Falling off bike incident No. 1

By the time I started cycling in 1982 I had fallen off my bicycle countless times. The first string of bike falling off incidents was in 1969, when Santa brought me and my brother a couple of gold-and-white bikes. Ian fell off a couple of times and then got the hang of it, zooming around the dirt patch that was called, for unclear reasons, “the front lawn” and that was, for murkier reasons still, regularly mowed. Dirt and rocks flew everywhere and it was always exciting.

My bike was too big and I was too uncoordinated and fraidy and so I spent the first day falling off the bicycle, crying, being jeered at by my brother, and finally having my dad give up and leave me to my own solution, which was to put the training wheels back on. They came off a few months later and I fell off a lot more before learning to ride it which was better than anything that would ever happen to me the rest of my life.

When we moved to Houston I fell off my bike a bunch. 1972 was the beginning of the BMX craze and since we didn’t have BMX bikes, no one did, we bought some BMX handlebars and zoomed around with the banana seats cranked as low as they would go. I fell off most times I tried to jump for the same reasons I fell off from 2011-2014 when I tried to race cyclocross: I was so afraid of falling off my bike that I went too slow and fell off my bike.

As a young road cyclist I fell off my bike a fair amount but only once on the road. The other bike falling off incidents were in races. Although my peers voted me “most likely to die” in 1983 due to my bad bicycle handling skills, I didn’t. Since then I have fallen off my bicycle many times, most recently in The Great NPR Fredfest Crashemup of 2013, when I fell on my head at about 40 mph. Thankfully the bike was okay, as they say.

But my youngest son has never really fallen off a bike, which is a fancy way of saying he hasn’t ridden one very much. Then today as I was preparing to go meet a client I got a phone call. “Hi, this is Sarah, I’m a friend of Woodrow’s, he had an accident riding to work and the ambulance is on its way.”

I raced over to the scene. He was in the middle of the pavement and strapped to a body board. There are a lot of things in life you don’t want to see, and your injured child is at the top of the list. He was wincing and in obvious pain. “Looks like he broke his arm and maybe his ankle,” said the EMS guy. They gave him a shot of morphine and took him to UCLA Harbor.

The x-rays showed no fractures. He had fallen off his bike descending Via Coronel at about 25 mph. The bike started getting away from him and he granched down on the front brake, slamming down on his left side. His helmet was unscathed and his bike was mostly okay. “I’m really sorry, Dad,” he said in the hospital.

“Sorry? Don’t be sorry. I’m glad you’re okay. We have insurance, you know.” FYI, the ambulance ride to UCLA Harbor costs $9k whether it’s for a scratch or for thirty gunshot wounds.

They bandaged his ankle and sent him home. We talked about it on the way back, about how usually when you fall off your bicycle you move over to the curb when you’re able and do a general check before calling EMS unless something’s obviously broken or you’re obviously really hurt. And we talked about how most of the time you’re not really hurt, although it’s always frightening. When I was a kid I never saw anyone hauled off in an ambulance after falling off his bike. When you broke something you went home and your mom or dad drove you to the ER.

But times have changed, and my kids didn’t grow up falling off their bicycles, getting beaten up by thuggish street hoodlums, getting pounded on the playground, or even playing that most American of elementary schoolyard games, “Kill the man with the ball.” Needless to say, P.E. in their junior high schools didn’t include flag football where you “accidentally” tackled the runner while grabbing for his flag. and slamming him face-first to the sod. Every single time.

When you’re not always getting hurt or playing rough and violent games or falling off your bicycle, it’s hard to know the difference between a real injury and the pain of, well, pain.

On the whole, though, I suppose the new way is better, at least until I see the Anthem-Blue Cross E.O.B.



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39 thoughts on “Falling off bike incident No. 1”

  1. Wow, Seth. So sorry to hear about Woodrow’s run in with the pavement. More importantly, I’m glad to hear he’s okay! Sounds like a chip of the old Wanker. It’s just like kids to apologize for something like this, isn’t it? My youngest tried to uproot a fairly large tree about 7 years ago by slamming into it in my pickup truck. Her first words to me, when I met the ambulance at the hospital, were, “I’m sorry.” I remember how my eyes tried to unleash a torrent of tears because I was just so damn glad to hear her speaking.

    Fast healing!

  2. Glad Woodrow is ok…You should be prepared to not be ok when you find out that 9k ambulance ride isn’t covered by Anthem BC…Course I wouldn’t know anything about that.

    1. “You didn’t get approval for the visit and it wasn’t life threatening” benefits denial is the EOB.

      I’m glad it was not worse.

  3. So glad Woodrow is fine! My trip with Bobby to Harbor-UCLA after a falling off a bike incident lasted six days in ICU with five of them waiting for him to remember who he was much less who I was. Scariest five days of my life! Funny, he never apologized.

