Summer, interrupted.

By Wendy Clinch •  Updated: 07/25/17 •  4 min read

Being a Ski Diva can be rough during the summer. Either you find something fun to do, or you end up with a long, dusty, wasteland of time to fill before the snow comes ’round again.

For me, it’s biking. Road biking. I like to get out on the roads of  Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. There are loads of beautiful routes to take, the scenery’s great, and frankly, it’s terrific exercise.

But this past week I did something that may very well have ended my biking for the rest of the summer: I had a nasty bike accident. I was riding downhill at a fairly high rate of speed when my front tire hit a rock and blew, sending me over the handlebars into the guardrail at the side of the road. The guardrail sliced my lower thigh like a meat cleaver, leaving a gaping laceration that measured 6 inches across and perhaps 3 inches from top to bottom. Let’s just say I got a good look of the interior of my leg.

Of course, we were in an area with zero cell service (yay, Vermont!), so we couldn’t reach 911. My husband managed to flag down a car, and a very nice couple transported me 12 miles to my doctor’s office. After that, I was sent by ambulance to the nearest hospital, where I had surgery to irrigate the wound, remove the gravel, and close it with both internal and external stitches.

The capper to all this: it was our wedding anniversary.

So am I a happy camper? No. As I write this, I’m still in considerable pain. I went a bit too easy with the pain meds at the beginning and I’m paying the price. (Yes, the opioid epidemic has me spooked.) But am I grateful that it wasn’t worse? You bet. I’m damn lucky that, aside from lacerating my patella tendon, all the other critical knee ligaments are intact, so it shouldn’t have any impact on my skiing.  And miracle of miracles, I didn’t break any bones, lose any teeth, or suffer a head injury (of course I was wearing a helmet). Sure, my summer fun will be significantly curtailed. But more importantly, I’m here, sitting with my leg elevated, pretty scabby and road rashy, but here, nonetheless.

All in all, I’ve been very fortunate. This is the first major accident I’ve ever had, which given my activity level and age, is pretty amazing. Not that it takes risky behavior to get hurt. I have a friend who broke her leg in three places just by stepping off a curb. And my mom tripped and fell on the boardwalk in New Jersey, breaking her femur. It seems that the only way to avoid an accident is not to move, and for me, that’s not an option.

Sure, there are things you can do to try to stay safe. For biking, I wear a bright yellow helmet, have a flashing light on my rear wheel strut, and remain as vigilant as possible to road conditions and vehicles. But hey, sometimes things happen. There’s only so much you can do.

Was my accident inevitable? Well, cycling does send more people to the ER than any other outdoor sport or activity. According to the Consumer Products Safety Division, bicycling accidents resulted in more than 541,746 ER trips in 2010. Basketball was second, with 528,584. Coming in at number 3, football with 489,676. Four: baseball and softball, with 282,008. And five: ATV’s, with 230,666 ER trips.

Curious about which sport is the most deadly? Here’s a neat little infographic I found that breaks it out:

Your Chances of Dying
Source: Best Health Degrees

At least I’m not hang gliding.

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