We have been working hard to get everything in order to start the grand adventure. Selecting items for the hike pile and the bike pile (including numerous discussions about how many pieces of clothing are allowed), packing up those piles, packing up the rest of the apartment, and making arrangements for mail delivery. It’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ one collects even when trying not to collect ‘stuff’. The days have passed by quickly and there is always more to do.
The plan was to spend a month in the US with family and then fly back to Sydney and then on to Perth to start the Bibbulum Track. Sunday morning we were riding our touring bikes over to the house of our friends who have graciously agreed to store them while we were on the track. It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Sydney, calm and quiet as we rode across the Harbour Bridge in the early morning light. There was very little traffic given the early hour, and the temperature was perfect for cycling.
We were about a kilometer from our friends’ house when we had a miscommunication about directions as we were going through a roundabout and I tried to exit while Dave tried to continue through the roundabout. Unfortunately I was riding next to Dave on the inside so that parting of ways didn’t quite work. It all happened very fast but the result was that the racks on our bikes got tangled together and I came off my bike while Dave continued to ride with my bike attached to his. We weren’t going very fast but I ended up on the pavement on my left side – no cars around so that was good. I jumped up right away, as you do when the adrenaline is pumping and yelled at Dave to get my bike out of the road where he had left it to run over to see if I was ok.
Unfortunately when I stood up I could tell that there was a bit of a problem with my arm or shoulder. I refused to believe that it could be anything serious and after a minute to catch my breath tried to get back on to ride the remaining kilometer to our friends’ house. I straddled the bike and tried to get back on but the shock of pain in my shoulder when I tried to hold the handlebars meant it was not to be. We were so close to their house and it seemed silly to call an ambulance – I was breathing and everything – so I walked on the sidewalk while Dave rode, steering my bike alongside him. There weren’t too many people out but those that were gave us a few odd looks. Perhaps it was the blood running down my leg, but at that point I didn’t really care.
As I walked along holding my arm across my chest all I could think of was that this really couldn’t be happening. I have been riding my bike for 25 years and have never really crashed. And I have never broken a bone. We weren’t going fast at all, we’d just bumped bikes really.
We made it to our friends’ house and they drove us to the emergency room of a hospital very close by. I went through the triage area and was taken back into the ward for x-rays (and a shot of morphine). Good news was that the x-rays showed no damage to my knee where I had landed heavily (and which was swelling quickly), but the bad news was that the x-rays showed a break to the clavicle – aka the collar bone. The orthopedic doctor explained that the break was a distal break, meaning it was further toward the shoulder. In many collar bone breaks the usual approach is to put it in a sling and let it heal on its own but when the break is a distal break the approach is often to put a plate and screws in to ensure the bones remain in the right alignment and heal properly. So, the recommendation was surgery. Wow, talk about a change in plans….
So, into surgery. The orthopedic surgeon was quick to tell me this was the same injury that Lance Armstrong had and the same repair he had. Surgery went well – no ligament damage, which was good and the break was clean – also good. I spent the night in the hospital so they could monitor things and then they cut me loose to recover at home. We spent the first night at our friend s house but have now returned home to our apartment to try to sort things out. It’s a bit like camping out in the apartment as we have essentially packed everything up other than what we were taking with us so perhaps we can consider this as part of the adventure?
We have rebooked our tickets to the US for next week, when it should be safe to travel. I see the surgeon on Monday for a follow up and should get more information on recovery time. Apparently the bones heal in about 6 weeks but a heavy pack on a freshly healed bone is probably not a good idea so we will likely have to reschedule the hike for a few months. Hopefully once the bone heals we can get back on the bikes so we may start riding first and do the hike later in the year (perhaps springtime in WA?).
So, the adventure continues – not quite in the way we had planned but I guess that’s what adventures are all about.
Minor note – we checked my helmet and there was a nice crack through it. One more case to show that it is never a good idea to get on a bike without a helmet.