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Life in the Bike Lane

Tom Frady

The most sharp-eyed among you five loyal readers may have noticed this column has not appeared for several weeks.

I have been writing in this space for nearly six years. I am too lazy to go back and count how many times I have specifically encouraged you readers to get out on your bike because it is fun and healthy for you and the environment. I have given tips on how to be visible to drivers, ride safely and obey the law.

That’s what makes these words hard to write.

I had an accident. I was in Half Moon Bay, 31 miles into my 15th Annual AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545-mile, 7-day ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. At a very low speed, I hit a “Bott’s Dot”, one of those hard rubber bumps in the road designed to delineate a lane or let cars know there is a stop sign ahead. Unfortunately, this dot was not connected to the asphalt and it shot out from my front wheel, which then went horizontal. I was lying on the road in a split second.

I shattered my acetabulum, the “socket” of the ball and socket of the hip. The X-rays revealed several fractures and miscellaneous pieces of bone floating around. The surgeon said it was like taking a hammer to a cookie.

This is the only time I have had an accident from which I could not ride away. It is also my first broken bone.

I found specialists at UC Med Center. After five hours of surgery to repair the acetabulum and replace my hip, a hospital stay and rehab, I made it home. Before my accident, I would spend about 20 hours a week on bike-related matters. Mostly riding, of course, but writing, editing photos, doing a little research and maybe washing my bike took up much of my time. Right now, there’s a hole, no an abyss, in my day. I’m at home with bad TV, suddenly uncomfortable furniture and an attention span too short to read a book.

I know many people don’t ride because they perceive cycling as dangerous, albeit I believe most would-be riders fear cars more than random flotsam (or is it jetsam?) in the road. In fact, when I have researched “Is cycling safe” virtually all studies discuss car vs. bike crashes. The rate of injury for cycling is lower than most other sports.

As Safety Officer for The Lincoln Hills Cyclists, I have been attempting to keep track of bike accidents that were serious enough to require a doctor’s attention. Only 13% of the accidents involved a car.

A few years ago, I was teaching my grandson to ride a bike. He crashed and scraped his knee. Through monster sobs he said, “If bikes had never been invented, this wouldn’t have happened”.

True, I guess, but . . .

Every doctor and nurse commented on my fitness level and how it not only enhanced my recovery but influenced how surgery was done. I was not a 72-year-old being sent home to sit on the couch.

A takeaway for everyone is that being in good shape, having your weight where it should be and eating well will all contribute to one’s getting better faster from either an accident or illness. You don’t have to be bike rider. Swim, walk, jog, play basketball, hit the gym. And you don’t have to be a fanatic about it. What’s a bike ride without a donut?

Back on July 15th, I was given a target date to get back on my bike. I have circled September 10th on my calendar. I will not be intimidated by a 6 inch hard rubber disc. I am a cyclist. But that first ride will be an experience.

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