Saturday, May 12, 2012


Faceplants are always a bad way to start the day.

Many of you have heard about my bike accident a few weeks ago so I decided to give the full story and explain what happened, even though it will reveal my own stupidity.

I had a train to catch on Friday morning at 5am. the trams and buses don't start until 5 also, so I decided to try to take a public bike there. By the way, this is probably the coolest public bike rental system I have ever seen! You use your credit card at the machine to rent a bike for a while. The first half hour is one euro and you just return the bike to another station, wherever you are. They have stations conveniently placed all over. And there's one right outside my door at Place des Martyrs de la Resistance.

So for the first time since coming to Bordeaux, I tried the V-Cube bikes at about 4am.

I had biked about two minutes from my house and was headed down a slight hill near the tram tracks at Gambetta. I was on the sidewalk and had discovered that the breaks weren't excellent, but I was going fast and having fun. My purse was on my shoulder and my backpack on as I bounced down the sidewalk (it's made of some smooth brick laying, but it looks like slate, I'm not sure what this is called because it's not really cobble stone. I'll call it concrete from here on). There was a pedestrian coming toward me so I leaned to my left to get on the tram tracks and out of his way.

Sadly I forgot the whole tires-parallel-to-a-bump problem.

Well, the tires rubbed a bit of concrete that lines the tram tracks and is about a centimeter high. The tires rubbed it, staying straight while I was leaned toward my left, into the turn, and going pretty quick. Well, everything went south and into the concrete quickly. I landed on my face and knees. I remember the concrete coming up very fast and then I was sitting on my knees bleeding everywhere.

Well, I was bleeding from my nose and lip. My bottom teeth had cut into my lower lip but hadn't gone through. The man I had been trying to give room to on the sidewalk asked me if I needed help in French and I told him I only spoke English but he said he knew some. Thank goodness! He helped me as I sat there: he checked my teeth to made sure they were all there and he let me wipe my bloody face on his sleeve.

I tried to stand up and almost passed out so I sat back down for another couple minutes while we chatted. I have never said the f-word so many times in my life. I really don't like swear words, and I especially dislike the f-word. But when something hurts that much it's one of the most satisfying words to say. And he was French so he didn't mind (a mostly true stereotype, I've found).

I finally got up and he took my backpack for me. It was then that I realized he was carrying two 2 liter bottles, maybe wine or vodka in one and an orange-colored mixer in his other hand. He asked if he could put them in my bag (as in my purse that I was still wearing). I just stared at him. He realized how stupid that was and stuck them in his jeans' pockets.

We walked to the bottom of the hill, about a half a block. And I knew I had to keep biking. It's a cliche, but it's true: you have to get back on the horse (or bike). If I continued walking, I would have missed my train to Rodez, France, then my flight to Brussels, Belgium and my trip to Amsterdam, Netherlands. There was no way I would miss that train!

So I biked, super cautiously, to the train station after thanking the guy who helped me.

When I got there, I limped in search of a bathroom. The bathrooms don't open until the station opens though, and that's at 5am. Yippee. So I went into the office area, where they were starting to set up (it was around 4:30 or 4:45am, but I'm not really sure). There was a security guard and I asked him where the bathroom was. He told me to go out to the public toilette across the street.

I was pretty punchy from lack of sleep and pain so I just started crying. He realized I was and quickly grabbed someone who spoke a little English. They finally got a first aid kit and tried to help me a bit. Someone brought me water after I asked for some five times (my water bottle had fallen out during the fall and I hadn't noticed until I got there).

I managed to catch my train and find a seat. Epic Faceplant took a long time to heal. It's actually still healing. My ribs on my left side, the side I fell on and where I must have strained something, still hurt when I breathe deeply. My bottom lip is still swollen, although healed. My nose hurts and makes crunching noises like it's broken if I push on the side of it. And my knees are still bruised. It has been a month since I fell. This is getting ridiculous.

Well, if you want to see my bruises and cuts, see the pictures below. If not, the story is pretty much over so don't scroll down if this stuff grosses you out.

Day of the fall, 5am, on the train to Rodez, France. 
Swollen and slightly crooked nose with funky lip. 

Where my teeth went into my lip, day of the fall. 

Day after fall. Nose is still swollen and lips scabbed. 

Two days after fall. 

Bruising is just starting to come in after two or three days on left knee. 

Right knee, two days after. 

Three or four days after. The white squiggly lines are normal for cuts inside the mouth that are healing. I googled it. 

Three or four days after. 

Four or five days after. 

Five days after fall. 

Different lighting makes it look yellowish (sorry), maybe seven or eight days, I think. 
That scab got to be a millimeter or so thick, which is pretty darn thick!

The inside of my lip doesn't look so epic anymore, it's just swollen and feels like there is half a peanut stuck in there (as in it has a hard bump). I'm hoping it's not permanent scar tissue and that it will go away someday soon. If I get back to the states in two months and it's still there, I may ask my doctor to look at it.

I finally felt like writing about this after so long because I went for a 30 minute run today. I couldn't breathe deeply because of my ribs, but I finally felt successful and less sluggish after not being able to do much for so long.

Now, take this as a lesson: Don't try to go over a bump on a bike when parallel to it, take it at a 20 degree angle, at least! Yes, I have known this since I learned to bike with Mom and Laura in Buckley, but it is a good reminder. And now I can join the club of Bikers Who Have Fallen.

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