Tough Like You
Tough Like You
One of the inspirations for writing this book was sparked by an incident that occurred a few years ago. While skating at Wilson Skate Park in Chicago, located about a yard away from a bike path that spans the entire lakefront, I witnessed a touring cyclist take a bad fall. The intersection near the park is just wrong. Cars exiting a busy Lake Shore Drive have a stop sign at the very same place the bike path crosses the intersection. Cyclists and runners usually play "who's first?" as turning cars and bikes visibly converge. The cyclists move fast. Cars slowly beginning their turn do not notice speeding bikes approaching in time. They either stop or speed up to avoid being an obstacle. Many times the skateboarders and BMX riders at the park hear tires screeching and look toward the corner only to see a car stopped, a bike on the ground, and a person either cursing at the driver or lying on the ground after avoiding a collision. Worst-case scenario: cyclists will slam into the side of the cars. The very worst part of this whole intersection is that for years there was coarse gravel that covered the area where the bike path meets the street. It is probably one of the most poorly thought out plans ever.
This particular time, the park was relatively empty but it was still a beautiful, sunny morning. As I was cruising around, I heard that familiar sound "Screeeeeeech!" I looked over and saw a woman on the ground a few feet before the entrance into the street crossing. It was clear that she was cut off, had to brake hard and slid on the gravel to avoid running into the vehicle. The driver had stopped, leaned over her, and asked those famous words heard in my world way too often: "Are you okay?" I knew I had some Band-Aid's and other materials in my bag so I decided to go over.
When I got there, it was obvious from her build, bike, and gear that she rode often. I told her I was skateboarder for years, knew injuries, and asked what was hurt. As I suspected, she had slid on the gravel, lost control of the bike, and got the gift of a nasty knee scrape.
What surprised me was how little she actually knew about what had just happened to her knee. She had some surface damage and I tried to let her know (as tactfully as possible) that she scraped it up pretty badly but it was all skin and she would be all right. She had full mobility of her knee and although it might swell up a bit later, she was basically fine. Her bike suffered no damage. Ironically, those types of skin abrasions really hurt like shit! Skaters and BMX riders know the feeling of losing your palms. There have been times when I have taken large, thick layers off the palms of my hands with gravel embedded too! It really does feel like there's more going on.
During the fall, several pieces of gravel had embedded into the surface of her skin. As she called her husband to take her to the hospital, I told her I would clean the wound and apply one of my super cool cloth Band-Aids. I even had some extra large ones that would easily cover her knee wound. She agreed and I rinsed her knee with fresh bottled water while brushing any gravel away. The woman was obviously in pain and would not get up or walk around. I think people have misinterpreted the "don't move the injured" concept. She was determined to go to the hospital which is a perfectly smart thing to do if you really think you need a diagnosis of your injury but a real bummer when you can take a break and ride it out.
The most interesting part of this whole incident was that after I cleaned her knee, she was convinced that there were pebbles in between the skin and her patella. I assured her that there wasn't. I knew that feeling. Falling very hard into the gravel leaves ghost sensations that something is still there. Again, I let her know the gravel didn't find its wa