The First Major Crash

The joy of riding with friends, the struggle with climbing mountains, the sheer excitement as you descend a steep mountain road...

                                                    and the painful crash down that road if you aren't careful enough.

It's 10PM on a Friday night and I'm preparing my bike and my gear for the next morning's ride in Monrovia starting from Empire Bikes and going through the mountains and back. I text my friends Jordan and Chris, making sure that they're also definitely attending; they're already asleep.

5AM, my alarm rings, but I naturally hit the snooze and don't wake until 5:45. The shop is about 30 minutes away and the ride is scheduled to leave at 6:30AM. I throw on my kit and rush out the door with my (thankfully) already prepped things and throw it in the car.

I get to the shop just in time.

After paying the fee for the Ride For A Cure ride, a fundraiser to help support cancer research, all of the cyclists meet out front and saddle up. After a brief introduction and a few instructions from the ride leader, and we are on our way. My friends and I are screwing around a bit before we reach the foot of the mountain.

As we push through the morning going up and down hills and avoiding the speeding cars heading up to Crystal Lake, we reach the first regroup spot at a bridge. I wait for one of my buddies as the rest of the group leaves so that he doesn't get left behind. As soon as he catches up, we continue on the route to the next stop to get some water, and then start the more serious climbing on Glendora Ridge Road.

Since my friend Chris is still new to climbing, I would double-back to make sure that he is alright. This brother was in so much pain; he stated that he did a full workout of squats just two days prior, meaning his legs were still rebuilding muscle. I wanted to push him to keep going and not stop, but didn't want him to cramp up and not be able to finish, so we take it easy.

We eventually get to the peak and see where the descent would begin. I get as excited as a child who sees all of the presents under the tree on Christmas morning, and yell at Chris to hurry up. At this point, it's just the two of us, the tail end, and we begin our descent.

Now, if you haven't been on a ride with me before, understand that I LOVE descending. It's not because it's easy (cuz it's not), but it's the sheer speed I can gain just from going into a more aerodynamic position with the wind blowing in my face, hitting speeds up to 40-50mph.

As I'm descending, I try to corner harder and harder each time, getting lower and lower to the ground while still being in control of the bicycle. It was the most exhilarating feeling in the world because it shows how much I've improved as a cyclist in the last few years of riding. I look back to make sure that Chris is still close; I eventually lose him and pull over to wait for him to catch up. 

I see him again and I hop back on the bike, shouting at him to keep going.

I get back into descending mode and eventually pass Chris again, getting back into the rhythm of fast speeds and hard cornering all the way down to the bottom of the mountain...

Then I see it.

It's too late. There's a slight turn coming up and I'm already pumping the brakes gently to slow down into the turn. Suddenly a loose patch of gravel appears and I see it too late. I hit the brakes a little harder to slow myself down more but it proves to be useless. The bike slips out from underneath me as I start falling down with my left shoulder first. I slam the ground with my shoulder, followed by the back of my head. I see the bike launch forward, flipping into the air, hitting the ground, and then flipping again and sliding away from me. While that happens, I also lunge forward and end up on my right arm, leg, and buttocks as I slide about fifteen feet down the graveled road.

I stop. I can't breathe. I scream for air.

I end up holding myself up with my arms, sitting on my legs as I fight for air. A few riders and motorcyclists stop for me to make sure that I'm alright. They ask if I need an ambulance and I decline. Who wants to pay those bills anyway? Not me. I'm not THAT injured. I check myself real quick to make sure I didn't break any bones and luckily enough, I'm okay. Another cyclist who was behind me checks to make sure that I'm not heavily concussed and eventually goes on his way. Chris calls my friend Jordan at the shop to have him come pick us up. While Chris waits with me, I pick off the gravel stuck in my wounds and wash the largest abrasions off with whatever water I have left with me.

Jordan eventually arrives and scrapes me off the ground, covering up the giant wound on my right arm so that I don't bleed all over the car as he takes me back to the shop. Thinking that I am feeling okay, I tell both of my friends that I will be okay to drive back to LA...but eventually get so dizzy that I ask Chris to take me instead.

As soon as I get back to LA, I get myself to the ER with the help of Chris, my cousin, and my mom, and get treated in the ER. After the painful wound "irrigation" and bandaging, the doc performs a CT scan to check my brain for any damage. They said that no other serious damage was done and that all I had was a concussion. Once they write my prescription for some pain killers, they discharge me and let me go home.

The last couple of days have been pretty painful, but hopefully I'll be back on a bicycle by next week so I can start riding again. Do I have any regrets? No. I had so much fun that day that I will probably go out and do it again soon. I did learn one thing though: don't be overconfident on roads you've never ridden on before. Take it easy the first time, then smash the hell out of it.

Oh, you want to see some photos? Sure thing! (NSFW)