The memory is etched in my mind. It’s a story that I share with people when they ask about riding or is I ever crashed. Reflecting on what could have happened. What would my life have been if circumstances were different?
The exact date and day escape me but the time is still something that lingers in my mind. It was 6:00 am on a warm summer morning, 30 minutes after I woke. It was still my first week on the new bike, a Trek Performance Pro 1000. Blue, white and black. The type of racing bike the pros ride, hence the name. It was built for street riding and even racing if I had been in the right form to do so.
I was cruising down Madison Ave in Hoboken at a sweet clip. The odometer on my bike registered 18 mph. I hadn’t gone a full mile yet and I was already at a nice cruising speed. As I crossed 10th Street and Madison I heard a car coming behind me. There was a car traveling down the opposite side of the street. Approaching railroad tracks I tried moving towards my left to avoid the tracks and give myself some room but the car to my left had a different idea.
He wasn’t moving in accordance with me. He wasn’t giving me the extra room I needed basically because he was out of room himself with a car coming towards him. I looked left to see if there was room, there wasn’t. I tried moving slightly but that wasn’t happening. My head turned to focus back on the road.
The next thing I saw was the telephone pole. In an instant I felt my bike not moving in the direction my body was moving. Momentum carried me right, the pothole my tire was caught in was forcing the front wheel left. My body had left the bike. Still moving at 18 MPH, at the least, my body flew. Head first into the telephone pole, I struck the pole in an instant.
The only thing separating my head from the pole was the plastic Gyro Helmet secured to my head by two nylon belts. The sound of plastic on solid wood echoes in my nightmares. The sound comes back to me at random times. It wasn’t the sound of a slap but more the sound of a crash.
The right side of my head hit the pole. Later I would see the dent in the helmet and the crack that the force of the blow administered. People often say when the hit their head they see stars. I saw the entire Solar System. Stars, planets, moons, and then literally the sun as I rolled over.
My hands tremble now as I right this. My head and shoulders throb. I can still see it. I can still feel it. I have a picture proving some of the damage inflicted on my body.
As my head moved to the left from the force of the blow I heard another CRACK. My right shoulder connected with the telephone pole. Just as hard as my head hit, my shoulder hit as well. My shoulder stopped me from flying further onto the sidewalk. The force of the collision had also turned my body so that when I finally landed my ass hit the curb. Square on the curb!
I was unconscious but only for a moment. The accident forced me to blackout just for a minute. I knew that the car traveling alongside of me never stopped. After coming to, I crawled to me feet. Still seeing stars but now feeling lost. I was dizzy and disoriented. Lost on the same road only blocks from my apartment. I stumbled to my bike. Clicked off my helmet and felt the urge to vomit. It didn’t happen. I dry heaved multiple times. Still lost but knew I needed to get my bike. I stumbled further into the street and looked back at the pole. I flew at least 4 feet.
Finally I took off my helmet, leaned forward and tried puking again but nothing happened. The helmet dropped to the ground. I collapsed to my knees. I could see it now. The crack was at least 2 inches long and the dent was the size of a softball.
I climbed on the bike and tried to pedal. My first thought was to get back on the bike. Ride. Get your head clear. My legs were gone. I couldn’t pedal. I couldn’t move. I climbed off the bike. Picked up my helmet and grabbed a water bottle off of the bike.
After a few minutes of trying to regain myself I walked the bike back home. Arrived at my apartment and sat on the couch. I couldn’t carry the bike up any more stairs so I waited. Went into the bathroom to look at my head. My pupils were wide open. I couldn’t see the green of my eyes. Just black pupils and bloodshot white.
“Advil” I thought. Popped two advil. Walked upstairs and showered. Put on clothes and went downstairs to watch TV with ice on my head, hip and shoulder.
“Don’t fall asleep. If you have a concussion you could fall into a coma.” I told myself. So I sat there. Watching TV.