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Thread: Skull fracture.

  1. #1
    HOV
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    Skull fracture.

    Imagine the force it takes to drive a nail into a piece of wood with a hammer; that's about the force with which my head hit the pointy rock - directly on my ocular orbit. I'll tell you about the aftermath, but you have to read the story first.

    Location: Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia. The day started clear and brilliant and we had the place all to ourselves. The mountain air was sharp and clean, the inverse of the hot smog we had been breathing in Northern Virginia for weeks prior. Felt amazing.

    We got to the rental shop first thing in the morning. I chose a Specialized Demo 8, it didn't seem to be too beat up. But when I threw a leg over, it felt like I was riding my daughter's bike (she's 5). Small, cramped, hunched over, awkward. I figured it was due to me being used to riding an XC bike, I just had to get used to the new position and geometry. Rode it around for a while and accepted it with reluctance.

    There were a few significant "firsts" to describe the situation, discretion was advised. We took it slow for the first half of the day, did some green runs to get used to the bike. The travel was nice and plush, the handling almost dirtbike-like. Didn't feel great to be so far hunched over but I started understanding better the body position required for proper handling of the bike. Moved up to some blue runs, nice tailored berms with great flow. No incidents and a good amount of hauling ass.

    After lunch we decided to scout some black diamond trails. We were well accustomed to rocky/rooty stuff from our normal cross-country riding in Virginia so we figured we'd be okay.

    That was not the case.

    The trail was a meat grinder, nothing but pumpkin-sized, sharp rocks everywhere (I'm talking about the kind of pumpkins people grow to set records). There were no good lines to take, too much visual data to process. This trail was beyond my experience and capability. My attention kept being diverted from looking well ahead to what was immediately in front of the wheel. I let gravity take hold and tried to control speed with the brakes, I tried to be smart about it, I tried to float over the rocks.

    My front wheel slid down a rock with an awkward off-camber hook at the end, then my rear wheel hit another one and the bike torqued out from under me. I went down hard in the meat grinder. It started with a slide down some rocks, each one taking a little souvenir from me... then BAM. Mike Tyson ham fist to the melon. I lay there for a few moments, conscious, exploding pain my head, trying to assess the damage.

    My riding partner saw me go down, saw me lying there all crumpled up. He shouted "are you okay?", I didn't respond.

    But here's the thing: I'm an older rider of all things two-wheeled. I've lost my share of blood on the trail. What I learned by riding a motorcycle and knowing friends who lost their lives: all gear all the time. So even on a bicycle, even on my regular XC rides, I wear gloves, helmet, knee/shin pads, elbow/forearm pads, and padded undershorts that provide hip protection.

    That day on Snowshoe Mountain I was wearing all that plus a chest protector and a full face helmet. I hit that rock directly underneath where a normal bike helmet would protect, and that impact would have shattered the orbit of my eye. Yes folks, a full skull fracture and most likely some reconstructive surgery to follow. Short term disability, never look the same, pain for a long time to follow, all the stuff that goes with that kind of injury.

    That helmet saved my bacon. I saw that IT actually took a bite out of the ROCK as I got up and cleared my head. My other pads also lost some material to the rocks - but the only injury I received were two minor scrapes on my arm, directly in the gaps of pad coverage.

    Bicycling bretheren, I write this ride report at my work desk instead of from a post-op hospital room thanks to proper gear. All gear all the time. The DH folks did seem to take gear pretty seriously, but I see a lot of dangerous habits on my usual XC runs. Shred on your ride, don't let the ride shred you.

    For those who care:

    Helmet: Fox Rampage
    Goggles: Smith Optics
    Elbow/forearm: 661 race (hardshell, white)
    Knee/shin: 661 race (same as above)
    Padded undershorts: Sette, modified with extra padding around hip

    A pre-ride pic:


    DH by Locuscope, on Flickr

  2. #2
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    Glad to hear your ok mate, sounds bloody nasty! You can never be too safe.

    See what you mean about the bike, looks tiny next to you lol

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    Glad to hear you are ok. Stories like these always give me the chills. I'm still shocked that people choose not to wear helmets. In fact,I just ordered a Giro Feature this morning because I realized I want something with more protection.

    That bike looks like a 24" next to you in that pic.

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    Glad you're okay! I took a fall this past Sunday on my 3rd bike ride and it put me out pretty bad. I'm not taking anymore chances so I just bought some protective gear last night.

  5. #5
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    happy you are okay, upset i was tricked.

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    Cool story bro!

    Was the helmet damaged, where exactly did the helmet take the hit?

  7. #7
    HOV
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    Yea, helmet has damage right near the face opening in a spot where a regular open face helmet would not have covered.

    I am retiring the lid due to the impact and damage. 661 Comp shifted in the mail!

  8. #8
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    Good to hear about your gear. Check out POC hip 2, save my hips plenty.

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