“May I make a phone call first?” I asked the doctor as he had just explained that I would need surgery. I had participated in the “Kankavli magic”, a 200km Brevets Randonneurs Mondiaux (BRM) ride. The short rest at the 100km control point had done me good. I realised on my way back that I had a pleasant tail wind. No wonder I had been pushing hard thus far. I did over 30km per hour when I hit a deep pothole. The image of it was somewhat hidden between the shadows on the roads. It was more like a crater. I saw it too late.
My friends explained I had somersaulted. I could not remember. The next thing I knew I was sitting dazed on the side of the road attended by Terence who apparently had just cycled by in the opposite direction. “Can you move your arm up?” he asked. “Sure” I said as I lifted my right arm. “No, the other arm” he said. That proved tricky. I couldn’t. I touched my shoulder and it felt as if I had two acromonia instead of one. That was the end of my ride. A tube was used as a sling to support my arm. Vinayak and Dr Pankaj who had attended the control post drove me the remaining almost 100km back to the hospital in Panaji.
At the hospital they cleaned me up. I had a few open wounds on my left side which was obviously where my body had hit the road. More serious bruises slowly turning dark blue and purple were on the inside of my legs making me wonder how I had landed. A male nurse tried to give me an intravenous painkiller. In search of the vein he stabbed the needle deep into my hand. Not a drop of blood came out. I was not surprised as I could see the angle of the needle.
Dr Pankaj came back with a worried look. The x-ray showed I had broken my collarbone. The news also broke my last bit of hope to be able to participate in the ‘Bliss in the Hills’ ride, a gruelling but stunning 1200km ride from Bangalore to Ooty in the ghats of South India. That is when I made my phone call.
The same evening I was on a flight to Mumbai. “They can easily mess it up. Better you come to Mumbai to see Deepak Bhatia” my friend Dr Anant Joshi of Sportsmed had said. Both Joshi and Bhatia are highly skilled specialists in arthroscopy and sports medicine. Joshi is also an avid cyclist (see Montra Tour of Nilgiris with Dr Anant Joshi).
On the sideboard at the Sportsmed doctor’s room I spotted a drawing of a penny-farthing cycle with the Einstein’s text ‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving‘. Joshi had just returned from a cycling trip to Ladakh with his newly acquired full carbon mountain bike. The pictures he had taken were absolutely stunning. You really felt like going there immediately. But then there was the issue of my broken clavicle and, as Bhatia announced, the issue of my rib fracture.
The shoulder wound was not as superficial as the rest. It was actually quite bad. Before they could perform surgery to put together the clavicle pieces with a plate the wound had to heal. The rib, the most painful part actually, would have to heal naturally. Mentally excruciating was the message “No cycling for at least two months”.
As I flew back home I thought of all the fun rides I had with the guys of Cycling Goa. A wide variety of guys coming together for the love of pushing their bikes. Some on road bikes others on mountain bikes. A few, like me, pushing hard and most cycling at a relaxed pace. There is always lots of laughter, goodwill and camaraderie. I am jealous of the Whatsapp messages inviting people to join them for an early morning ride. Pained to be unable to join. Determined though to get back into the saddle as fast as I can.