Rider down: what to do in the event of an accident

From Flickr.

At least she had those fancy knee pads and helmet!

We’ve all taken spills on our bikes, and if you haven’t, you’re lying.
Most of the time we can get away with a bruised hip or a skinned knee or hand, but sometimes thing can get serious.
Experts recommend a variety of ways to check on an injured rider, but in case you’re not feeling like a medical professional, here are a few things you can do if your buddy goes down on the road, trail, gravel, etc.

Before you do anything else, take a deep breath. Panicking only makes things worse. 

1. Assess how hard they fell. If he or she is still laying on the ground by the time you get there, chances are the fall was a hard one. If you’re on a busy road, try to get the rider out of the street as soon as possible (without adding to the injuries).
2. See if they’re conscious and have their wits about them. Ask them who the president is? What’s your name? Do you remember falling? Ask for details. This will help you determine if there is a head injury to deal with.
Look at their eyes and see if the pupils are dilated. This could indicate a head injury.
Other head injury symptoms include headache, vomiting and blurred vision.
If they’re unconscious, try calling their name a few times and wait a minute to see if they come around. If they don’t regain consciousness after a minute or two, call an ambulance because this rider is injured beyond what assistance you can (probably) provide.
If the rider is conscious, move on down this list.
3. Check mobility. Ask them to move their head and neck, arms, legs, fingers and toes, and take a couple of deep breaths. If all goes well, you’ve ruled out broken bones.
4. Look for fractures.  If there are broken bones, try to keep the rider as comfortable as possible and don’t move him or her unless it’s absolutely necessary. Secure the injured limb if possible by making a splint: place two hard objects on either side of the arm or leg, like sturdy sticks, and wrap something around to keep them in place, like a jersey, Camelbak hose, vines (just avoid poison ivy!), etc.
You can also make a sling out of a jersey and a Camelbak hose by tying one end of the hose to the bottom of the jersey, and the other end to the sleeves or top of the jersey; hold the forearm across the body, like you’re saying the Pledge of Allegiance, to keep it from being jostled. This also works in the case of a  broken clavicle (collar bone).
5. Check for road rash and lacerations. Clean dirt out of cuts and road rash with some water from your bottles. If there’s heavy bleeding, get medical help ASAP. Otherwise, clean and bandage the injury ASAP.
6. Try standing. If so far so good, see if the rider can get up. Sometimes dizziness doesn’t present until you change positions, and getting up too fast can cause lightheadedness and blackouts. Hold the rider’s hands or wrists and slowly help them to their feet.
7. Check the gearIf the rider is OK at this point, check their helmet for cracks and dents; this may help indicate a head injury, and definitely means they need a new helmet.

If the rider experiences abdominal pain, get thee to medical attention right away. 


Some experts suggest carrying a tiny first-aid kit on rides: some things that will fit in a plastic baggie and can be stuffed in a pocket or frame bag. Here’s what I would pack:
1. A roll of medical tape – the kind you can tear so you don’t need scissors. This works for binding wounds and could help splint a broken bone.
2. Some gauze patches for cover large abrasions.
3. Some large bandaids.
4. Ibuprofen.

Here are some other bike crash suggestions from Bicycling Magazine:
Road bike crashes, mountain bike crashes and general road rash and crash injury care.

What do you do in the event of a crash? Share your story in the comments.

Le Tour de France: everything you need to know

Le Tour de France

Le Tour de France

It’s Tour season.
We have two kinds of Tour spectators:
1. The kind who know everything about all the riders, stages, which jersey represents what, who key players are in specific teams, etc.
2. The kind who watches because it sounds interesting but they’re not really sure of all the specifics, but can totally get into it.
Now I’m not going to pretend to know everything about the Tour, because I sure don’t, but I did a little research so those of us in category 2 can understand at least half of what everyone else is talking about.

What is Le Tour de France?
It’s a three week tour of a series of countries that changes every year. This year, the Tour goes through the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Spain, with 21 stages.
It started on July 1, 1903, with 60 riders, and has grown exponentially since.

