Vagabond in America 2016 travel blog

My son riding the Pump Track

My son on the Wallride

In downhill skiing, there's an important rule: "Never take one last run". If you think you have enough energy to ski down the mountain one more time, don't do it. That's when you're going to get hurt.

My son did a complete overhaul on my "fat bike": new chain, new gear cartridge, etc. On Sunday he returned my bike ready for another season. I needed to take a test run to ensure that everything was working and properly adjusted.

Since Sunday was the last full day of the Spring Spectacular at the campground, I decided to test my bike at their "pump track". This is the only campground that I've ever known to have its own pump track. For those that don't know, a pump track is a series of dirt berms and “rollers” (smooth dirt mounds) specially designed to practice mountain biking skills. I made three successful loops around the pump track, including the "wallride", a nearly vertical wall. (See photo.) I didn't attempt the gravity-defying trick of riding horizontally on the wallride but did jump onto it.

I also rode on their narrow, winding boardwalk, which is especially difficult for me, since I still have some vertigo as a result of my stroke.

At that point, I should have ridden back to my RV. It would have been a very effective test run. But, no, I decided to take "one more run". Everything was perfect. I made it over each of the berms with ease. Everything was fine up until the wallride. I hit the wallride at the wrong angle and my front wheel turned. Down I came; landing hard. After a quick body check, I concluded that nothing serious was broken but I was bleeding in multiple places.

My son had already safely returned to his home. I rode my bike alone back to my RV and used the outdoor shower to wash off most of the mud and blood. Then I moved to my indoor shower for a closer inspection. I had large sections of "road rash" (abrasions) on both arms, on my left leg, and on both hands. Well, at least I have evidence that I must have landed well, distributing my weight fairly evenly.

Another side effect of my stroke is that I'm now taking an anticoagulant to reduce the chances of another blood clot in my brain. The problem is that I now bleed much more than I used to. After washing my road rashes, I applied petroleum jelly to slow down the bleeding and covered the larger sections of road rash with gauze. I couldn't find any adhesive tape in my RV. I didn't have enough strength in my right hand to tear duct tape. My only remaining choice was scotch tape. (I'm still finishing up the stockpile of scotch tape that my late wife accumulated eight years ago!) The scotch tape wasn’t pretty but did prevent getting blood all over my RV.

Finally able to sit down, I did a full body inventory. Something is definitely wrong with my right hand. Also, if I press just below my ribs, there’s a sharp pain. Might have broken something in my wrist and/or might have cracked a rib.

Time for an emergency room visit? No. Nothing seems urgent. I’ll just sit here and rest.

After recovering for a while, I concluded that I had not broken any bones. I’ve had enough experience with cracked ribs and broken bones to be fairly confident of my self-diagnosis. To be safe, I assumed that I had a sprained wrist and a bruised rib.

I drove to the nearby pharmacy and bought a compression wrap and sling for my wrist. I also bought some adhesive tape and replenished my supply of gauze. If I had decided to go to the doctor, they wouldn’t have done much more than tape my wrist and put it in a sling anyway.

Fortunately, I can answer my email using only my left hand. And, being ambidextrous, I can write short notes, like my grocery list, with my left hand. Just slower than normal.

DAY 2:

Didn’t get much sleep last night but the bleeding has nearly stopped.

Today is Jump Day, when I move my RV to a new campground. Normally, I would have thoroughly cleaned my rig the day before in preparation for moving. But, I hadn’t been able to get much done. With my right hand in a sling, I secured everything inside the rig, placing left over items in a box rather than taking the time to deal with it properly.

Normally, it takes me about two hours to hook up. Today took four hours. It’s hard to hookup a fifth wheel trailer when you’re alone. It’s even harder to do it with just one hand. I did get help from a neighbor to lift my bike up onto its rack on the trailer. My bike is way too heavy for me to lift that high with one hand.

Driving to the next campground was easy. I rested my right hand on the center console which allowed me to use both hands whenever I absolutely needed to. Glad that I don’t have a standard transmission!

Unhooking at the next campground wasn’t too hard. I made the minimum necessary connections then rested for the remainder of the day. Sometimes being a couch potato is a good idea.

DAY 3:

Great news! I can now use the fingers of my right hand again. I can type normally! Woo hoo!

Bleeding has stopped. All but one of road rashes has scabbed properly. Almost back to normal.


It took about two weeks for the road rash to heal. My rib and wrist took a little longer. That's good evidence that I didn't break any bones, since, at my age, bones don't heal that fast.

My son has a saying, “If you come back from mountain biking and you’re not bleeding, you weren’t trying hard enough. If an ambulance is involved, you were trying too hard. I was a little too close to an ambulance ride this time.

Will I ride a pump track again? Absolutely! Will I try a wallride again? That would be a firm "no".

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