Lessons From the Asphalt – Part 2

Following on from my previous post, I’ve learned a few things in the post-crash recovery phase of the past few weeks. This post has a wound photo, so if you don’t want to see that, scroll up from the bottom to the ‘Keeping Focus’ subheading.

Healing Wounds

Despite the fracture, the most aggravating physical issue since the crash has been the healing of abrasions and lacerations. From Fixomull to Tegaderm, the internet is full of information about which product you should be applying. But what I’ve come to believe is that the science of wound management is pretty straightforward and you shouldn’t fret too much over specific products. We know that covering wounds and keeping them moist prevents scabs form forming, and this helps to prevent scarring.

You’re going to need something to disinfect (I use a betadine spray), some kind of dressing (which won’t stick to the wound), and something to hold the dressing in place. I also used a silicone dressing which sits directly on the wound for up to seven days while you change the dressings over it.


Some of my bank-breaking collection.

It’s also likely you’ll have to cut up and/or overlap some of the dressings to get sufficient coverage if you’ve got a lot of road rash. Bigger dressings are available, but they’re not commonly stocked by pharmacies.

At first I felt an urgent need to know how quickly my skin would heal, and it’s surprising how little a google search on the issue turns up. A friend told me it would take three weeks, and it looks like this is pretty much spot-on.

I’m going to show some before and after healing shots, in the name of cycling education. This might seem like over-sharing but it’s precisely the kind of information I tried to find after the accident, so I’m hoping it will be useful for someone.

One of my worst skin-loss zones was my right elbow. Here’s how it looked six days after impact, and then 17 days later:


Weird tan lines!

Itching has been a challenge, and I learned I can’t handle sedating antihistamines, which turn me into a twenty-four hour zombie.

By the way, the road rash justification for leg-shaving is well founded; after removing adhesive dressings all over my body, I’m open to arm shaving! Conversely, shaved skin is easier to apply adhesive dressings and tapes to.

Keeping Focus

Coming to terms with being forced off the bike was like going through the stages of grief. In denial, I even hatched a plan to complete the Festive 500, just riding up and down the dam wall at Sugarloaf Reservoir!

Once I’d come to terms with my fate I turned to a few things which could keep my mind focussed on returning to the bike. Following friends rides online was great, and I enjoyed some vicarious satisfaction as they racked up the kilometres. As much as I enjoy Strava, the clumsy roll-out of the new ride pages and the site’s inability to respond to user discussion influenced my decision to save $60 and downgrade to a free account. Contrastingly, the training site I use and pay for, Cycling Analytics, does everything you need for training, looks as good if not better, and has a single developer who responds promptly to your queries.

Trainer Rides and Cyclocross

On day five after meeting the asphalt, I was back on the trainer. There were a few hurdles in getting there: sweating abrasions under dressings weren’t all that helpful. The fracture was a non-issue except for the first time I pushed the shifter to change chainrings – that hurt!

Over the past year I’ve actually enjoyed all my time on the trainer thanks to the vast archive of documentaries, historic races, and current races at cyclingtorrents.nl I’ve downloaded and shared 100Gig of video over the past year from the site (actually my seed ratio is 1.84!). Jump on, if you haven’t already, it’s awesome.

When I saw the Cyclocross (CX) World Cup coming up in October I figured this was a good entry point to an aspect of cycling I’ve always intended to follow. The races are streamed live on the UCI’s youtube account, but I grab them from cyclingtorrents and scheduled them for my trainer rides. I was already watching these races before my accident, but following the World Cup since has contributed to keeping me motivated.

There are a couple of things the CX World Cup gets right. Having each stage combine a men’s and women’s event is a powerful example of how easily the gender disparities in pro-cycling could be tackled. Same stage, same course, same day. The women race first, and soon after their presentation ceremony the men start off. I’ve found myself becoming a fan of the Belgian rider Sanne Cant, probably through some underdog-supporting instinct, given the dominance of Katie Compton and Marianne Voss.


Marianne Voss, at the end of round 6, Rome.

The brevity and intensity of CX races makes them great to watch on the trainer. There’s something about the all-purpose combination of running, riding and obstacle hurdling – on bikes with essentially road geometry – which is incredibly fun. Of course it’s totally brutal too, and sometimes resembles trench fighting!:

Over the top

Over the top, round 5, Heusden-Zolder (BEL).

No mucking about in bunches, no avoiding effort, no closing down the efforts of others. Most often the rider who wins gets to the front as soon as they can and stays there. I reckon this could suit me …

So, who wants to get me a cyclocross bike? :)

Back in the Saddle

On January 9 I had a check up at the Austin which confirmed everything is healing quickly. Some range of motion issues linger as the bone heals, but it’s no impediment to turning the pedals over. The next day my bike was repaired and ready to go, and I took off from my LBS down Plenty Rd to Humevale:

First proper ride, 19 days after fracture: 63 km / 430 m.

First proper ride, 19 days after fracture: 63 km / 430 m.

So 19 days is what it took to be back in the saddle proper. The free-fall in form stops here.

Even better than the ride was having a proper shower for the first time in three weeks! There are a few thing I still can’t do – my arm is too weak to take the lateral force of left-lean on descending corners, but it shouldn’t be much longer.

Whither Blog?

So this chapter of my cycling life has basically concluded now. Writing these blog posts was one of the things that got me through it with a clear focus. I wasn’t sure I’d continue, but I found I enjoy it. So I’m going to keep going but I’ll probably make the posts that follow lighter and shorter.

I had some idea of writing about food, but Katrina and I have decided to make a separate food blog. I’ll link to it here when it’s up and running.

One thing I’ve missed out on through all this, is a bit of local star-spotting. I must be the only local roadie who hasn’t crossed paths with Cadel in the past couple of weeks. It seems he’s been training hard around the area in the lead up to the Nationals on Sunday. With our hills, how can he lose?

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