Crashing at 47.1mph – Pretty Bad Luck

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Yesterday wasn’t a great day for me. I crashed descending the TT course at Joe Martin and separated my shoulder pretty good. It was shitty luck.

It is funny, I was sitting at the car 30 minutes after I fell, getting patched up by a park ranger, and thought about how strange your mind deals with things such as stress and pain. One minute, I wasn’t really looking forward to riding, yet alone racing, up the 2.5 mile climb and the next minute, when I can’t race, I am thinking how nice it would be to race up the 2.5 mile climb. I have no idea why that is.

The day didn’t start out so bad. We got to the course a couple hours early. There was a break in the schedule before the PRO women went, so I got dressed quickly and headed up the hill. The course was slower than some of the previous years I’ve done it, with it being headwind towards the top. I rode the TT, with no warmup, but a little faster than training pace in 10:13, according my Strava download. That gave me some confidence, knowing I was going to take a significant amount of time off that racing.

Anyway, I rode 10 miles out past the TT finish and turned around. When I got to the TT course, it is all downhill to the car. The women were racing, but the course is open to descend. I just kept going downhill. It is pretty fast, somewhere in the upper 40’s without totally railing the descent. About 2/3 the way down, I was tucked, with my hands by the stem and I started into a left hand corner. I was going pretty fast.

I knew something wasn’t right immediately. My mind registered that I was at the wrong angle. I realized I was falling, but didn’t have a clue why. Somehow, I got my left foot out of the pedal and was tripoding for a bit. I was pretty proud of myself for what seemed like a few seconds, but probably was more like a fraction of a second. Then, I was tumbling down the road and ended up in the outside ditch.

I had just passed a woman that had finished the TT and she stopped and asked me if I was okay. I was pretty dazed. I told her I was fine, but didn’t really know. I’d hit my head pretty good, but remember about everything. Soon, a truck comes down the road and some guy gets out and said he was up around the corner and heard the crash. I think he was wearing an uniform, but I’m not sure about that. He asked me what happened and I reply that a squirrel ran out in front of me and I swerved and fell. I have no idea where that came from.

He says that he should give me a ride down the hill and I tell him I’m okay. But, at that point, I knew that wasn’t true. My left shoulder was handing about an inch low and was started to throb.

I was checking my wheels to make sure I could get down and my front tire was virtually flat. It had about 10 psi in it. So that explained it. It made me feel better, but not much. If I would have been riding my race wheels with tubulars, I bet I wouldn’t have fell. You can corner pretty well on a flat sewup, but not at all on a clincher. Anyway, what are the chances that would happen at the fastest section of the ride when I don’t have my hands in good postion? I’ve never flatted before in a corner on a descent. Guess it is about time.

Anyway, I got back to the van and told Bill. He wanted me to head off to the hospital, but I told him I was in no rush. They weren’t going to do anything anyway.

So, after the race finished, I went to the hospital. It was a slow and frustrating process as always. I’d give the hospital staff a rating of 3.5 on a 1 to 10 scale for competency and efficiency. I really didn’t ever know what person the doctor was. He never introduced himself and never got with in 5 feet of me. I told him a few times that my shoulder hurt and that my neck was tweeked, but when it was all said and done, they never even addressed my neck. And never cleaned anything. It was pretty much, put in a IV, inject a pain killer, take an x-ray and out.

I have a cat 4 separation of my left shoulder. I haven’t had time to read up on it much, but the guy (doctor) said it was separated 2.5 centimeters and won’t heal itself and needs surgery. I don’t know about that.

I spent an hour in the tub trying to scrub my wounds. That wasn’t a fun experience. I’m usually pretty against other people dealing with road rash, but in this instance, I would have appreciated them just doing it at the hospital. I think that maybe the staff there thought I didn’t have insurance or something, even though I told them at check-in I did. I’m not sure why it was such bad care because the place was pretty empty.

Anyway, that private jet flight from Dallas to La Jolla this afternoon is looking pretty good right now. Too bad I don’t have the energy to do the 300 mile drive to get down there. I think I’m going to just hang here for the weekend. I don’t have much else to do right now. I did get an prescription for Perocet. I wouldn’t have slept a minute last night without that.

I’m usually don’t stress much about these things. It is all part of the sport. But I would have rather just broken my collarbone if I had a choice. These shoulder things are a drag. Plus, for some reason, this one is incredible painful. Okay, I think I’ll go back to bed and try to add to the 3 hours of sleep I got last night.

I took this picture off the computer monitor. I'm not sure what I'm to look for that is important here, but it doesn't look so good.

A little racy. This is how I came back from the hospital. I wasn't too ripped up considering, other than my butt is not good also.

I grabbed this off my Strava download. I was going 47.1 mph when it drops to 0 mph. Pretty shitty luck.

29 thoughts on “Crashing at 47.1mph – Pretty Bad Luck

  1. Calvin Jones

    That’s a drag. There is a related subject at
    It is a suggested protocol to quickly screen potential head injuries. However, I am not quite convinced a competitor will be willing to answer the 7 questions in the heat of the race. Most of us have seen cases where something like this was needed. However, in a practical application, I am not sure it will work as intended:

    1-Can you tell me how you crashed?
    2- What city is this?
    3- What lap or stage are you in?
    4- How far are you from the finish?
    5- Was there a break in the race?
    6- What’s in the pockets of your jersey?
    7- Can you name the months of the year backwards, starting with December?

    Obviously DH will require a completely different set of questions with appropriate syntax.

