4th of July Ride Report – Lessons Learned

Oh. Hello there blogging world. It’s been a while. Yes, I’m writing my 4th of July ride report. It’s a bit late. I may ramble a bit on this one, because there’s a lot to process.

In the beginning….

The boyfriend had July 4th off, so we were debating the route we’d take for our morning ride. Seemed like the perfect time to try something new, since we had a full day of freedom, with no plans other than a party in the evening. Our choices were the Deer Creek Trail hill climb, in the SW part of town, which is a steep, 9 mile climb that you can do as an out and back, or you can make it a loop of about 36 miles with more climbing, for a total elevation gain of 3600 feet. The climbs on this route are all class 2 and class 1, and I was really looking forward to tackling that challenge, except the idea of riding on roads still has me a bit nervous. Our second option was to do a long ride with less climbing – 55 miles, with only 1000 feet of gain – by doing the C-470/Cherry Creek/Platte circle. Since we got up so early, (7:30!!) we decided to tackle that one. We were excited to get out and do this ride, and I was especially excited, because July 4th is a personal Big Deal Day for me. It was at boyfriend’s house last year, when we were just friends, on the 4th of July, I decided to make some changes. Those changes involved getting rid of a deadbeat boyfriend, and resulted in ending up with this wonderful guy as my partner in crime riding our bikes through life.

Lesson 1: Eat Breakfast before a big ride
I’m still learning which rides are big, which ones are easy, which ones need carb loading before-hand, and which ones I can do “unfueled” in order to access different fat burning power stores. Before E-Rock, I ate a whole wheat bagel with salmon and cream cheese, the perfect blend of fat, protein, and complex carbs, and that was a great amount of fuel, but my ride supplements lacked in the electrolyte department, since I felt really sick both that night and the next (which could have also been my iron pills.) Pre- and mid-ride fueling is a delicate balance – you need enough stored energy to power your way up hills, and the endurance to spin for long distances (being on the big ring on a long, flat straightway, pushing through around 25 mph for an hour is no joke.)

On this ride, I started out strong, but around the 17 mile mark, started losing power on the hills – hills I should have no trouble with, normally. My pre-ride fuel was a protein bar and a doppio caramel con panna, also known as a shot of espresso with whipped cream and caramel sauce drizzled on top. I should have gotten more complex carbs, because the sugar and caffeine were used right away, and the protein was more muscle protection than muscle power.

Midway refreshment, and my finger. You’d never know I actually have a photography degree.

Lesson 2: Shoulda Had a V8
Around the 30 mile mark, we stopped for a break and had some energy bars, refilled our water, and I bought a bottle of Spicy V8. That helped immensely. The salt and potassium in the V8 fueled the next part of the ride, and the veggies helped add some healthy calories. From that point in the ride, we were ON. We cruised along the Cherry Creek Trail, raising our average pace from 11.5 mph to 12.8 in a nice stretch of 20 miles.

Lesson 3: Toddlers in Front of you are More Erratic than they Appear
Our total ride length ended up looking like it would top out at 62, a metric century, thanks to a few detours along the way. Detours are what make the ride fun (when I’m not bonking, that is). Anyway, we knew the ride was going to top out above 60, and we were getting excited. As we cruised along the path heading to downtown Denver and REI for the trail exchange, boyfriend and I were both in the zone. The problem with getting closer to downtown, though, is that the trail gets infinitely busier. This ride had already been quite busy, from both the early morning cyclists in their packs, to the groups of pedestrians around 4 Mile Park enjoying the festival. At one point, a group of guys whizzed by the boyfriend and I (and we were going a decent rate at the time) with nary a warning call. Riding etiquette dictates that you call “Left” or “On your left” when passing people, so when we met up with these guys at a light, I (maybe not so gently) suggested that they use such etiquette in the future.

Anyway, as we were getting close to downtown, I started to slow down, as the path was getting busier. Most people were behaving, but it was crowded, so I was calling out “left” pretty frequently. As we neared the turnoff point at 14th and Little Raven, a family with a couple toddlers on bikes moved slowly along the trail ahead of us. I slowed, called out “on your left” and turned toward the left to pass them. Suddenly, one of the toddlers turned directly into my path. I slammed on my brakes, and as I watched my handlebars disappear from under me I thought “This won’t end well.”

There’s not supposed to be a blank spot in the middle of the scapula.

Lesson 4: It Takes All Kinds
Boyfriend saw the whole thing, as he was right behind me, but far enough behind that he wasn’t caught in the immediate stop. I sailed over the handlebars, and essentially jacknifed into the ground, hitting my chin, cheek, and left shoulder in a 3 point landing. I sat up, with blood pouring down my face, as boyfriend raced toward me, pulling out his phone to call 911.

The family of the toddler glanced over, saw the carnage, and kept going.

Others on the trail stopped, including an EMT and a couple riding a pair of high end Cannondales. The EMT helped get me stabilized and checked for breaks, neck injuries, and making sure I stayed alert, while another rider ran up to street level to flag down the ambulance. The couple with the Cannondales agreed to take our bikes up to REI to meet up with friends who agreed to pick them up. There were definitely some good people on the trail that day, despite the family of no-consequences.

There were jerks though. Someone, amid the noise and commotion, stole the boyfriend’s brand new Cannondale Teramo helmet that he’d worn all of twice. Thanks jerks!


My beloved Schoolgirl jersey from Twin Six.

To avoid making this too long and drawn out, the end result was far better than it could have been. At Denver Health’ Trauma Center, they cut off my jersey, did an MRI to detect fluid or air leaking from my lungs (none), did two CT scans for neck and shoulder injuries, and tried to do an X-ray. The neck was clear – no damage. My left shoulder blade, known as the scapula, is broken into multiple displaced parts, and will require surgery to reattach, reset the position, and allow full range of motion to return.

The time at Denver health was less than pleasant, but that’s for another story. Right now, the good news is that despite an endo onto concrete, and despite some run ins with less than awesome people, there are good people in the world, and I’m alive, and in a few months, I’ll be back on my bike again.

My friends have been amazing, from picking up our bikes, to bringing us clothes in the hospital, to doing laundry, taking me to appointments, to offering to just process over the phone from a distance. I am so warmed by the outpouring of love of people who are “just friends.” I truly believe the saying “Friends are the family you choose for yourself.”

Most of all though, I am so blessed to have the boyfriend. He is an angel. He was there at the accident, by my side until they loaded up the ambulance, rode up front in order to go with me to the hospital, and was by my side the entire afternoon and evening. He updated facebook for friends to have the info necessary, fielded texts and phone call updates, and then, when we got home, took days off work to help me. He fed me ice chips in the hospital, brought me water for my pills, cradled my head when helping me into bed, and gently held me as I cried because I can’t go ride the metric century we had planned for next weekend. I don’t recommend an injury like this to find out who your friends are, but I do, 100% recommend having people you can count on as your friends. My friends, and my boyfriend, are a true blessing, and I thank god for them, every single minute.


One thought on “4th of July Ride Report – Lessons Learned

  1. Statistically Speaking…. « Bikes, Books, and Blues

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