What is a stage? 
A stage is an individual course on the tour, usually going from one city or town to another. This year’s tour has 21 stages. You can find a list of the stages on Le Tour’s website.

What’s with all those special award jerseys?
Each jersey represents a classification, and are handed out at the end of each stage.
Yellow Jersey: First across the finish line of the stage, and best overall time.
Polka-dot Jersey: King of the Mountains. This jersey is awarded to the best climber of the stage. 
Green Jersey:
 Best sprinter of the stage.
White Jersey: Best of the youngest riders in the stage.

Is Lance riding this year? 

Does everyone ride the Tour individually?
No. Each rider is a member of a team, with one VIP rider and several “domestique”  riders, who protect the VIP from elements, other riders and wrecks, and try to get the VIP to the front of the pelaton. You can find a list of teams and their jerseys here.

What’s a pelaton? 
It’s French for “pack.” It’s the main group of riders in any race.

What’s this I keep hearing about Mark Cavendish? 
Cavendish, the VIP rider of Belgium team Omega Pharma-Quick Step and rumored to have been going for the Tour win, crashed near the end of the first stage and is out of the tour with a dislocated shoulder.

Where can I watch the Tour? 
You can live stream from a variety of websites, but I would suggest NBC Sports.

Each stage is MANY hours long. Am I supposed to watch the whole thing?
You sure can if you want to! Invite some friends and have a watch party! If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, you can wait til later in the stage and skip to the best parts.

And to make it more interesting, here are a few drinking games for your enjoyment.
Here’s one from Drunk Cyclist.
One from DrinkiWiki.
And one from Bicycling magazine.

Enjoy, and keep riding!

Tandems, tandems everywhere: why it’s a big deal

Tandems seem to be a growing trend in cycling communities across the country, but Stillwater has taken it a step further by getting outstanding Oklahoma State University faculty and staff, and city employees, to hop astride the two-wheeled two-seaters.
Last month when Oklahoma Freewheel came through Stillwater for the first time in 20 years, we wanted to make it the best stop on the map.
In addition to hosting this year’s Speedwheel, Stillwater put on a tandem ride with OSU President Burns Hargis and his wife Ann, OSU Chief Wellness Officer Suzy Harrington and OSU mascot Pistol Pete, and Freewheel Director Joy Hancock and Stillwater Mayor John Bartley, followed by OSU international students on Orange Ride bicycles, an OSU bicycle rental program.

Photo by Keith Reed

OSU Chief Wellness Officer Suzy Harrington and OSU mascot Pistol Pete on a tandem lead OSU international students on OSU rental bicycles during OK Freewheel’s stop in Stillwater on June 12.


Photo by Keith Reed

OK Freewheel Director Joy Hancock and Stillwater Mayor John Bartley ride a tandem during the OK Freewheel stop in Stillwater on June 12.


Photo by Keith Reed

Hancock, Bartley, Harrington and Pistol Pete lead a group of OSU international students on OSU rental bicycles during the OkFreewheel stop in Stillwater on June 12.

Here’s a short video on OKFreewheel’s stop in Stillwater on June 12.

So what’s the big deal? 

Stillwater’s cycling community has exploded in the past couple of years, earning recognition from the League of American Bicyclists by becoming a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community, creating a city proclamation to name May “Bike Month,”  and introducing a “Bike to Work Day” on the first Friday in May.
The city of Stillwater has also been proactive in adding bicycle lanes to major streets and making a smart phone application, Cycle StwOK, available for free on the Apple App Store, on which riders can map rides, submit suggestions on where roads need work (i.e.: potholes, uneven roads, traffic lights that don’t pick up cyclists, etc.) and see how much carbon emissions they saved by riding instead of driving.
In a sport dominated by men for most of its history, cycling is becoming more female-friendly as more and more women express an interest in getting fit, leading a healthy lifestyle and becoming part of the unique cycling community.
Women-specific cycling groups are becoming more prevalent these days.
The Stillwater Red Dirt Divas, a women-only cycling group, formed last year as more women wanted to ride with, well, more women. The group leads several rides a week on pavement and gravel, and several members are avid mountain bikers as well.
But the group is special for more than rides. These women care about cycling and each other; at any gathering with more than two Divas, you can find discussions on cycling for women: what is chamois cream, and where the hell do you put it?, how cycling differs between the sexes, and how cycling impacts women and the community. The group has encouraged many female riders to participate in rides and races like the Tour of Payne, an annual bicycle tour of Payne County, OKFreeWheel and the Land Run 100, an annual100 mile gravel race around Stillwater.
It’s a fact: more women are getting involved in cycling, and they might just change the way we see the sport.
Who knows? Maybe we’ll get a woman in on Le Tour de France one of these days.

