Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crashing at 60kph

So here I am, a little worse for wear, but still alive. I have stitches on both sides of my head, bruises all along my left arm and left leg. My left side looks like a big cat used it for a scratching post. Probably the worst injury is my left palm, its fleshy part ripped to shreds, and now held together by surgical thread. I suppose you've seen the pictures already, so you already know.

If it sounds bad, that's because it is. But I'm still around, still intact, no less pogi than I was before (which isn't saying much), so I can laugh about the whole thing now. And, of course, I'd like to thank all those who sent their well wishes while I was confined in the hospital.

So, what did happen last Sunday? I was cruising downhill on a hard-packed dirt road in Samal Island when I lost the brakes on my mountain bike. I overtook two of my friends, one of whom was travelling at 45kph. That put my speed at around 60kph.

Did I intentionally go on this suicide run? No. My friends and I were enroute to Canibad, a town in Samal. The road had gone uphill for most of the way. When the path finally dipped, I thought it was one of those gently rolling sections common in most country roads. I felt relieved that I could let gravity take over for a while before hitting another uphill slope.

Apparently I was wrong. The slope just kept going and going and going.

By the time I realized there wouldn't be any uphill grade to slow me down, I was already going very fast. I tapped on my rear brakes, but I wasn't getting a response from the bike. I sped past my friend who was half a kilometer ahead of me just a few seconds before.

"No brakes! No brakes!" I shouted ahead to another friend up ahead. I hoped to God I wouldn't hit him. I missed him by just a few inches as I passed his left.

I don't quite recall what happened next. Did my bike wobble? Did I hit a rock? Or a hole? I don't know. All I knew was that I was flying forward and rolling on the ground. My left hand and my head hurt terribly.

I tried to get up. My vision was a blur as I had lost my glasses. My helmet was off-kilter. I held up my left hand, and I saw that my palm had turned to hamburger. I glanced at my shorts and they were spotted with blood.

"Lie down! Lie down" my biking companion said. He took off my helmet and tried to set me on my back.

"Wait! My backpack!" I said. Only when I had slipped out of it did I lie down. My other friends who had gone on ahead came back. Someone slipped my bike helmet under my head.

I performed a quick self-diagnostic. I wiggled my toes. So far so good. That meant no spinal injury.

(to be continued...)