Saturday, July 21, 2012

That's gonna leave a mark

I’ve been riding mountain bikes for nearly 23 years. Like all mountain bikers, I’ve crashed more times than I can count. I’ve had at least two concussions, broken an elbow, punctured my right calf with gear teeth multiple times, pierced my chin with my teeth, and suffered blunt-force trauma that required surgery to repair my inner thigh.

But I’ve never shed a significant amount of blood until this week, when I took a fall on Speedway singletrack. It wasn’t a bad crash. Just a tumble to the left when I locked up on a knot of roots that sent me over an old fallen tree. A small branch had long ago broken off and left a sharp piece of wood that punctured the outside of my quad.

As soon as I sat up and started assessing the damage, I saw a small but steady stream of blood trickling out of my leg. I told Julie, my riding partner, that I was fine, other than a little blood. After I stood up and turned my leg toward her, Julie said, “That’s really bleeding.”

I looked down and saw rivulets of blood running down my calf, then Julie mentioned that we were probably going to need to stop the bleeding. That’s when we inventoried our first-aid supplies.

They consisted of inner tubes, pumps and multi-tools. Great first-aid supplies for a flat tire, but fairly useless for a leg, unless it happens to need a tourniquet.

There was nothing to do but continue riding. I figured that either the bleeding would stop, or I’d cut the ride short and head for home, several miles away. Fortunately, it stopped. I just had and ugly web of blood across the bottom half of one leg.

The pisser was that for two years, on long backcountry rides I’ve carried packages of wipes that contain a blood-clotting agent for small wounds. I got them as a free sample from the manufacturer, and thought it would be cool if one of my friends would cut something open and give us a chance to try those things. The dudes did not abide.

I finally get a bleeder, and where are the blood-clotting wipes?

At home, in my garage.

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