Last Monday, I showed a video, shot from my helmetcam, of a group ride at Little Creek. The centerpiece (i.e., the moment I showed four times 24 seconds into the piece) of the video was when The Runner crashed, whacking her buttbone (a technical term) good and hard into a sharp protruding rock.
To add injury to another injury, I also showed The Runner’s second fall, as the after-blackout-easteregg at the very end of the video. I don’t show that fall four times, because, frankly, I didn’t get a very good shot of it.
What I don’t show at all in the video is what happened after The Runner fell. Either time. That’s because after the first fall, The Runner hops around, runs in place, and swears a lot.
If it had been a guy — Rick Sunderlage (not his real name), for example — it would have been kind of comical (especially to the tune of the Mary Tyler Moore Show) — and I would have run the post-injury footage for sure. Since it was my wife, I decided against it.
A double standard? You bet.
After the second fall, I didn’t run the footage because The Runner was just laying there — face down — for a few minutes, coping with the the massive amount of pain she was experiencing.
She had hit her hands so hard she thought they were broken, and one of her knees took a very deep cut.
The thing is, we had a surprising amount of medical expertise on-hand after these crashes. Heather’s a doctor; The Runner is a nurse. Unfortunately, however, it was the nurse who was hurt, and the doctor’s expertise is in cancer research.
And as for me, well, the video reveals that apart from untangling The Runner from her bike, I’m quite useless. Mostly, I just ask her, over and over, whether she’s OK and if there’s anything I can do. Which, I think it should be pointed out, actually does serve a purpose: after I asked these questions often enough it became so irritating that it distracted The Runner from the pain of her injuries.
How to Behave
Since then, I have had time to ponder: what, exactly, should I have done while I waited for The Runner’s pain to subside?
As a cyclist who sometimes rides with a female cyclist, I realize that how one acts may depend on who one is with, and have therefore helpfully segregated my findings into appropriate gender combinations.
If you are a male cyclist with an injured female cyclist
- Refrain from telling her how hot she looks in lycra. Now is not the time. Trust me.
- Tell her how tough and awesome she is. By the way, she is very tough, and very awesome. Just in case you weren’t clear on that.
- Tell her anyone else would be crying harder / acting more pathetic than she is, including you. But don’t use the words “acting more pathetic,” because that implies she’s being pathetic at all, which she is not.
- Get her bike ready to ride again. The woman is going to want you to shut up at some point. This is a good time for you to fiddle with her bike and make sure it’s good to go.
- Volunteer to make a tourniquet / bandage out of your jersey. But not until she’s on her feet and seems like she might appreciate your sense of humor again.
- Describe the events leading up to the injury. Be expansive and generous with the difficulty of the triggering obstacle and / or event. She didn’t endo when she hit a rock. It was a big ol’ honkin’ ledge, and she darn near cleared it anyway. I’m not exactly sure why we all start telling the story as soon as the event happened, but it seems to help, and it seems to help more if you get started with the exaggeration right away.
If you are a male cyclist with an injured male cyclist
- Ask if he’s alright. Depending on how old you are and where you live, you should either end the sentence with “dude,” “man,” or “bro.” It makes the question affectionate and concerned-sounding without being too affectionate and concerned-sounding.
- Lean his bike against a tree. He won’t trust any tweaks, fixes, or adjustments you make anyway.
- Wait for 30 seconds before asking if he’s ready to ride. If he says he needs another minute, wait another thirty seconds and ask again. Repeat as necessary.
- Describe the event, but feel free to trivialize certain aspects (such as the prime cause of the event) and enhance other aspects (such as the high-pitched scream the victim made upon suffering a compound fracture).
If you are a female cyclist with an injured male cyclist
- Tell him how hot he looks in lycra. For guys, there’s no bad time to hear this, and even when we’re injured there’s a small part of us that’s wondering if our guts are sufficiently sucked in.
- Otherwise let us suffer quietly. We’re trying to be manly and stoic. If you begin to describe the event, we’re going to think it sounds silly, because you’re not exaggerating our manliness sufficiently. If you call the injury on our leg a “nasty little scrape,” you’re making it that much harder to refer to it as a five-inch-long gushing gash when we recount it later.
- Don’t touch our bikes. Unless we beg you to help us unclip.
If you are a female cyclist with an injured female cyclist
- Honestly I have no idea. Do whatever it is you women do when you’re with each other. Like, talk about how much you miss us men. That’s what you do when we’re not around, right?
Now, I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Well, how about administering a little first aid?” But that would assume I know what I’m doing and would not be making the problem worse. For example, in my panic, I might have been likely to give The Runner rattlesnake poison antidote, which probably wouldn’t have helped very much.