Intro to Cyclocross – Part 2

By Khem Suthiwan

Episode Two – First Crash

After one week in Kona, Clint and I didn’t mess around and got back to work. We were back at the Dawson School campus, and his son Torin (who also races CX) decided to join us this time around. Two weeks before race day, it was time to practice what I had learned before leaving for Kona. After a few loops around the course, Clint decided it was a good idea for me to lead.

With the native grassy hills of the course freshly mowed, I took off towards the first steady climb. No problem. Came down the first short hill that swept to the right and straight back up. No problem. Back down another short hill, and next thing I knew I was laying on the ground with an excruciating amount of pain on my right side.

I laid there trying to breathe, but it hurt. Amidst the pain, I had enough wherewithal to wiggle my toes to make sure they were fine. As a survivor of a cervical spine injury, my instinct kicked in to check this. Clint ran over and did his assessment, and after he knew there wasn’t any super serious injuries, he asked for my phone and started recording video.

Apparently at some point my hand went down on the front brake as I was descending. A BIG NO NO. Thus, I went “endo” and over the handlebars, landing on top of the bike. Clint and Torin managed to get me up and loaded me up into their truck, taking me to the nearest urgent care center in Lafayette.

Long story short, a few rounds of Fentanyl (freakin’ awesome stuff!!) and a full body CT scan, the doc came back with a diagnosis of two posterior rib fractures. I was extremely lucky. No signs of pneumothorax or concussion. 6-8 weeks of recovery was on the schedule and SchoolYard Cross would have to wait for me until next year.

The first week of recovery was the worst. Sent home with Percocet to manage the pain, my body rejected it so I made the decision to tolerate the pain without narcotics. I tried changing positions in bed, which was painful in itself, trying to find one that would be remotely comfortable enough for me to fall asleep. Even the small act of shimmying 1-2 inches over was at times unbearable.

After the first week, I could feel the fatigue in my entire body and the muscles surrounding the fracture made it known they were cranky. Before I knew it, the weeks went by and so did the pain, and I was ready to get back on a bike. Unwilling to give up on CX, I went to a couple local races to support other riders including SchoolYard Cross. Seeing all the juniors and racers of all ages resparked that motivation.

Next up, Episode Three – Bike Sponsor!

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