Friday afternoon, Kenny left me a voicemail, saying he was going to do a long ride Saturday morning. By the time Friday night rolled around, though, I could tell that a long ride just wasn’t in the cards. Knowing that Kenny always keeps his mobile phone with him and not wanting to call so late at night, I sent him a text message:
I’m out for a long ride, but am thinking of an 8am Tibble. What’s your plan?
Kenny texted back:
I’ll be in surgery.
I replied, sagely:
I broke my hip
At this point, I figured a phone call was warranted.
So here’s what I learned — part from Kenny, who sounded slurry but coherent, and part from Kenny’s wife, who sounded resigned to the likelihood that this kind of thing is going to happen over and over and over.
Kenny was alone, riding “Frank to Crank” — a steep, technical climb with a steep, technical descent, which happens to be close to Kenny’s house and is one of his favorite training rides. On the downhill, his hands sweaty, he lost his grip and crashed, busting his hip (and, incidentally, cracking his helmet).
Kenny doesn’t really remember the instance or the details of how it happened or what hit first. He was riding, and then he was slamming into the ground. No real transition in between. Chances are you’ve had a similar crash of your own at some point, where you don’t have a really great explanation of what happened. Eventually you construct what you remember beforehand and what your injuries look like into a likely scenario, and you tell people about that theory as if it were an actual memory. If you tell it enough, it even starts to seem like that’s the way it happened.
I’m rambling. Back to Kenny’s story.
After his wipeout, Kenny sat / laid for ten minutes or so, the pain so bad that he couldn’t move; his hurt leg shaking uncontrollably. Then he used his bike as a crutch to get down off the mountain.
Except for the parts he rode.
Yes, for crying out loud, he actually rode part of the way down. And in fact, he had a second crash as he came down the mountain. See, with his hip so injured, he couldn’t twist his foot enough to get out of his pedals.
He didn’t call LifeFlight or an ambulance because he’s still feeling the financial sting of the bill for the ambulance trip he took from Squaw Peak a month ago. $1200 bucks. Sheesh. Instead, he called his wife when he was about a mile from home. Told her that he wasn’t sure how he’d get off his bike once he got home. Sure enough, she had to lay the bike down for him so he could step over it.
And then they were off to the hospital.
At the Hospital
At the emergency room, Kenny got to sit in a wheelchair in the emergency room for a good long time, shaking with the intensity of the pain.
By 10pm, they had taken care of Kenny, though he was still in the emergency room, drugged up and waiting to be assigned his own room in the hospital.
Saturday morning, he went into getting surgery, where they put three screws into his right his hip.
Just as a point of reference, while Kenny was in surgery, Gary — my across-the-street neighbor — and I went and rode Hog Hollow. It was such a nice day and such a perfect ride that we capped it off by riding the Sliding Rock: a natural waterslide:
Anyway, I went to the hospital after Kenny was out of surgery. I tried to get him to tell his story on video, but frankly, he was too drugged up. I did get a picture of him with his balloon, though (please note that the smiley face has been modified to have the same kind of soul patch as Kenny’s):
Kenny’s going to be on crutches for three weeks or more. Knowing him, he’ll be on a bike before he’s off crutches.
To tell the truth, I’m probably as bummed out about this as I can be without it happening to me. Kenny’s a great friend and riding’s an incredibly important part of his life. In fact he has — completely seriously — said that for him biking is a spiritual thing for him.
So for him to not be able to ride for a while — especially during what he and I have agreed many times is the best part of the year for riding — is a little bit heartbreaking.
That said, we have a firm commitment from Kenny that he’ll be recovered and riding for Fall Moab this year. And since I have now written this down for him, it’s an actual goal, not a wish (that’s a little Steven Covey humor for you).
This of course sucks for Kenny, but I think it represents a significant opportunity for the rest of us to surpass him, for the time being, in both biking speed and endurance.
I guess we’d better enjoy it while it lasts.