A dictionary: your guide to bike language

We’ve all been there – our first group ride and someone says something and you have no idea what it means. And sometimes even seasoned riders occasionally hear a term they haven’t been exposed to.
Hopefully this list will help you understand some of the dialect that cyclists have created, and what to do when you hear it.

Car back: There is a car coming up behind you and the group. On a two lane road, get over to the right as safe as possible in a single file line to let it pass. On a four lane road, stay in the right lane and allow the car to pass on the left. If the group has strung out over a distance, use this term to warn riders ahead of you of a coming vehicle.
Car left/rightUsually used when stopped at or preparing to proceed through an intersection without traffic lights. Indicates a car coming from a specific direction. Wait until the car has passed and proceed. Always follow traffic laws when using intersections with stop or yield signs.
Car up: There is a car coming toward you. On roads with lanes, you probably won’t have to take action. On roads without lanes, such as gravel, dirt and neighborhood roads, get over to the right as safe as possible and let the car pass.
Going: Alerts the group to start riding after being stopped.
On your left: Used when passing another rider; lets them know you are coming up behind with the intent to pass. This keeps the passed rider from being surprised and possibly overcompensating to the right, causing an accident, and also warns them to not make any sudden moves to the left.
Slowing: Used when approaching an intersection and preparing to stop. Take this opportunity to mentally prepare to stop, and unclip or whatever you need to do to stop.
Soup: Used in gravel grinding to describe the condition of a road; soft, deep, loose gravel or dirt that makes riding difficult because the bike goes all over the place. Example: “My bike almost slid out from under me in that soup.”
Stopping: Used to let group riders know the group is stopping so riders can stop in time.
Take the lane: Used when riding with a group in reference to taking an entire lane. Usually used before turning across traffic or when it would be unsafe to allow drivers to pass the group in the same direction, such as when crossing a bridge or passing an area with unsafe shoulders. Be sure to ride two abreast to let drivers know you have taken the lane. 

Being mostly a gravel grinder, I don’t know any road or mountain specific terms. If I missed anything, let me know in the comments!

Knee pain: no more

I’ve been getting a lot of traffic to this post about my struggles with knee pain, and I realized that I never updated the interwebs on my condition after the Land Run 100, in which I made it much further than I anticipated.
After several treatments from my doctor before and after the Land Run, we determined that my injury was ancient.
I used to play basketball and run track in junior high and high school (fancy that – me running). At some point in both sports, any player will roll his or her ankle – I guess I did, too. It didn’t cause me much trouble – I can’t even think of a specific time it happened.
So I sat on this injury for years with no trouble, but when I started riding more in December and January, the repeated motion of pedaling finally started taking its toll. The ligaments in my knee and ankle had been loose for years without problem, but now the ligaments weren’t holding my fibula (outside calf bone) in place.
I don’t know about you, but it hurts when your bones move around and they’re not supposed to.
My doctor and I determined that the only way to really fix the injury was prolotherapy, an injection procedure that would help the ligaments heal on their own. You can find out more about it here. It takes about four weeks to fully recover from it, so I waited until after the Land Run. I knew I wouldn’t finish the race, but I wanted to go as far as I could, and 56 miles was way better than the 15 I had managed before.
On April 4, I headed to Tulsa for the procedure. The doctor made sure everything was in the right place in my leg and marked injection points with a (skin safe) pen.
prolo 3

I needed injections on the inside and outside of my knee and ankle.

I needed injections on the inside and outside of my knee and ankle.

