Maintaining after being hit by a car

A few days ago I had my first serious car vs. bike accident. I was cruising just over 20 mph when a car coming from the other direction on a `two-way road turned right in front of me (crossing the lane). I hit their rear quarter panel and flipped over the car. The driver and bystanders came to my aid right away.

I fractured my L 5th metacarpal (boxer’s fracture, non-dominant hand), severely contused my L ribs (no fracture), and had my fair share of road rash. I am thankful for this as it could have been so much worse.

My frame seems to be totaled. The bike buckled mid-top tube and almost fully transected it. The headtube also cracked. This sucks because I loved this bike and the paint. Surprisingly, the front wheel seems okay.

I’m going to be in this cast for 6-8 weeks, and not sure when I will be able to breathe normally again.

For those who have had similar injuries, how did you ease back into it? What can I do to maintain some fitness?

I anticipate just using the trainer for these next few months, but I was also lifting with some regularity. I guess I’ll focus on back squats and other plyometrics that do not rely on grip or pressure on my hand; suggestions are appreciated.

BWR AZ, Whiskey 50, possibly Unbound, and Leadville are on my calendar.

Really sorry that this happened to you. Very few of us on here are medical professionals, so everything that gets said needs to be taken with the massive caveat of you should go with whatever advice your doctors give you. Make it clear to them though what you want to do - if you’re lucky you’ll find a doctor that takes more of an interest in sports related recovery and will help in guiding you through it.
From personal experience, the best advice I can give is to take your time, especially early on. While your body is doing major healing, additional stress can slow things down. Once you are able to sit on trainer, using it to just get your legs spinning may be quite helpful in terms of upping blood flow, but definitely keep things low intensity initially. Bruised ribs will hurt a lot, but should heal relatively quickly (at least, compared to broken ribs). Personally, I wouldn’t bother doing anything until you can breathe comfortably - more benefit to be gained by just giving your body the maximum opportunity to heal I would have thought.

Fingers crossed you recover quickly


First things first, take some rest. Taking a week off won’t hurt at all, the last time I took 2 weeks off I came back and started grabbing KOM’s and setting PR’s.

After that, if your ribs feel okay and you’re breathing fine (and your doctor says ok) then start working back into it on the trainer. Take it easy at first and feel it out, but start ramping back up. If your ribs hurt or you’re having any issues, I’d just take more time off, maybe spin recovery pace, maybe low endurance.

Never a good time to have an injury, but you’d much rather have it now than at lot closer to events.

Hope you heal up soon!

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First, take the time to heal…there is no need to rush back. That said, get aero bars set up on your trainer so you can keep your weight off your hand while riding. The ribs are another issue altogether…I bruised my ribs last spring and it SUCKED. Took about ~2 weeks off the bike as I saw no chance at being able to ride comfortably. I was also having a lot of muscle spasms with the rubs, so I went to a an accupuncturist and it made a massive difference. The muscles calmed down and the pain was significantly reduced. Definitely not my normal method of dealing with injuries, but I was desperate and it definitely helped.

Not surprsing at all…wheels are a very strong structure front-to-back. If you hit something square-on, there is a decent chance the wheel will be OK. It is when you introduce lateral loads that things get wonky. I once went down in a crit after I hit another fallen rider who was on all fours (you get the visual, I’m sure, of where my front wheel made contact :scream:)…ripped the aluminum head tube out of the carbon tunes of the main triangle, but the front wheel was just dandy.

Glad you are still here…heal fast and well!


I never would have thought of` this. Definitely will look into it. I’ve never tried accupuncture before.

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Good luck…let us know if it helps!

I broke my 4th and 5th metacarpal last friday after taking and awkward fall while hiking. Both fractures are displaced, but I learned yesterday that I shouldn’t need surgery. I’ll second the recommendation of aero bars so you can get back on trainer as soon as ribs allow. I did a 45 minute spin yesterday and it was OK. My main concern would be sweat build up with the cast. I was able to get a soft splint that I can remove for showers (and trainer), so no sweat issues. Maybe ask dr. if you can switch to a removable cast once it heals a bit. Good luck, wishing you a complete and speedy recovery.


