Dealing with crash

I hope this post finds you all in good health and spirits. I recently experienced a pretty significant crash during a ride which resulted in a concussion and a broken pelvis in a couple spots. I lost consciousness for a brief period of time and don’t have any recollection of the crash for better or worse. I also don’t know how it happened (was at the very end of a 60 mile ride, was on a quiet road, bike almost totally fine, I took the brunt of it). I was unfortunately a bit ahead of my mates (so no witnesses) who fortunately called an ambulance right away.

As many of you can probably relate, the physical pain has been tough, but the emotional and mental toll has been unexpectedly challenging as well. I know I can get over the physical ailments but some of the mental challenges loom larger. I trained (and sacrificed) a lot to get to my current fitness. Biking was my outlet from a demanding job and the realities of a great but hectic life. The endorphin release and pleasure of tracking progress in TR, Strava etc was powerful for me in several positive ways.

So I guess I ask for any advice but mainly across the below topics.

  1. Getting through a concussion. Told to lay low for 7-10 days. I feel ok but struggling with loud noises and lots of action / stimuli. Also worried about performing at work etc after a TBI. Definitely feels like dealing with a minor bout of post crash depression/anxiety
  2. Dealing with the mental challenges of letting go of fitness but finding new joys during rehab
  3. Recovering from pelvis fractures (told to expect 2 months of crutches and 4-6 months before I feel normal again)
  4. Dealing with a crash when you have no idea how it happened. It looks like I was trying to do one last sprint before something happened but that’s all I know. No significant damage to bike to suggest I was hit by a car.
  5. The pressure from family, friends, colleagues to never ride again (for some reason lack of any memory of crash doesn’t have me scared but biking again would have them call me stupid)

I’m very grateful for any advice. I’m also grateful everything cycling and TrainerRoad has given me.

Please take extra caution and time to let your brain truly REST. This means no work, YouTube, screen time, reading, basically anything. Your brain is more important than all the fitness in the world.

Most of the answers are patience, unfortunately. And humor, if you can muster it. My attempt at a reassuring anecdote: Teammate fractured several important bones, including pelvis and went through extensive surgery. He was off crutches and back on the bike waaay before any of us were expecting, and is already back to dropping me within 6 months (… maybe against his doctor’s orders… I don’t recommend that…).

Between the depression (normal, expected response) and pressure from family, I’d consider therapy. And/or any clubmates who have had crashes you can talk to? It’s nice to be able to commiserate with people who have gone through it. But also, you’ll be off for a while, so it will give family time to come to terms with the idea of you going out again. And it may be a while before you feel like doing what my surgeon deemed “high velocity stuff” too, which may ease their fears.

Otherwise, time. The uncertainty and/or anger that comes with crashes fades (very, very slowly) over time.

Take the brain stuff seriously. If you want to continue biking, express that to doctors but listen to them. If cycling was a social outlet for you, ask riding mates to meet for coffee or a drink.

Expect everyone else to not understand and be happy when some come around or do. It’s your life.

1 Like

I can offer some advice on 1 and 4, my concussion causing crash was also one where I don’t know what happened. I can’t emphasise enough the need to give your brain time to recover - I thought I was better a week later but then a month later, this fog that I hadn’t realised was there lifted! In that month my emotions were all over the place - easy to anger, easy to tears - those around you will need to be prepared for this as will you.
As for 4, over three years on, I still don’t know what happened and while I occasionally try and piece it together, it just gets frustrating because it’s speculation.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you navigate your recovery!

1 Like

I’ve recovered from a serious crash which involved a fractured hip socket and pelvis and required lots of metal work to fix. My advice on some of your questions
2. Don’t worry about lost fitness it will eventually return. Instead focus on celebrating the small victories such as being able to put on your own socks. The turbo was great for my rehabilitation to begin with it was simply turning the pedals with no resistance. Once I could put more weight through my leg I wacked down my FTP and started with short TR endurance workouts. Whilst for several months my level of fitness was much lower but the sense of progress was great
3. Difficult to answer as it will depend on the extent of injuries and surgery. My injuries were significant and it was about 6 months to get back to 95% of where I was but the last 5% probably took another year. My advice is get a good physio who understands endurance athletes and keep working on strength training to get back that last bit of strength and fitness
5. It’s your life and if cycling is you love then you should just carry on. Yes you’ve had a bad crash but that doesn’t make it any more likely you will have another - the reverse was true in my case as I’m more cautious if the surface is slippery but I did know what happened

1 Like

No concussion but I’ve now been off the bike for five weeks after slipping on train tracks in the rain and I am not loving it so I can really relate to this. I’m definitely dealing with some depression and while I’m having some fun with another hobby (built a new gaming PC) I really want to get back on the bike.

Going to try to ride again indoors today with one hand (probable elbow fracture) and just ride as easy as I can for 30 minutes just to do something because I’m really not having a great time doing nothing.

1 Like