  4. The young ‘uns heal so dammed quickly. Mr. W will be fine soon (whew). He’ll still be sorry.

    Noticed your error, about the 9K. You of course meant that with 9K one can PURCHASE an ambulance to go to Harbor-UCLA. And with that you can offer free rides to your subscribers who crash. Nice perk!

  5. When a car made me fall off my bicycle, I refused an ambulance ride to the nearest ER because I wasn’t in the mood to pay $15/gallon for gas. Apparently, taking the ambulance could have helped my case. Anyway, at least I made the right choice when it came to my attorneys. Thanks, Seth!

    Glad to read your son is well.

  6. My emt ride 2014, Wilmington to San Pedro. Anthem does not pay
    But it was only……$1500 . Hope 9k was a guesstimation. Glad your son
    is ok. Youth equals strong bones and fast healing.

    1. The fear of an ambulance ride is helping me get over my fear of Kaiser. My pal Dan crashed on the Montrose Ride (two broken wrists and clavicle). I was SHOCKED to learn the ambulance ride was fully covered. HMOs, oh, how you’ve changed.

      1. Throughout my working career I paid for PPO’s, being afraid of poor quality qne poor service in HMO’s. When I retired I relented and went with Kasier HMO. Only to find that the PPO’s all those years were a waste of money. Kaiser is the best!

  7. Crashed my MTB bike last week. I reluctantly went to the ER because the mother of my 2y/o and 3mo/o told me I had to. I knew I had a separated shoulder and broken ribs and there is nothing to do for them…been there done that! After a 6.5 hour wait, the doc said…”you have a separated shoulder and one broken rib…there is not much we can do for you, her’s the $5K bill! I told him there was more than one rib broken and he said know there isn’t. The next day the radiologist review the x-rays…5 broken ribs. I am sending the ER doctor my bill!

    More importantly, I am glad your son is OK Seth. I can’t imagine seeing my son on a stretcher.

  8. Next time call an Uber!
    Glad to hear no serious injuries but seriously…how’s the bike??

  9. Anthem? I feel sorry for you and your wallet. Been there, done that. ACA open enrollment is just around the corner. Run away from Anthem while you can!

  10. Broken femur on PV (11 years ago) and a four mile ambulance ride was $990. $250/mile would make Uber drivers drool. Fully covered by Kasier HMO. Still with them today. All unimportant.

    Very important: Woodrow (aka Wanker Junior) is fine and going to get up and mobile shortly. So glad to hear he is fine and that you didn’t have a heart attack worrrying before you got there.

  11. I loved this part….

    “But times have changed, and my kids didn’t grow up falling off their bicycles, getting beaten up by thuggish street hoodlums, getting pounded on the playground, or even playing that most American of elementary schoolyard games, “Kill the man with the ball.” Needless to say, P.E. in their junior high schools didn’t include flag football where you “accidentally” tackled the runner while grabbing for his flag. and slamming him face-first to the sod. Every single time.”

    Out in Canoga Park, we played “Kill the man.” …didn’t need no stinking ball….regular jump-ins/muggings among friends was the norm, with enemies, well, sometimes you got cut…..however, the rest of this paragraph reads like you were in my junior high school with me.

    Please give Woodrow my best, even though he is going to be a pinko like his pops…..

  12. Glad Woodrow is okay. I’ve never been in an ambulance but I was taken to UCLA ER in a helicopter when I endoed on Westridge. And when Linda found me lying down in a pool of blood, I apologized. (That helicopter ride was miserable and they lost one of my favorite socks and one of my favorite arm warmers.)

  13. I know what you’re chewing on.

    My little racer crashed for the first time in an Ontario crit last spring. A good-old-fashioned wipeout exiting the first corner, that fast left-hander.

    He was unscathed but had a dirty elbow where he had landed in the dirt to the right of the road after turn one. Grass stickers were in his socks. He says he was trying to figure out how the fee lap rule worked – do you ride backwards to the finish? Cut the course? Ride a lap and wait at the line?

    But instead, witnesses came to his rescue, took his bike from him and called for the emt. In the emt tent, with all kinds of people watching and snapping pics, and under pressure from the emt to say “where it hurt the worst”, he volunteered “my arm?”

    And next thing you know he’s in a sling.

    And on the way home, when your kid’s in a sling, you think well, might as well run him to the doctor and, of course there was no discernible injury, but, what doctor doesn’t prescribe a month of careful rest just in case?

    Which translated to a few days in the sling, getting to display a hero badge at school, but then it disappeared.

    Which was good because it was hard to skateboard to school with a twenty-five pound backpack with your arm in a sling.

  14. One more thing: morphine? I’ve had morphine post-surgery and post-bone-fracture, but only under an MD’s instructions. I know I was basically sent back to the sixties by it’s above-the-neck impact and was rendered useless to communicate. Was he really given morphine right there in the road?

  15. Reminds me of my 7 mile ride back home on a broken wrist because “’tis only a scratch!/Eh, I can ride back on it! ” mindset. He’ll learn from the experience as we all do when we go down at some point and thats the most you can hope for when these type of things that happen to your kids.

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