are an amazing human being, and I am absolutely thrilled to hear that you are okay in the big scheme of things. We were so worried when your name didn't appear on the results, and this is the first time I ever breathed a sigh of relief at brain trauma.

Let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you and the family. You'll be back crushing dreams in no time!

Dave said...

WOW! You're a badass dude! Don't sweat it man, like you said, it could've been much, MUCH worse. Not only that, but you probably would have been bummed if you DID grab a handful of breaks and let him go-you took a chance and sh*t happened. No reward without risk.

At least you can sit back and have a laugh about it (even though I'm sure it still sucks). And like you said, everything w/ Leadville will work out in the end-if not, the race will still be there next year:).

By the way, that blood on the glasses is awesome! You must've looked like a psycho getting back on the bike and bombing down the rest of the descent.

You and Johnny Hoogerland...

Lucho said...

Mike- Yes, thank you for the reminder! This is just a brief stop in the journey! The super glue wound closure was ridiculously simple and far better than stitches and it took 30" with no pain or anything. And another scar on this face only adds to it's character :)

Patrick- You have no idea how much you helped me to snap out of a deep dark funk. I'm psyched you ran faster than your goal and did so well!

Dave- Ha! Ya, relief that it was only a brain injury is a good thing. And luckily brain trauma won't affect this brain at all! Hell, I might be better now. Thanks man.

Local Mind Media said...

Give it a week and you'll refocus on lt100 and the lt50s will melt away as undercards. You have time and will come around...with a vengeance. (wear a motorcycle helmet for the 100)

Carter said...

Happy to finally be reading this, despite the race outcome (or more acurately in light of the race outcome). Sorry for your spills, but happy for your safety. Hang in there and relax enough to allow your body and mind to bounce back....and they will; you're too fit for them not to.

Brad Poppele said...

So sorry to hear about your crash. I'm very happy to hear that your relatively okay nothing time can't heal. Thank God you were wearing a helmet!
Wishing you a speedy recovery!!!

GZ said...

I am calling bullsh*t on all of this. There were obviously kids "ding dong ditching" you and you chased them down, but got these injuries along the way.

Damn doooode. You have had a tough season with the sudden decelerations against mother earth. Heal up, gear up ... give us some old fashion training love posts while you keep your feet up.

Lucho said...

Dave- I'm a little embarrassed to be honest, I'm a rookie on the tech stuff... you would have cruised that switchback with no hands. As soon as I can put weight on my left hand I'll be doing (almost) nothing but practicing my skills.

Thanks Tim. And thanks a ton for the phone call also, I appreciated that. A motorcycle helmet... either that or shit tons of technical skill work!? (DUH!) Like you said... go to a technical section and ride it... repeat until I'm good.

Thanks Carter. And you having a PR in a 50 mile run by 61' really was a highlight for me to come home to. Thanks :)

Thanks Brad!

G- Damn. Busted!
I hear you man. Sudden deceleration doesn't seem to be working well for me this year.
No feet up for me man, that is a slow death. I'll try to get back on the bike tomorrow and if that doesn't work then I'll run. And if that doesn't work then I'll invent a new endurance sport that does work.

Brett said...


Michelle Simmons said...

YIKES. Oh your wife must have been so worried! Cyclists are so bad ass though. I can totally picture you arguing with everyone b/c you wanted to keep going. Glad someone had their wits about them and yanked you though. Rest up and get better so you can come back with a vengeance!

Carter said..., amazing the ends you will go to to keep a wagered UD water bottle...sheesh...:)

Patrick Thurber said...

do you know how they preserve brains in the lab? alcohol! yeah!

heal. heal. heal.

Lucho said...

Mama- That's why I have my wedding band tattooed on my finger... my wife is my life line. She was worried but she's also pretty hardcore. A rock. And I'm fairly sure I would have gotten back on my bike and finished had they not pulled me.

Carter- Haha! Nice. I do love the bottles!

P.- Ooooooh ya. IPA has been preserving the few brain cells I have left! heal. heall. hell ya.

Ward said...

Damn T... Like Dave said, I knew something went wrong when I didn't see your name pop up in the results and twitter feeds... So glad the damage is minimal. Probably more of a blow to your ego than your melon. You know what they say, when you fall off the horse....

Rick said...

I'm starting a new line of bikes - single speeds with no brakes and I need a spokes person.
So glad you're ok!

mtnrunner2 said...

