Lost Blog(s) Introduction
During the five years that I have been on SparkPeople, I have composed several blogs, that for one reason or another, I never posted. I have decided to post a few of these "Lost Blogs".
This blog is the second in a series. However, the three "Great Outdoors" blogs are really an enormous blog that I composed as one unit in June 2013. When I posted this entire blog, SparkPeople only allowed less than half this blog to be posted.
Here is the link to Part 1 - Great Outdoors Part 1 - Moderately Fit
My Great Outdoors blog trilogy is a dramatic true story. Going through, and re-reading this story was like reliving those days in June 2013.
The events of June 12th, 2013 were unpleasant for me. I hope you enjoy this lost blog "Disaster Strikes".
-----------------------Start of Lost Blog ------------------
Part 13: Disaster Strikes
The second day mountain bike ride was to be a short 15 mile hop to the next camp. I got up feeling good and rested. I had slept 14 hours of the last 24 hours. I had managed to take a shower using a solar heated container the previous day before dinner. I was clean and feeling strong!
I also smelled coffee and bacon!
After a hearty breakfast, we broke camp. We started riding our bikes into a beautiful red dawn, Kimberly took her spot riding shotgun in the van. At the urging of Jon the HR guy, I decided to be a good citizen and ride with the group. This second day's trip was supposed to be a lot easier than first day's.
After riding about a mile, we climbed up a ridge. At the top of the ridge, the road doubled-back and started down the other side. As I rounded the curve at the top of the ridge, I saw that there was a huge valley ahead. I saw blurry washed out colors on the desert rock formations on the other side of the valley . I knew this phenomenon was desert dry haze caused by tiny dust particles suspended in the air.
When you see this type of haze and heat distortion off in the distance, you can bet that there is one hellacious drop-off nearby.
I cut to the inside of the curve, mostly because I knew there had to be a huge cliff to the right. I was also being lazy. I didn't want to pedal any more distance than necessary and the inside line was shorter.
I glanced to the right. Yup, there was about a 1,000 foot shear vertical drop on the right side of the road.
The road was wide, well maintained and had a protective berm.
No big deal, right? Just ride down the road, ignore the cliff of doom and don't panic. Guess what? The group of novice riders panicked big time! I caught out of the corner of my eye, a wall of scared mountain bikers coming right at me.
I now understood the Western Spirit website did try to warn me, "This trip is not technical and is great for those with moderate fitness who are ready to try the dirt."
My only option was to ride into the v-ditch at the left side of the road to avoid a collision with seven panicked bike riders. I was afraid that if I didn't give ground, a collision might send a few of them over the edge - literally.
The v-ditch was deep. The bottom of the ditch was soft sand and sharp rocks. I was still moving at a moderate speed of maybe 10 mph. I saw a big rock overhang coming at me that I could not turn to avoid. I was still blocked in the ditch by a herd of scared mountain bikers that were trying to stay as far away from the cliff as possible.
I couldn't get out of the ditch. A face plant into a big rock overhang seemed a scenario worth avoiding.
I was between a rock and a hard place, quite literally! I had to stop in one hell of a hurry. I grabbed the brakes. The big brakes bit hard. I slowed down quickly. I dropped my heels to brace against the braking force. I am thinking, "Whew, I dodged that bullet".
Well, not so fast.
My wheels were way down below the grade level of the road. I am stuck in an ever deepening v-ditch. The ditch is full of big sharp rocks. I am on the ragged edge of losing control of my bike. As I have done a jillion times, I put my right foot on the road surface to steady the bike.
Then it happened!
My foot rolled completely under my ankle. I had the sensation that my foot was not attached to my leg! My right ankle had been "sprained" when I got clobbered by a car some weeks earlier. I had been careful not to put too much stress on my right ankle hoping it would heal.
In that place, and at that instant, I desperately needed a whole right ankle - and I didn't have one!
My right knee slammed against the hard rocky surface. A huge chunk a flesh was torn from my knee cap. The muscle above my knee was sliced open. White hot lightning shot through every nerve in my body and exploded in my brain! I let out a guttural scream of agony and despair! The pain was like a blazing white hot axe had cleaved my leg and knee apart!
I rolled over on my back. My vision was blurry. Blood and gore were all over the place. Every time my heart beat, waves of pain shot through me. I thought, "What the hell!" I slowly became aware that there was a ring of people around me. Their faces were a mix of sympathy and horror.
Somebody handed me my eye glasses. I saw that shredded dirty skin hung loosely from my knee cap. My lower thigh was chopped like hamburger! In the dry Utah heat, the streaks of blood had already semi-congealed into a goopy and gory mess. My knee was cut clear to the bone.