Then came the pain meds and the needles. I wish I had gotten a picture of them because they were wicked! At least 20, 3 inch needles. Fun fact: often, the needles have  to go in the full length to reach the injured ligament and tissue.
Even with the pain medication (Demerol and something else), it still got pretty painful sometimes. But a funny thing happens when you’re on pain meds – you just don’t care.

After the shots. You can see my knee already starting to swell.

After the shots. You can see my knee already starting to swell. You can also see my sweet Land Run 100 scar.

I needed to get back to Stillwater pronto for the Friday Night Social at District Bicycles for the newly elected City Councilors. I had worked with them to write up a few lines about how cycling friendly they are and I wanted to be there in time to meet them. So the doctor wrapped my knee, I fueled up on coffee and I hit the road.

The tape was so tight and my leg was so swollen I could barely move it. It actually felt like a peg leg - I couldn't bend my knee so I would just swing my leg out to the side as I walked. Real piratey.

The tape was so tight and my leg was so swollen I could barely move it. It actually felt like a peg leg – I couldn’t bend my knee so I would just swing my leg out to the side as I walked. Real piratey.

After a week of walking to class and work, I finally asked if I could get back on the bike. To my surprise, the four weeks wasn’t about staying off the bike – it was full recovery time. As long as I felt okay, I could ride!
I started riding again, and it felt great. I mostly rode around town until a friend and I decided to set out on a 30 mile course. We were both dealing with leg injuries, so we decided to see how far we could get. I could blame my poor performance that day on the wind, or that it was a course I hadn’t ridden before, but the fact of the matter is that I was embarrassingly out of shape. I made it 5 miles out and decided that a 10 mile round trip was enough for me (which actually worked out well because I now use it as a beginner gravel ride for these ladies).
Sure, sometimes I felt a few twinges or tightness in my knee at the beginning of a ride, but it always worked itself out by the time we finished.
Every time I went on a long(ish) ride, I would message my doctor later: “20 miles with no pain!” “35 miles with no pain!”
So far, my longest ride since the Land Run has been 37 miles, but I aim to push higher.
When we went to Emporia for the Dirty Kanza 200, we joined an “easy paced” group ride. I was fully prepared to chill on the bike and get to know some Kansans.
That was the fastest 20 miles I have ridden. A friend and I stuck together and had a blast pushing ourselves to keep up with the group, but shoot – we were tired when we got back.
Over post-ride beers, someone asked how my knee was doing, and I realized my knee was fixed for good, barring some freak accident.
So now that that’s out of the way, I’ll be training to finish the Land Run 100 and the Dirty Kanza Half Pint in 2015.

I’m not on any prolotherapy payroll, but I will say that stuff works. I’ve had it on my wrist (from a dodgeball accident) and it’s like the injury never happened. If you have long-term ligament injuries, I would encourage you to ask your doctor about it, or find out more.


