Utility Cycling While Injured

You may have noticed that it’s been quite some time since I posted anything other than a video here at Utility Cycling. And perhaps you noticed my cool arm accessory in this video. Unfortunately, I’ve spent the last six and a half weeks dealing with a badly broken arm. Fortunately, I did not break my arm in a utility cycling accident, rather I broke it in a sport cycling accident. Silly sport cycling… However, the broken arm has prevented me from riding a bike – at all – which means no cycling of any sort. I faced a similar situation a few years ago when I had major reconstructive surgery on my knee, but since I was stuck with crutches, any sort of self-propelled transportation was out of the question. This time, since my legs are working just fine, it feels rather odd not to be able to use my bicycle for getting around town. Therefore, I was inspired to write about utility cycling while injured. I usually don’t write about personal stuff here, but since this has impacted my ability to be a utility cyclist, I thought it was appropriate. But hopefully this post is never relevant to you!

Minor Injuries

It happens to the best of us. One minute you are riding along blissfully, enjoying the wind in your face, and the next minute you are face to face with the ground. This can happen at any speed, in any conditions. Crashing does not necessarily mean that you were riding recklessly or poorly. Sometimes it just happens. Whatever the cause, many of us have had some kind of silly, minor cycling accident – be it riding to work, during a group ride or a charity ride, during a recreation ride or race, or simply when the stars do not seem to be aligned in our favor. Although the results may vary, a minor accident may result in light road rash, contusions, soreness, sheepishness, and annoyance, but nothing more serious would be included in this category.

Dealing With a Crash: In the event of any type of cycling accident, carefully assess any injuries to your body. Take your time getting up. Make sure you didn’t hit your head, and if you did, take it seriously and consult a doctor. If you cracked your helmet, throw it away and get a new one. If you can get up safely and you aren’t experiencing any symptoms of shock (ie. nausea, dizziness), get to a safe place. However, if you are going into shock, try to convince yourself not to get up, or you may pass out or fall again. Stay on the ground until help arrives. If you are on a road, move to the side of the road as quickly as possible and sit down again. If you aren’t in shock, you should next assess any damage to your bike. If it is in working order, take some time to let the adrenaline from the crash pass and take a few deep breaths. When you are ready, remount your steed and keep pedaling.

In the case of a minor cycling accident, your first reaction might be to want to call for a ride. However, I highly recommend getting back on your bike, as long as it is safe to do so, as riding can really help to calm your nerves. Once you are home, go over your bike and body once again to make sure everything is ok. From there, try to get on your bike the next time you are scheduled to ride. If you keep riding, the crash won’t seem so bad, and the easy movement of riding can help reduce soreness. Make sure that you properly protect any damaged skin from the sun until it is healed. But with a minor cycling accident, I highly recommend that you keep riding to exorcise the crash demons!

Major Injuries

Unfortunately, sometimes more serious injuries do occur due to cycling, but they can also be sustained in other ways. I am certainly not writing this post to scare anyone, but sometimes an injury, or a health problem, can force us to take some time away from riding. I briefly discussed some rules of thumb for making a quick assessment of a cycling crash above, but a more major crash might be more complex than can be covered here. However, if you are anything like me, loosing the option of using a bicycle for transportation is a somewhat scary thought. After breaking my arm, I had a panic moment where I thought to myself, “Oh no! How am I going to get around now?!” So here are a few suggestions for getting around without a bike or a personal car.

Public Transit: My two main modes of transportation have always been a bicycle or a car, but I refuse to drive to campus, as its crowded, expensive, and makes me grouchy. Plus, I try not to get in the habit of driving very much, so with both the car and bicycle options removed, I turned to public transportation. The City of Tucson has a decent bus system, but I had never used it before. So I purchased a semester bus pass and started riding the Sun Tran. So far, it’s been pretty great. The main downside here in Tucson is the lack of shade at some bus stops, which is quite uncomfortable when the temps are above 100F! Nonetheless, I’m glad I finally made my first foray into public transportation.

Walking: Although it’s too far for me to walk to campus, the place I go most regularly, I have been incorporating walking into my transportation plan. This is somewhat by default, as the bus does not drop you off directly where you need to go, like a bicycle can, but it has been a great opportunity to slow down the pace and take in the scenery even more than I do by bicycle.

Carpooling: This hasn’t been an option for me yet, but not being able to ride would be a good opportunity to become a part of a carpool or even start one. But make sure to tell your carpool mates that your presence is temporary until you can ride your bike again!

Other: What other options might you have if you had to take some time away from using your bicycle for transportation? This varies b
y person, but it would be fun to hear other creative methods of getting around without a bike or driving alone.

Although using public transportation and walking more have been a good experiences for me thus far, I am certainly looking forward to the freedom and fun of getting back on my bicycle for transportation. Not to mention, my husband just got me this awesome new commuter bike, and I can’t wait to take it on its maiden voyage!


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