I was at an orienteering race over the weekend, and because I'm broken, I decided that I would not go into the forest on Sunday, but do a rollerski instead. I planned a loop, but didn't bother to drive it. Off I go, skiing into a beautiful crisp fall morning, not much on my mind other than happiness at moving my body. There were two major climbs in my loop, the second one about twice the height of the first one. The first big descent was perfect - just fast enough to cause a little trepidation, but not so fast as to actually scare me, and it was a nice breather after the mile-long climb. I forgot how much I like rollerskiing in NY, wide shoulders, good pavement, and here there was quite low traffic. The loop.
The second climb was a bit of a grind, 550ft total, and about 3/4 of the way up, I hit an intersection, which caused me to pause and think about which way to go for a second. After making a decision and going left, I managed to forget how much of a hill I'd already come up. The road kept going uphill for a while, and then flattened out into a beautiful, rolling, well-paved, car-less stretch of happiness. The endorphins were hitting me hard after not doing much training recently, I was in a good place. Then the road started downhill, gently. I thought about using speed reducers, but I hate slowing down, so I just kept free-skating. I passed a yellow sign showing the downhill truck sign, but figured that if it didn't say what the % grade was, it couldn't be that bad. Turned a corner and started going downhill for real, wheee! I turned another corner, the road got steeper, and I figured I could just ski it out, but I was carrying a lot of speed at this point and still accelerating.
Then I turned another corner (the road was following a ravine streambed down the plateau), and the road disappeared off a precipice ahead of me. In about the time it takes to say "oh SHIT!", I surveyed my options:
1. Left lane: just as steep, oncoming car.
2. Bail to shoulder? Nowhere to go, guardrail and rocky ravine.
3. Snowplow to scrub speed? Already in a snowplow, wasn't working to lose any speed and the skis were wavering back and forth really badly already.
4. Continue down the hill and hope to come out with the rubber side down? Figured I had another 10 seconds of uprightness with the wavering skis at the speed I was going, and if I got in a tuck (more stable), I'd probably hit 40-45 mph by the bottom, which would really hurt if I failed with the rubber-side-down agenda.
5. Fall, and scrub speed using the skin-asphalt friction.
a. Bail to side/hip?
b. Bail forwards?
c. Bail backwards?
I went for the butt slide approach, which was exquisitely painful (as expected), until I came to a stop against the guardrail. Spent a while panting, then tried to survey the damage, but I couldn't see much. Felt like a hell of a road rash, and my spandex had been reduced to assless chaps. Tied a windbreaker around my waist for decency, walked the rest of the steep hill, and limped on back, cautiously.
I lucked out that I was parked at the orienteering race, because they had emergency medical people set up, so they cleaned most of the gravel out of my ass and bandaged me up. It would have sucked to have to try and deal with a bloodied butt on my own in a remote parking lot somewhere. The downside to being at the orienteering race was that I was in Glens Falls, NY, about 2.5 hours away from Amherst. Ali agreed to drive me home, but she has never driven a stick shift car before, so that was an adventure. Luckily we were mostly on the highway, and fastlane meant not stopping.
It gets better. As we peeled out of the parking lot ("Release the clutch!" "Which one is the clutch?!?"), Ed called - he had been at the Mt. Greylock rollerski race earlier in the day with his rollerskis, and apparently on his way home, the wheel fell off his truck or something like that. He was camped out at the Lee exit off the Mass pike, and apparently the nearest auto parts store was 9 miles away. Ali and I bailed him out, he bought us burritos, then fixed his truck and we parted ways again. I suppose that could have been much worse, too.
So after dropping Ali off at her apartment, I had to get myself to the University Health Center, all of like 1 mile away. Boy was it painful to sit in the car and have to operate it. It was a slow night at the ER, and my raspberry butt really made the night for the nurses - they all kept popping in to check it out. Anyway, they put some lydocin on the road rash first, to numb it, and that was nice to have my butt not burning anymore. So another person comes in after 30 minutes or so to start cleaning my butt, and at this point I'm really cold. She gave me a blanket, but I had started shivering quite violently, so she went and got another blanket. At this point I was shaking so violently that the whole examining table was shaking, and lying on my belly, the tremors were making my hip flexors cramp as they tried to pull me into a fetal position. She told me that she couldn't really work on me while I was shivering this much, so brought me more blankets and left me curled up there to warm up. The shivering was way worse than getting gravel scrubbed out of my butt, I was truly miserable. The doctor came in, took my temperature, asked me if I'd ever gone into shock over something before or had a panic attack (nope), and eventually decided that we should clean off the lydocin from my butt, although they were convinced that this wouldn't be an allergic reaction to it. Shortly after they cleaned it off, the shivering abated, and they cleaned out the rest of the gravel. That wasn't an entirely pleasant experience, either.
So now I'm all bandaged up, its like wearing a diaper. They say I'm allowed to poop, but I haven't figured out how that is going to work just yet. Thanks to school health insurance I get to hobble back there each day to have them change my bandaging, but boy does sitting down suck right now.