Summer: it’s here, and it brought the sun with it

Against our hopes, the temperatures have gradually risen as June has marched forward, and as much as we hate to admit it, summer is here. Are you ready?
Drive less
I know it’s easy to choose four wheels over two wheels when the thermometer is inching north of 90, but there is no better time to ride your bike. I’m not looking to start a political debate with talk of the environment, but it’s a pretty widely accepted fact that pollution output increases in the summer as temperatures rise and we drive more. I am definitely not an ozone expert, so I’ll let the guys over at The Ozone Hole take over. What I do know, is that if we ride our bikes instead of drive cars, we put out less exhaust, which makes less pollution, which protects our ozone, which will save the world one day.
Ride more
Of course, no one wants to arrive to work (or wherever you’re going) sweaty and stinky. But the thing is, the more you ride, the less of an exercise it becomes. That’s right. Your body acclimates to the heat and exertion, just like any other form of exercise. I started riding as much as I could after school got out, partially because I wanted to lose weight, and partially because I was preparing myself to be a poor college graduate and I wanted to save gas money (my car is a GUZZLER). After about a week of riding to and from work, running errands, etc., I found myself sitting at a traffic light in the afternoon. It was easily 90 degrees, but I thought to myself, “This isn’t that bad.” So now, I don’t get to use “It’s too hot” as an excuse to drive, because I don’t want to.
Drink more
Duh. It’s a no brainer to drink more water when it’s hot outside. The thing is, though, if you’re going to be riding, you need to be drinking more than you thought, and not just while you ride. Even if I’m just planning to do a 10 mile ride in the evening, I make a conscious effort to drink water all day long.
Sure, you might have to pee more, but pretty soon your body will start absorbing it rather than just pushing it through. Believe me, you’ll be thankful for that extra hydration when you’re on the road or trail and its hot, hot, hot, because dehydration isn’t pretty.
Symptoms of dehydration, according to WebMD, include:
dry mouth
swollen tongue
palpations (it feels like your heart is kipping beats and jumping around)
decreased urine output, or dark urine.
I’m telling you. Peeing a little more a day is way better than all of that.
Wear sunscreen 
I’m so glad our society is almost past the “tan is cool” phase. Being a pasty white girl, pressure to be as dark as possible in high school was intense, and it showed, whether I had streaky fake tan legs, or I was firetruck red from wanting to get a tan from an afternoon in the park and then staying too long. I have blister scars on my shoulders from consciously abstaining from sunscreen. Back then, the pain and snakeskin was worth it because it meant after I molted, I was half a shade darker.
It seems I’ve grown up, though. I forgot sunscreen on a morning ride with a friend yesterday and now I have a white impression of my racerback jersey, highlighted by a burn so red, it’s almost purple. I promptly went out and got sunscreen and after-sun aloe gel (it’s been a lifesaver).

Sunscreen is important, guys.

Sunscreen is important, guys. That weird circle in the middle is from my hair moving around. 

Let’s be serious, guys. Sunburns aren’t cool. They just hurt. And increase your risk of skin cancer. And because skin cancer runs in both sides of my family, I’m going to be marinating in sunscreen before rides now.
Plenty of dermatologists and cosmetologists recommend wearing sunscreen every day, and at least investing in facial lotion with a minimum of 15 spf.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go slather on more aloe gel.


10 crazy-looking bicycles we might actually ride

The cycling community is exploding, and sure enough, people are working to revolutionize the way we see and ride bicycles.

Here are a few I found that we might try out, if they were on the market. Some are available for purchase, and some are still in the concept and design stage.

The Locust Bicycle by Czech designer Josef Cadek.

From TheMetaPicture

From TheMetaPicture

The Revolutionary Folding Bicycle by 21-year-old UK designer Kevin Scott, who won the 2010 runner up in the UK Business Design Center New Designer of the Year award for his design.

From Core77

From Core77

The Bergmönch by KOGA. It folds into a backpack, so it’s perfect for your biking/hiking adventures. However, it doesn’t have a seat so…

From Gear Patrol

From Gear Patrol

The Bowden Spacelander Bicycle by Benjamin Bowden, a mid-century UK bicycle and automobile designer.

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

Concept bikes called Versabikes by designer Nathan Durflinger. I couldn’t find much on this, except that they’re size-adjustable, so you can size it to fit you as you grow, or to fit someone else if you want to sell it.

From Be Sportier

From Be Sportier

The BKR Wood Frame Bicycle by Italian designer Pietro Russomanno. His website is pretty cool and he designs all kinds of things. Check it out!

From Russomanno Design Works

From Russomanno Design Works

This Way by designer Torkel Dohmers. It has a roof!

From Bicycle Design

From Bicycle Design

The FLIZ by German designers Tom Hambrock and Juri Spetter.



The Cardboard Bicycle by Phil Bridge, UK design student at Sheffield Hallam University. It can be produced for less than $30, and won’t get soggy in the rain. Anyone willing to give it a shot?

From The Telegraph

From The Telegraph

The Mantra Bamboo Bicycle, by Stalk Bicycles, some guys who wanted to take eco friendly cycling to the next level.

From Stalk Bamboo Bicycles

From Stalk Bamboo Bicycles

So how about it? Would you ride any of these? I would definitely take the bamboo bike for a test ride.
Did I miss any crazy bikes? Let me know, and we can add it to the list!