Get a life: As easy as falling off a bike

Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP

I often wish that I had taken up some of my outdoor hobbies when I was much younger. It wasn't until 1996, when I moved back to Colorado from Kansas, that I started taking up outdoor hobbies outside of camping and skiing. I was pushing 40 at the time, and had a job that required a great deal of travel, as well as two young children and a wife with whom I actually enjoyed spending time (this part is still true). So, while none of my time was exactly "spare", I did carve some out to take kayaking lessons and rock-climbing classes. I also started mountain biking after receiving a bike as a birthday gift from my family.

I'm a big believer in regularly maintaining outdoor gear. With that in mind, one spring in anticipation of the upcoming biking season, I took my mountain bike in for a tune-up. I got home from a business trip in time to pick the bike up a week later. The next day was one of those beautiful early spring days in Colorado where the afternoon sun warmed things up, it wasn't too windy, and there wasn't any snow to speak of on the local trails. I decided to take advantage of such a fine day and try out my newly tuned bike.

I headed out onto a paved trail that started near my home. I was thrilled with the performance of the bike. Everything felt perfect: My gears shifted smoothly and my shocks were perfectly adjusted. I was in the zone. There was no one out on the trail so I was really moving along. I came around a curve and noticed some young boys on bikes starting down a trail that came down to join mine from a nearby street. They were going to merge in front of me and I realized if I didn't do something quickly I was going to run right into them. So, I did what any sensible person would do--I hit the brakes. I didn't hit them any harder than I normally would, but in that instant I didn't consider that the brakes had just been adjusted, meaning they were much tighter than usual. My front wheel locked and set me catapulting over the handle bars, my shoes still clipped to the pedals.

The first thing to hit was my helmet (thankfully I was wearing one), followed by my right shoulder. I sat dazed, watching my bike continue end-over-end down the trail, as Tweety Bird and several of his closest tweety friends flew in circles around my head.

About this time, one of the boys who had witnessed my incredible feat of athleticism pulled up on his BMX bike, looked down at me through his full-face helmet and exclaimed, "Dude! That was hardcore!" I thanked him as I picked myself up and retrieved my bike. Ignoring my potential head, neck, and spinal injuries, I started riding slowly and painfully home. Fortunately, it turned out that all I had was a separated collarbone and a broken coracoid process on my right scapula. No surgery needed, just lots of pain meds and time to heal.

And yes, I do learn from my mistakes. I still take excellent care of my outdoor gear, but now I make sure to compensate for tune-ups. And I think about the pain associated with being "hardcore" every time I apply my brakes ever so gently.  

Comments (1) -

Timothy Lee
Timothy LeeUnited States
2/22/2013 1:47:50 PM #

Mike,  You are always "Hardcore"

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