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March 2012

Riding with an extra elbow

Early in the part of summer that didn't have permanent rain, we had a visit from some old mates and we went mountain biking. Because Helen and Steve had been doing a major landscaping project they had not been riding much, so we decided to use the shuttle to get the best out of a bike ride in the Redwoods without subjecting them to half hour climbs between the fun bits. We had such a good time on our first trip down the hill we thought we would repeat it. We would never do that if we were riding up. But on our new, no-cost-of-entry, bus-riding planet we thought we would just give the first selection of trails another spin.

That may explain the over-confidence I displayed, or may not. Doesn't matter. There is a speed I can manage for each section of the forest trails, and much above that pace anything could happen. Every so often something makes me go faster than I am wired for, and I either have a really good time or I don't get away with it. January 7 was a day for the latter.

I knew I had broken something in the moment I hit the ground, and I was pretty sure it was my left clavicle. I had broken it before, a long time ago, in the same circumstances, and recognised the snapping sound among other sensations. I was on my feet before my bike stopped bouncing, and announced to nobody in particular that I was broken. The best way to get to the car turned out to be riding, it was less awkward than walking with a bike, and so we were pretty quickly headed for the hospital. A novel experience awaits the damaged mountain biker in Rotorua Hospital: most of the staff seem to ride. They take it for granted how you got your injury, they want to know where with a level of detail I am sure is unique, just out of curiosity.

After the xrays and with a new sling, I went home and settled in for what I expected to be a month off the bike. It took a couple of weeks to get to see an expert, just to be sure, and he found that in all likelihood the previous break from about 2001 had never really healed. That meant we needed to get in there and bolt the thing back together, because the specialist thought it unlikely the bones would reconnect otherwise. Dang. The surgery was delayed by a few clerical things, mainly the person who ticks the box at ACC being on holiday, so by the time we had a date a few more weeks had passed. It seemed silly to stay off the bike if the weird arrangement of bits and pieces where a clavicle should have been was not going to reassemble by itself, and I got in a few good rides. Well, to be honest not THAT good, due to flexibility of the area to be repaired, and a general unwillingness to crash on it until it had been reinforced. Riding slower than normal is actually quite difficult, and probably more dangerous than going at a normal pace, but it beats walking.

The day rolled round when the repair was to be made, and that has gone well by all accounts. So far so good. I am not allowed to start bike riding for another couple of weeks (I hope... actually that is the scheduled checkup, at which point I might get the go-ahead). Then I guess common sense would suggest road riding would be a good start, followed by some fire road action, and eventually the beloved singletrack.