Damn, I'm really sorry to hear it, and I hope your injuries heal quickly. That is a freakin' scary story.

I checked the results too and was surprised you weren't in them, but was hoping it was something more innocuous. Actually I was thinking of that leaky tire, though I'm not sure why that would cause a DNF.

Nobody can accuse you of not going for it.

Nice header pic. This weather has been bad for mud and humidity, good for fires and sunsets.

James said...

My family and I were at the road section, just before heading to the turnaround. Not sure how much you remember, but pretty sure it was you that slowed to ask if there was medical attention there. After you headed toward the aid station one of my girls said "that guy is tough". It all happened so fast, didn't realize it was you.

Hope all is well.

skatona said...

Dang dude, glad you're ok. You'll get it done on the 100.

kerrie said...

i'm sure i can find some vagisil for you...maybe that might help ;)! i probably would have kept going, but whatever, glad to hear you are okay(and i hope jo is too).

probably one of the main reasons i gave up mountain bike racing - i didn't have the balls i needed for some of the crazy ass downhills, especially after having rain.

one of the best technical riders out there: GG - make plans to shadow him when you are up for it.

Lucho said...

Ward- You get back on it! My self pity is turning slowly to an itch to kill it at the 100.

Thanks Rick! No SS for me though.

Mt2- I'll heal up just fine. Thanks!

James- Funny. You kind of sparked a memory... sort of. Now I have this hazy flash of a moment but I'm not sure if it's because you put it there :) Make sure to tell your daughter there's a fine line between tough and stupid.

Thanks Shaun, I WILL get it done in 4 weeks!

Kerrie- I was expecting something more harsh... thanks for being gentle. When Alex (the winner) came by he made it look simple. What looked simple put me in an ambulance though. Insane skills on the tech trails... that's the goal over the next month!

Brandon Fuller said...

So I jogged out to the finish during the race and ran about a mile in on the course. Talked with some volunteers and was telling them "My buddy will be up front. Watch." They gave me this "heard that before" roll of the eyes. Sat perched on the final climb to the finish for an hour waiting for you to come bombing down that last hill. Had fun watching but after about 30 dudes I figured something was up. Maybe it was that DNS he always talks about having? Hmmm. Had no clue what had happened further up course. Pat filled me in the next morning.

I still plan on coming out to watch you at the big bike race. So get well so I have someone to cheer for!

Thomas said...

Holy Shit!

Learn from it, in which case you will have failed successfully (your own words).

Fantastic photos, though.

Brad Poppele said...

Forgot to mention I love your header photo. Amazing!!!

Anonymous said...

It became apparent at some point that something went wrong. I assumed mechanical. Glad your ok.
You mentioned something about your confidence with the Stans wheelset build up and Kendra Small Block's cornering abilities "if you had the balls". You obviously had them! But with multiple falls, any thoughts on the set up?
Your a pleasure to follow! Keep up the mojo. It's inspiring.

Trigirlpink said...

Ok, I can honestly say I didn't BLINK my eyes once just reading that. Holy Crap...

As you've done in the past, you will do again: Pick yourself up mentally and give your wreck of a body some time to heal and back at it you will go. One day at a time. Leadville will be there. This year and years to come for that matter. Hang in there.

Lucho said...

Brandon- I'm counting on you being on Powerline. I suspect at that point I'll be pretty wasted. Maybe after the race we can grab a beer?

Thomas- Thanks and nice memory... I do say that about failing.

Thanks Brad.

Jeff- I pulled the Small Block 8 off the front before the race and switched to a Maxxis Aspen... I thought it would grip better. In my very limited experience it seems like it was too knobby for the hard packed sand on the course? For Leadville I'm going with a Small Block 8 on the front and a Specialized Renegade on the back (I think).
But in the end it really does come down more to my staying within my ability. I wrecked due to a poor choice... the tire wouldn't have made a difference.
Thanks for the good word!

TGP- Coming from someone who has dealt with their own setbacks I believe you :)

Brandon Fuller said...

I plan on "run spectating" so not too wasted! Powerline will be a key spot on my journey both ways I suspect.

Let me know if I can be of other service that weekend. I am a mile from the start/finish so whether that's a beer and shower after or anything before...

Are you bummed that its not going to be a matching buckle? Kind of sucks.