27 May 2010

Road to Recovery

WARNING -- This post includes an x-ray of some new hardware that some may find disturbing.
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Just a quick note that I had surgery on my elbow on Tuesday as planned -- two TI pins plus some extra wire so the bone will heal properly.  Back home yesterday, in time to watch #1 son's high school graduation and make a short visit back to work today, to be followed with a longer day tomorrow.

The arm is in a half cast for the time being, but in a week I should be able to start to move it and do some rehab exercises.  The ribs also feel as if they are healing, but I probably won't be on a bicycle again until after a trip that is scheduled in late June, and I am still scratching my head about what I can do to reduce the risk of another injury, since I don't enjoy the whole hospital experience.  I will need another visit anyway in 6-12 months to have the hardware removed.

The best I have come up with so far is (1) avoid back streets, sidewalks, pedestrian paths (including the Tama-sai except when it is empty) and all forms of non-automotive congestion, and (2) lose enough weight so that my bones don't break when I fall, and so that maybe I can brake/react/evade a bit more quickly.  Other suggestions are welcome.

... I should add, thanks to all for the many well wishes, and to those who forwarded this article about Jens Voigt's recovery last year after crashing out of the Tour -- prominent on the front of the NY Times Online just a day or two after my injury.

9 comments:

Manfred von Holstein said...

Glad to hear that the surgery seems to have gone very well. I definitely don't envy you for your situation. I think your conclusions are right, and don't have any additional ideas.

James said...

David,

I was actually going to write a piece on road safety. One thing to remember is that a huge percentage of accidents happen within a 3km radius of where you live. As you make assumptions regarding traffic flow and safety.

The accident with the Mama Chari was probably within spitting distance of where she lived.
The other thing is basically keeping of road rules, I’m guilty as most for jumping reds in quiet areas but vehicles in those same areas will seriously push the speed limits also assuming the roads are empty.

Also in the UK they teach the 1/3rd rule for cyclists, for me its second nature but for a lot of people on bikes taking up 1/3rd of the lane seems dangerous and they will ride in the gutter.
Taking up 1/3rd of a lane stops cars squeezing through trying to overtake you and will force them to slow down and wait for a suitable break.

The other is following the law when over taking vehicles and that is to do it on the right side. This is very important when navigating slow moving or stopped traffic especially if there is a high chance of them turning left, or cars coming from the opposite direction turning right. You’re in sight, and safe from cars turning into you. If a car is turning right 99% of the time they have the indicators flashing to warn the oncoming traffic and motor cyclists that are over taking.

Trucks, I would seriously recommend that if you come to a junction and there is one at the front of the queue to stop and let the truck go first, stay well back.

I watched a documentary on the BBC recently showing just how invisible cyclists are to trucks after two cyclists in the UK where crushed to death at a junction. They just can’t see you due to the huge blind spots along the sides of the trucks at cyclist’s level. Watching I was shocked just how invisible we are.

Awareness, look around you look through cars and give a wide berth to parked vehicles and oncoming traffic on your side of the road.
Lastly Indicating, letting drivers know what you are doing is equally important giving clear hand signals for turning or waving traffic past if you are comfortable for them to do so in narrow roads.

I commuted from Yokohama to Tokyo on the 246 and lived by these rules and they kept me safe I use them now on my daily training rides around where I live.

mob said...

Cool. Titanium pins with extra wire .... bio-mechatronical enhanced .... from which groupset are these? Dura Ace?

I hope and pray that you will recover soon. Perhaps it is a good idea to take the train out to places like Hashimoto, Ome or Otsuki to avoid most of the smaller backstreets in urban Tokyo.
I did this after my accident last year for a while, but I gave up as I loose too much time in the train which could be spend riding.

James wrote:

"The accident with the Mama Chari was probably within spitting distance of where she lived."

That is of course highly unlikely. More likely is, that she was a 75 year old professional mama chari world tour rider on her last leg of London - Futago Tamagawa.

David L. said...

James -- I agree completely with the road safety rules. Both my accidents have been within 3 km of my house, and even closer for the counterparties.

I think I've got the car & truck safety rules down. Especially I agree on the need to not be too timid and ride too close to the edge of the lane - a classic rookie mistake that risks being squeezed by traffic and hit when doors open.

Add extra lights and bright colored clothing. I've been told there are new LED based "light bars" that are very visible -- both distance and angle -- I've got to pick one up.