Ouch! I’ve been fortunate when I have been hit Ive bounced. I have touch wood only been forced off the bike for an extended period of time for something entirely different and I was quite glad how I came back, and the subsequent PRs. Don’t be afraid to rest up and heal well, you can come back stronger in good time!

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No real advice from me, just wanted to say best wishes for a fast recovery. Glad you will be able to get back to riding eventually. Lucky it wasn’t worse, cars and pavement are not soft

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When I broke my foot, I did absolutely nothing. And I mean nothing. If I didn’t need to leave the bed, I didn’t (mostly the couch). My GF at the time was amazed I was capable of being so lazy!* After a couple of weeks the doctor approved of me doing light work, so I started gently, super, super gently, spinning on a trainer for short periods of time (stopping as soon as i noticed any discomfort), slowly ramping up time and effort, but still way little than you would imagine. I would do some core and upper body work here and there, but only if it had no impact on my foot.

Basically, I treated my healing as my #1 priority in training. Until I was healed, that was my task. I was even paying for a coach at the time.

*I am, and have been, a high volume (20+ hours a week) rider for years. So for people to see me just do absolutely nothing was a shock.


Don’t take this ‘opportunity’ to diet due to low activity, the body needs fuel and minimum stress to heal.

I had the same injuries as you 6 weeks ago from a similar low 20s mph crash because of a stupid car manoeuvre. It sucks, sorry. Luckily, bike-wise, I was on my track bike and it crashed like a track bike—hardly a scratch. The lads on their carbon bikes (like my normal road bike) had theirs smashed in. Injury meet insult.

Honestly, it’s taken much longer than expected to recover and I’m certainly not back into the swing of things. I genuinely want to quit, I’m tired of come-backs. But I can’t. Too weak to ride fast, too weak to quit lol.

One mistake I made a couple times was trying to do VO2 early on because I could only hold myself up for 30 mins. It aggravated the broken rib more than I would admit. So, don’t do that.

First - glad you’re generally OK. As you said, could’ve been much worse.

I can’t speak to the hand, but I broke 2 ribs (high on the left side) in 2016. I was on an MTB demo ride and lost an argument with a tree. After about 2 weeks, I was doing very light trainer spins. The doc cleared me for road rides after 5 weeks, and I was back to full training load in 6 , raced a crit in 8.

YMMV, but the doc’s estimates of recovery time are just that, estimates. Obviously, clear all activity with your doc, but as soon as you can, do what you can without compromising your healing. 20 min on the trainer in Z1 is better than sitting on the couch. IF you can do it without aggravating your injuries.

I expect your ribs will heal before you’re out of the cast, so you should be able to get back on the trainer comparatively soon. If you can figure out a position that is OK for your hand, you should be able to get decent workouts in while it heals. Check with your doc on what sort of loading you can and cannot do with the cast, and work that into making a position workable.

You’ll figure it out. You’re motivated.


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Be careful with back squats if you have injured ribs. I imagine the pain will stop you, but even if it doesn’t you might end up altering how you carry the bar which could cause a back problem. Might be safer to use a smith machine or leg press for a few weeks.

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When i got hit by a car a few years ago (broken ribs) i walked loads. It was early summer so lovely outside and i’d get up early and walk 5 or 6 miles every day. After a couple of months (and a new bike) i’d ride slowly in zone 1 & 2. It was ages before i could run or swim again or go into high heart rate/heavy breathing.

Go steady, keep moving, don’t get fat, don’t get unhappy. The months will fly past.

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I broke 3 ribs and had a partially collapsed lung last year. Doc who pulled out my chest tube was a cyclist - said I could get back on the trainer the next day if I wanted, and I did. Rib breaks are VERY individualized - I broke some before and recovery was quite a bit longer. Ride to your comfort level indoors when you are ready.

So sorry about the accident, it’s always terrifying.

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imo it would be best if you can accept you won’t maintain at this point. your healing properly is the top priority.

6 months from now, what will be best? you taking the time to heal properly? or you pushing it / potentially re-injuring etc etc.

I heard this this morning and thought of you. the advice was regards to coming back from being sick a few weeks. he says to ride for a few weeks without looking at power.

best of luck.

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