Click here to read Part 1, if you haven’t already.
Fact #1– Humans have anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day. That is 2500 to 5000 per each waking hour. This roughly equals to 1 to 3 thoughts per second.
In the second after which I turned back, the 3 thoughts in my head were –
- He’s definitely going to crash into me.
- That helmet is strikingly blue.
- Oh shit! He’s definitely going to crash into me.
Fact #2 – Nerve impulse signals such as those for muscle position, travel at speeds up to 119m/s.
I remember that when the impact happened, my motor neurons went into overdrive instructing the limbs to do everything possible to keep my bike the right way up. For a moment, I thought I had regained my balance, but it was not meant to be. I lost control and crashed at 60kmph.
As I approached the tarmac, the much known dread of hitting the floor returned hard. My field of vision tuned cylindrical as I began to roll and tumble. This was the fastest speed I have crashed at so far. I was expecting to reach 0kmph sooner than it happened. I could feel my hips taking the brunt of the force and my helmet getting roughened up quite bad.
This was the fastest speed I have crashed at so far, and the loudest thought in my head was – “Why have I not stopped rolling yet?”
After what seemed like an eternity of countless impacts, I finally stopped moving. I was lying in a fetal position, leaning on my right.
As I opened my eyes, I could see a cyclist’s front wheel hit my back and him getting catapulted off his bike. I could hear the panic behind me and braced for further impact.
All of the above happened in less than 5 seconds.
I just shut my eyes for a while and the first thought in my head was of the massive disappointment that my first race in Spain and of the year had come to an end in such a manner.
Fact #3 – Nerve impulses such as pain signals travel slower at 0.61m/s
But my disappointments were short lived (Roughly 0.82s) when the pain kicked in. And it kicked in HARD! Every single part of my body hurt and I felt like I would explode soon.
My mind scrambled to figure out how to lessen the pain. I recollected an inspiring scene from the movie “Dead Poet’s Society” where Robin Williams encourages his students to let out a “Barbaric Yawp”. I let out my own yawp and screamed the loudest roar to drown out the pain. And the disappointment. Surprisingly, it seemed to work, as I felt better. Albeit slightly!
I was approached by a bystander speaking Spanish, asking how I was. I looked to my feet and was pleasantly surprised to see my bike lying there.
I pointed towards it and said, “Mis biciclettas”. I could not figure out how to say “Please pause my Garmin” in Spanish, so I let that be.
I then ran my hand over my hip and it felt different in structure. A cold thought ran in the back of my head wondering if I had broken it. I decided it was best to wait for the ambulance and remain stationary till then. I then reached for my collarbones and was glad to see them retain their shape.
At this point, there were 2 more men checking up on me. “Habla ingles?“, I asked. “No“, they replied dejectedly. “Ambulancia, por favor” I replied and made a couple of gestures pointing to my hip. They understood what I meant and hurried to get the race ambulance to me.
I had heard horror stories of how injuries can worsen if not handled well immediately after a crash, so I made it a point to lie as still as possible in the most comfortable position I could find.
The Road Back To Reality
When the ambulance arrived, they got me on the stretcher, which was surprisingly more technologically advanced than I had expected. I was rolled into the ambulance without any discomfort and we began our way to the hospital.
I was surprisingly calm in the ambulance, plotting my moves depending on which bone would be revealed as broken. Since this was a home course, I also had knowledge of the route from the crash site to the hospital, so I kept my mind occupied by spotting the tree or hill or bridge that I had seen earlier while out training and guess-timated how long it would take me to the hospital.
At the hospital, I provided my basic information as I was reeled into the emergency ward. A nurse cleaned up my wounds and said I would be taken in for X-rays to check my hips, collarbones and neck.
I was joined by my cycling team admin, Javi, and gave him a rundown of what happened. He spoke with the staff and got things moving around quicker. An hour passed by faster than expected thanks to the painkiller I was administered after which I was reeled in for the x-rays.
As I anticipated to hear the news of the damage and began calculating the time I would need to recover, the tense minutes felt like hours. The prospect of losing much worked upon fitness and the long struggle to get it back was also worrying. Then Javi walks towards me from the x-ray room with a relaxing grin. The nurse alongside is smiling too as she speaks in Spanish and makes hand gestures which I translate to no broken bones.
Well, almost no broken bones. One finger damaged. No big deal in the grand scheme of things.
I almost cried in delight and relief on hearing that news. I had to wait for a while till I got my finger treated and I got around to thinking about the day’s proceedings. While recollecting, I realized that I had a choice to make. I could wallow in my misery and pity myself about the 4th major crash in the last 25 months. I could constantly ask, “Why me?!?!” as I fail to gain any understanding of this crazy world. Or, I could recognize how lucky I am that I fought the tarmac at that high a speed and basically walked away, or rather got rolled away, with a few flesh wounds. That I don’t even have a concussion is a miracle.
I made that choice. I’m here now, and no self pity is going to change that fact. What awaits next is a month-long exigent road to racing again. I can’t see myself doing anything other than –
- Focusing on my recovery
- Pick up enough Spanish to say “Please pause my Garmin”.