There is some information on the 1/3 rule and similar in this article on bicycle commuting in my former place of residence:

http://www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/resources/publications/washington_lawyer/may_2010/biking.cfm

David L. said...

Dura Ace, of course.

James said...

Ahhh but David..... You've splashed out a little on the Yumeya Titanium pins as those are standard Dura Ace!

Glad to hear you are on the road to recovery.

Another note on safety is how cars and other road users perceive us. I’m not talking about unwillingness to share the road but more to do with the fact of knee jerk reactions.

Classic case of this are cars turning on to a road, they quickly look right and spot a cyclist 50m down the road and assume they are doing 10 to 15kph and pull out, 99% of the time they are safe to do so but when a serious cyclist is thrown in to the scenario doing 30-40kph the driver no longer has the time required and either the rider has to suddenly stop or gets hit.

One of the biggest problems we as serious cyclists face is this exact problem, people not realising just how fast we go and we should always assume the worst case scenario when reacting to the road.

Another thing I have noticed out on rides is how some navigate the obstructions in the road; many people will navigate the obstacle within 3 meters of it and then swerve back in.

The safest way to do so is to start pulling about 10-15 meters before hand and give clear hand signals; (The Japanese are taught to react to hand signals from an early age, look at the little kids when they cross roads, for a laugh with Fumiki I did this when trying to cross an intersection along the Tamagawa, straight away the cars stopped!) this gives other road users a clear indication of what is happening in the road ahead. I’ve seen some closes misses where a driver has been to focused on the rider not realising there is an obstruction in the road and the rider has either had to make a sudden stop in front of the parked car or road works or almost been squashed between the overtaking car and the obstacle.

Learn the Japanese hand signals and use them....for UK riders they are the same.(Im not talking about Peloton signals btw)

Stopping: I’ve seen people do some crazy things at stop lights, circling in the middle of a junction waiting for a green, pulling into to the right lane as if they are turning right which is green and then darting across the junction, pulling on to the opposite side of the road riding against traffic and then when clear jumping across on to the correct lane and all manner of stuff that will get you killed and frustrate and antagonise other road users.

The only time we are really allowed to skip a red is when the junction is to the right and then with caution. I’m guilty as many for jumping reds but in the last 5 months I’ve really cut back on the jumping, mainly after hearing about Michael’s, David’s and Bryon’s accidents and some very near misses.

Thank you; Thank drivers with a wave, salute or thumbs up for giving you space or waiting for you, be considerate and make them feel you appreciate their actions. Especailly if you are holding them back on fast flowing roads. It will encourage them to do it again for other riders.

One thing I have also noticed is a lot of clubs have discussed the use of the Tamagawa cycle path for training or navigating to meeting & start points and a lot of them are coming to the agreement of maintaining 25kph along the path. Riders out training for races are urged to use the road from now on and no longer ride in big groups.

And the consensus is that its better to regulate ourselves than have a blanket ban on using it at all.

Anonymous said...

David, get better soon - only 13 months til transalp 2011 - better get committed to thinking about training. David and Juliane

David L. said...

Thanks, David and Juliane. Delighted to see the classic (retro) PE jerseys in London!

No need to worry about me, and no need for me to commit to thinking about training, as I am ALREADY thinking about training for Transalp 2011. At this rate, I might even start actual training WEEKS or even MONTHS before the event.

And after watching streaming video (www.cyclingfans.com) yesterday's Giro stage (the "Motirolo" looked incredibly steep, long and painful; Livigno, the Gavia and others to come today!) I am even thinking about weight loss so I can get up those mountains without being humiliated by a Swedish guy wearing yellow and riding a triple crank, or some Russian Tigers who ride themselves into better shape than me during the event.

And if my recovery goes on schedule, then I still will not abandon the idea of getting enough Brevet mileage this year to have a Japan spot for PBP2011 later next summer.

z said...

Good to see you're on the road to recovery, David. Get on the PowerCranks on the indoor trainer as soon as you can, and all that time off the road won't be so bad.
Lots of good advice here. I think avoiding the back streets, footpaths, etc, is the best option, but if you have to use them, the best thing is to slow down to 10-15km/h for the short time you'll be using them. There will always be someone coming out without looking, but even if it's their fault, you still get injured, and the big, fast looking guy on the sports bike looks bad in the public eye anyway.
Best wishes for a speedy recovery,
zac at rgt