I saw the bloody spot near the road where I had hit. My knee had smashed into a small rock outcropping. This outcropping looked like a set of jagged stone daggers! Small chunks of what used to be my flesh were mixed with the bloody mess on the stone daggers.
I saw the broken visor of my helmet on the bloody ground. I thought, "Oh great! I hit my head again!"
I attempted to stand. The other riders tried to steady me. This kindness and sympathy made me mad! I abruptly pulled away. I picked my bike off the ground and threw my leg over my saddle. I started pedaling down the road. For that few minutes, which seem like centuries, on top of a Utah cliff, I was out of my mind with pain!
I started feeling light-headed. Without thinking, I put my right foot down. My ankle gave way again! I smacked the ground with my right knee once more. This time my horribly wounded knee was hammered against blazing hot road gravel. It felt like a million bees stinging my knee all at once. Most of the tattered skin was ripped off my kneecap leaving a rude "Z" pattern of exposed bone surrounded by a bloody pulp of flesh.
I gritted my teeth. Tears welled-up in my eyes. With every breath I made a soft high-pitched moan. I couldn't look at my mangled leg any longer.
I heard the trample of feet coming toward me. This time I didn't move. Remember I said I worked for a healthcare company? A few of my fellow bikers were registered nurses. This time I just laid on my back, stared into the deep blue western sky and let these people do their work. The heat from the road soaking through my back felt good. I think the heat kept me from going into shock.
I still have a huge, ugly and jagged purple scar on my right knee. Since June 12th of 2013 my right knee still gives me some trouble from time-to-time.
Once I was not bleeding like a stuck hog; and my wounds had been cleaned and bandaged; I drank some water and I wanted to go. I felt okay. I took off on my Stumpjumper like a rocket!
My companions were nice people. However, I would rather stay clear of them while riding. I would take my chances that Jon the HR guy would disapprove.
Part 14: Maybe There is Something Really Deeply Broken
Once I got to the new campsite, I took a solar shower, washed the congealed blood out of my right shoe, and had a couple of Wynkoop beer pain-killers! The guides and one nurse re-dressed my wound.
I found myself a minor celebrity. While sitting around the campfire, some of my fellow riders publicaly thanked me for taking the ditch, and ending-up a bloody mess, all just to keep them from getting maimed or killed.
I thought they were being way too dramatic about this. I just said, "Aw shucks, twernt nothin’ ". Which I hoped they would take as "Thanks, now please leave me alone"!
I wasn't trying to be grumpy. I was deep in thought. I was starting to realize that I had some really deep hurts. This line of thought scared me. I could not push the thought out of my head, that maybe, just maybe, my battered and bloody knee was a symptom of something worse.
I sat around the campfire and iced my knee with a zip-lock baggie full of ice that Olive had given me. I had mixed emotions about the source of the ice. Olive had taken the ice out of the beer cooler. After a few medicinal beers, I headed off to bed.
--------------End of Lost Blog - Great Outdoors Part 2: Disaster Strikes ------------
And so ends my second day in Utah. I was acutely embarrassed that I crashed my bike and hurt myself. Everything happened so quickly. From start to finish, the incident I described in this blog - from rounding the curve to acquiescing to be treated - took far less than a minute.
Perhaps, that is the way of things. Maybe all life-changing events happen in the blink-of-an-eye.
I have a bad temper that I learned to control many years ago. But I still have a hot button. I hate to be the object of sympathy. I am a big boy. I pay my money. I roll the dice. If the dice come up snake-eyes, then so what? I make my own choices. Sympathy and recognition cheapens any sacrifice. I know this sounds stupid. I would take the ditch in a heartbeat again.
Eventually my knee and thigh would require 42 stitches to repair. As it was, the nurses had cleaned and disinfected my wound. They closed the nasty gash using surgical tape.
Where did they get all this stuff?
They got it from my first-aid kit in my hydration pack.
I was saved by an REI "Back Packer Weekend First-Aid Kit" that I bought in downtown Denver for the outrages sum of $24.50 ! This modest first-aid kit was worth triple it's weight in gold in the hands of skilled healthcare professionals, while perched high above the Utah Canyonlands. My riding companions stopped the flow of my very lifeblood from spilling into the baked earth on a blazing hot day on June 12, 2013.
I know my life, health and well-being, are exactly worth $24.50 I call that a blessing! I have been to the edge of the world and survived. I will leave you with a thought by the poet Robert Bridges.
"Ah! little at best can all our hopes avail us
To lift this sorrow, or cheer us, when in the dark,
Unwilling, alone we embark,
And the things we have seen and have known and have heard of, fail us. "
Welcome to my world and thanks for reading my blog.
I will soon be posting my most bewildering and frightening Utah experience in the final chapter of my Great Outdoors saga:
Lost Blog: Great Outdoors Part 3 - Are You Trying to Kill Me?