Break Bones – Make Friends!

Bikes Build Community

The Accident

November 9, 2021 celebrates my one year anniversary of breaking my hand due to a dumb mountain bike accident… mostly being my fault. On an unusually hot day in early November 2020, I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather and get out on the trails before the sun went down. I remember the day well as it was a Monday that I booked as a vacation day to accompany my wife on a few appointments. We were home by 2h30, still early enough for me to get out before sunset. I left on my mountain bike shortly after 3pm and rode (Strava link) to the Gatineau Park via the prison trails to the start of trail 68 and then turned around to get home for dinner. But when I passed P3 (Gamelin), along the paved pathway there was a group a cyclists collected and stopped on the path (added for precision) on their side of the yellow line. So I proceeded to ride around them on my side of the yellow line but couldn’t see anyone coming from their rear. I should have slowed down a bit, but I kept going at around 18-20KM/hour, which isn’t that fast but was fast enough to throw me over my bars when a guy on a bike popped out from behind them (crossing the yellow line on to my side of the path). With new brakes recently installed, I wasn’t yet accustomed to their stopping power that flew me over the handlebars to land on my right arm and hand. To be clear, I never hit anyone and the guy who pulled out in front of me apologized and said he couldn’t see me.

As I gathered myself to assess my injuries and my bike, I knew something wasn’t right. My little finger was bent in an unusual direction and my right elbow was in incredible pain. As for my bike, my saddle was twisted 90 degrees but everything else looked ok. I asked one of the stopped cyclists to twist my saddle back into place as I took off my glove and pulled on my broken finger to try and realign it. I was only 20 minutes from home so I decided to ride the rest of the way using my left arm to support my weight. I knew an ER visit was required but I didn’t want to go to the hospital in my dirty cycling kit and an empty stomach. Once home, I showered with plenty of expletives and grimaces to manage the pain, changed into regular clothes, ate dinner, and then walked to the hospital. Fortunately, my hospital visit was relatively short. I arrived around 6h15pm, discovered I broke two bones, my little finger and my radius with a non-displaced fracture. I didn’t know at the time, but I would require surgery on my little finger to ensure the bone healed properly. By 10pm, I had a temporary cast and instructions to make appointments with two doctors, one for my radius in orthopedics, and another in plastic surgery for my hand.

A compilation of photos from the road to recovery post the accident on November 9, 2020

And Now for the Fun Part

Within days Warren (Wawa) MacDonald brought over an old CompuTrainer for me to use. And in parallel, my friends at Full Cycle rallied to find me a modern smart trainer. Within days they got their hands on a JetBlack Volt smart trainer and delivered it to me on the Sunday morning following my accident. November 2020 was at the height of Covid-19 lockdown and the end of the summer season for riding in the northern hemisphere, so smart trainers were really hard to come by. I ended up getting a smart trainer originally destined for one of the Full Cycle owners, but he let me have it instead. 

As I rediscovered Zwift, I began making friends across the planet and right here in our own backyard. My Strava and Zwift friends grew quickly… and somehow, I motivated myself to ride more than I have in years. On a rolling 12 months I have completed over 10,600km with 3080KM on the smart trainer. And in 2021 I’m at 9720Km. I expect to eclipse the 10,000KM mark within a week. For some, this isn’t a lot, but as I was recovering from November to mid February and worked most of 2021 in an intense startup, along with being a husband and dad, to achieve this distance accumulation I had to average around 205KM/week and 6-10 hours of riding. This required a lot of personal drive, logistics management, late nights, and family negotiations. 

Distance Accumulation over the past 12 months

I am very grateful for everyone who opened their arms and brought me into their cycling groups and communities. Friends at Common Empire invited me to several online Zwift sessions. I did a few Ride With Rendall virtual evening rides. Sandra Beaubien and Mike McGuire taught me all about FTP, watts per kilo, and how to get the most out of Trainer Road, Zwift, and other virtual training platforms. I also joined a few online fundraising rides to support Lucy Hempstead, the Toronto Hustle crew, and Cat Weaver’s respective fundraising campaigns. 

I also became friends with some local bikepacking legends like David Wright, Eric and Jen Betteridge, Darius Arjang, and Parham Momtahan. I’ll write a longer post about the Log Driver’s Waltz bikepacking trip soon and the support and friendship I got from this crew.

I got inspired by so many people over this past year… so many that I can’t name them all but here are a few that inspired me in so many ways!

  • David Wright – for his kind and supportive friendship
  • Steve O’Shaughnessy – for his incredible podcast and for our long and philosophical email exchanges
  • Wawa MacDonald – for helping out in time of need
  • The Full Cycle team for always keeping my bikes in great shape
  • Andrea and Scott Emery – so creative, honest, and authentic
  • Matt Surch – Dude, how do you ride so much?
  • Mark Manners – humble depth
  • Charles Downey and Jen Baguss! Smiley faces on bikes!
  • Steph Sothcott and Graham Page – I love their Instagram stories for their daily dose of education and inspiration
  • Jamie Sunderland – for the wise advice
  • Jamie Blades – Common Empire is thriving
  • Glen Rendall – the most solid guy on a bike with a gentle soul
  • Rob Orange – if I can ever get as fast as him!
  • Brad Fehr – the guy in Edmonton who is challenging me to get to 10,000 KM this year
  • Lorne Blackman – amazing medical recovery this year!
  • David Bilenkey – this guy is an incredible leader for cycling in Ottawa
  • Jay Heins – can’t wait to read his next book
  • Ellen Lee – for her awesome sense of humour
  • The entire Ghost Gravel crew – thanks for bringing me into your crew. It’s awesome getting to know you all.
  • Jeff Noakes – rain or shine, he rides
  • Eric and Jen Betteridge – The Log Driver’s Waltz Bikepacking route! Epic beauty!
  • Dani McEac – what a huge heart
  • Emily Lafleche – change everything in one year… and ride more than ever before!
  • Chris Snow – geez, that guy has skills
  • Jim Gauld – he reinvented himself
  • Alain Villeneuve – solid guy… brother from another mother
  • Ian Craib and Parham Momthan – inspirations on how to retire and ride
  • Jeff Delgado – can anyone be more passionate about bikes!
  • Matt Large – super nice guy!
  • Harry Webster and the Capital Punishers – he is a diesel engine with a huge smile
  • Jed Tommy – I want to hug him every time I see him
  • The 8 Hours of Hurtin in Haliburton crew – an awesome event
  • The Wendigo crew – Cameron Dube and Jordan Norris – incredibly adventurous and talented endurance athletes
  • Pierre Boulay – my cycling coach who has made me stronger than ever before
  • And of course, my wife and kids for always being so supportive and understanding
  • And many more… Lauren, Zahava, Rueban and Lindy, MTB Canuck, the Gorman Family, Ian Nash, Simon (endurance Seeker), Amanda Brandimore, Christoph P, Duncan B, Ian Morgan, Ian Brisbin, Michael B, Grahame and Barbie, Real P, Josh HC, Peter P, Bob Kwan, Chris Panasky, Tab L, Marco, Chris Mathias, Jan B, Lisa W, Ahmad S, Kat F, and others!

One common theme I saw reinforced time and time again over this past year is that cyclists look out for cyclists. Bikes build community and friendships that withstand the test of time.

Thank you all! Here’s to old and new friends!

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