  2. Chris Gruver

    Oh, man, sorry to hear this. I was once surprised by a low clincher in a corner in Houston and also went down very quickly. Felt like I hit ice with the front wheel with no warning. Same situation- just enough air to ride. I hope you heal quickly.

  3. Rad Renner

    I’m not a docter, Steve, but I’ve separated my shoulder(s) a few times and I’d say your separation looks pretty severe. I would def. let your local doc/orthopedic examine your shoulder re: the potential for surgery. In the long run, you might be happier with getting it surgically repaired (and your shoulder working correctly) rather that dealing with chronic shoulder issues (like I do) for years and years.

  4. Mark Culp

    Man…. So sorry that happened. We’re on the way up there this afternoon. The ER doc was right. Class 4 shoulder separation will NOT heal without surgery and not having a repair will eventually lead to atrophy of the ligaments and tendons within the joint. Not sure where you live…. John Conway in Ft Worth is an excellent surgeon who works with TCU and the Tx Rangers…. I’ve worked with him before and he also is a cyclist. He be a good guy to see if it’s convenient for you. Unfortunately, not all orthopedic surgeons are good at shoulders….. You need to ask around and be certain that they’re the best in the area. This is a must, or you’ll be sorry.

  5. Sam Walters

    That x-ray reveals a severe should injury that in all likelihood can’t be resolved by time and PT. Those 2 bones on the right side should be together. They won’t heal like a broken bone will. Connective tissue has been seriously torn.

    I’ve been through this. Crash from front flat at 30, then rolled into path of car which rolled over my shoulder – miraculously not my head or torso. PT failed and over a year later I had surgery.

    Now I have 98% use of my shoulder, when with best result from the PT, I would have attained about 65%. My tearing was so bad that they had to use tissue from a cadaver to tie the collar bone back to the top of the shoulder blade.

    Like other guy said you don’t want to deal with the compromised shoulder for life or have to get the surgery over a year later.

    With that injury, this cycling season is down the tubes, but the sooner you are repaired the better.

    Sorry this happened to you.

    Sam W
    Columbia, MD

    PS – know the hill, did the race in 85 & 86 before I moved from MS to MD

  6. James B

    Sorry about the accident Steve. I took a pretty hard fall racing the track about 10 years ago. I suffered a class 4 sepeation. I Chose to not have it repaired and I suffer little to no side affects. It took me a while to get to where I am now, but I can do push-ups, pull-ups, throw a ball, swing a hammer, it never sets me back. Feel free to contact me if you want more information.

  7. SB

    As long as you’re reading WebMD, also read up on post-concussion syndrome. Even if you feel ok right after the crash, you could still have bleeding inside your skull.

    After a pretty minor crash earlier this year, a week later I was having serious balance / dizziness problems.

    Do not mess around with head injuries.

  8. ian

    i know what you mean about the hospital, when i wrecked in herman last weekend the er doc didnt seem to want to get close and just asked me the same questions 3-4 times. they didnt even clean my open wounds. anyway, get well soon.

  9. skibby

    Did the same thing Feb 18. going downhill at 43 mph, broke scapula in two places, 9 ribs, punctured lung, concussion. I raced two months later at Battenkill. Lantern Rouge in Cat 3’s but I finished…. you’ll be back, take care man.

  10. Ken

    From that radiograph you can’t really tell whether it is truly a Type 4 or 5 shoulder separation. Go see a good orthopedist to have it evaluated.
    Cyclists should be put together like dogs–no collarbone.

  11. Greg

    Get it fixed with surgery. I had Category 5 seperation 8 years ago and waited 3 months for have it fixed. The first doc I went to told me it looked worse than it was because I was thin. I finally had surgery when I saw a doc that knew what he was looking at. Find a shoulder doc and get it fixed. I raced 1 month after surgery.

  12. Meredith

    I walked into an ER after a crash. They thought I might just be drug seeking. I broke my radius in 8 places…ya, I was drug seeking! Anyhow, I got it surgically fixed in a week and was back on the trainer the next week. still taking drugs mind you for about a month. that was no picnic, but at least back on the trainer. And then on the road in a month. Surgery good. btw nice physique

  13. Thomas Prehn

    Steve.. man… really sorry to hear this… really sucks. After all these years… knock on wood… the danger we put our selves in all the time without thinking about it! And you know…just yesterday screaming down one of the canyons …leaning into a corner…”if I had a sudden flat on this front clencher…it wouldn’t be good.”….

    Hope your doing much better real soon.

  14. Mike Rodose

    Steve…get it surgically repaired. Sooner the better!

    Then do what the pro footballers do. Use blood transfusions, epo and hgh to speed your recovery.

    And carrot juice and big nexcare bandages.

    And less ass snapshots.

  15. Gary Crandall

    Bummer man – that was some pretty bad news to hear in our cycling community – all our best from Chequamegonland – heal well and soon.

  16. Greg cummins

    Steve, call me when you get time. I’m on call and rounding in the hospital tomorrow, Sunday. we have one of the best shoulder guys in the nation right here at north Kansas city, Craig satterlee. He loves bikers, as all shoulders guys do. We give then lots of business. Call my cell, I’ll get you his number. 816-510-1212. In the meantime, sling it, nonsteroidals, as needed narcs and time.lb53

  17. Pingback: Tilford’s Crash

  18. Nancy Martin


    Thanks for the photo! Glad you see you are on the mend. As always great to see you. You did say some pretty weird stuff that day but I give you a pass. I admire your persistence. Keep cycling so I can say I am not too old to know a cyclist.


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