Three Stitches

Crash is Josh’s nickname. He’s the more adventurous rider willing to push speed and limits. I am the one who ended up in a creek ditch thrown six-feet down. I was shocked after the bike and me laid to rest in a pile of brush and branch, blood oozing from various wounds on my leg. Josh doubled back after he heard the crash and the cracking of wood on carbon.

He approached, “Oh man honey, are you ok, is anything broken?”
“I don’t think so. I don’t know what happened…it wasn’t even a technical section.”
Josh extracted my bike the handlebars twisted, watching me intently. I got to my feet and walked back to the section that served as my launching pad. Reviewing the trail like a crime scene, I saw the culprit, a rogue vine looping on the right side of the trail. A flash of memory confirmed the vine attacked my handlebar, twisting me abruptly sideways and down first to trail, the momentum carrying me another level into the creek ravine. A double-whammy fall! Josh assessed my bike, confirming it was rideable then he turned to my right leg. “You are gonna need stitches.” Blood dripped down a slice on my right kneecap along with a gash on the shin. It rolled down my leg and pooled into my sock.

We were on RAGO at the time, in the midst of the Back 40 Trails in Bella Vista, Arkansas. We needed to either bike or hike out to the nearest trailhead several miles away. I clambered back on, churning up a hill on Summit School. A trail angel (Kelly) appeared about ½ mile later, a member of the OZ Trails Bike Patrol. Think ski patrol just on bikes. He assessed my wounds and confirmed stiches were in order. He produced gauze, water and tape to wipe me down and cover both gashes for the duration. He gave us directions to Mercy urgent care, smiling all the while telling us how many times he’d had stitches from a fall.

Sigh, I had to get back on the bike. I hike-a-biked up a steep section and then coasted down, riding the brakes obviously spooked and cautious. We arrived at another trailhead and parking lot, where Josh planned to ride to our car then return to get me. As we confirmed his route on my soggy trail map, we noticed a guy coming off the trail hiking, not biking (smart I thought). He walked toward his truck. Wasting no time, limping over to his cab, I asked if he could give one of us a ride.
“I need stitches.” I said, pointing to my gauzed leg.
“Oh, man, sure I can take you!” the stranger replied.
Sighing relief, I planted my padded butt on the metal bench and waited for Josh and my chariot to return and deliver me to Mercy!

Thankfully, at urgent care the x-rays came back clear. No broken bones, but I did leave with three stitches in my right shin, a tetanus shot and an orange Arkansas trauma bracelet secured to my wrist. It was Sunday, only day two on the stat sheet of a weeks vacation. The next few days, we played a game of Find The Bruises On Laura. Contusions and scratches appeared like stars in the clear night sky. My non-stitched leg had a 4” diameter greenish-purple bruise growing on my inside thigh. My left anklebone was turning similar shades. My left arm, elbow and shoulder ached.

Thankfully, it rained Monday. I was in no condition to be back on a bike but was healthy enough to walk (limp rather) through Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville. A dose of contemporary architecture, art and culture was just the prescription I needed. We also delivered my bike to Mojo Cycling for a repair to my bent derailleur hanger. The staff was intrigued by my story and super happy to hear that bike patrol actually helped someone. In the event I had the nerve to get back on my bike, it was deemed ready to ride.

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