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I Want To Ride My Bicycle

Bicycle Race (I Want To Ride My Bicycle) by Queen

It has been seven weeks since I crashed on the descent of Fraser’s Hill.  My recovery has been slow, but that is not surprising given the extent of the injury to my left arm and shoulder.

I spent the first two weeks trying to do physical therapy.  Unsuccessfully because of the pain in my shoulder.  So the rotator cuff injury was treated with a Ultrasound Guided Left Glenohumeral Joint Injection. This is a fancy name for injecting steroids into the joint capsule to reduce inflammation and pain. In my case inflammation and pain in the long head of the biceps tendon.

Diagram courtesy of

The steroid injection did the trick.  The inflammation and pain subsided in a few days, and I was able to work on increasing the range of motion in my left shoulder.

However the rotator cuff injury was the lesser of my concerns.  I also had a Brachial Plexus injury.  This was the more serious injury.  The injury that was causing muscle weakness, finger numbness, and neuropathic pain.

I already knew that I had been extremely lucky not to have been more seriously injured in the crash.  My orthopedic surgeon pointed out yet another lucky escape.  A frequent outcome of high-speed falls is the complete tearing of the nerve root from the  spinal cord.  This is known as an avulsion, and can cause pain and loss of function in the arms, shoulders, and hands.  Neuropathic pain can be treated with medication, but muscle function can only be restored through surgical reattachment or nerve grafts.

Fortunately mine was a stretching injury rather than a tearing injury.  It has taken a while, but the nerves are repairing themselves.  I am regaining muscle strength, although there is some way to go before my arm is 100% again.

More importantly the neuropathic pain, which at times had been debilitating, has stopped.

So my upper body is ready to handle a bike ride.  At least a short one to start with.

But since the Fraser’s Hill crash another, unrelated issue has presented itself.  An issue that is going to keep me off my bikes for a while longer.

A month ago I had surgery to drain an anorectal abscess.  The formation of the abscess was unrelated to my cycling.  It was just an unfortunate coincidence that the abscess developed so soon after my crash.

If all goes well, the cavity formed by the abscess heals from the inside within a few weeks.  However in approximately 50% of cases, patients will develop a fistula after the abscess has been drained.  The fistula prevents the cavity from healing.  Which is what has happened to me.  So I will have a second surgery on Friday to repair the fistula.

The initial indication is that the type of fistula that I have is easy to repair.  My surgeon will have a more definitive view after my operation.  Hopefully I will be back on my bike six weeks after the operation.

Graphic courtesy of Christopher Martin at

Graphic courtesy of Christopher Martin at

Better an Ounce of Luck Than a Pound of Gold

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After more than four years of fall-free cycling, not counting the tumbles I took when I first started using clipless pedals, I have had two crashes in as many months.  The first is described in Oh 🔥💀💣💩⚡!!  I was lucky to come away from that crash with only two injuries of note.  The bruise on my upper thigh turned into a haematoma that needed draining twice before it healed into a lump of scar tissue.  What I thought was a slightly separated shoulder turned out to be a rotator cuff injury.  I had some pain and restricted movement of the left arm, but nothing that required me to stop riding.

“What about the bike” you ask?  My bike had only two injuries of note as well.  A broken right shifter and brake, and a front rim that needed to be trued.  Both of which were expertly repaired by Husher and his crew at Meng Thai Bicycle Centre.

Since that crash I did a lot of rides, including the Shah Alam Enduride 2014, the Klang Premiere Century Ride 2014, and the Kuantan Century Ride 2014.  All without incident.  There was no reason to expect that the climb from Kuala Kubu Bahru to Fraser’s Hill and back would be any different.

The first time I did the Fraser’s Hill ride was in February 2013.  I was looking forward to seeing if my revised hydration regimen would get me to the top in better shape than I was the first time.

All went well on the way up.  I was able to hold a faster average speed, and did get to the clock tower without cramping this time.  My rear tire had a slow leak after our stop for coffee at the stall at the Gap.  The 8 kilometers from the Gap to the clock tower is the steepest part of the climb.  I elected to make a couple of stops to pump more air into the tire, rather than change the tube whilst in a sweaty mess.  I swapped tubes at the top before we made the final short climb to the food court for lunch.  A piece of fine wire that looked like it came from a casing or a car of truck tire was the culprit.

All was going well on the way down.  The food court is at 1,290 meters above sea level. The Gap is at 860 meters above sea level.  The road between the two is 12 kilometers of descending delight.  Lots of sweeping curves, but with a few tight ones as well.  Riders have to stay alert for the tight turns, and areas where the road surface is less than optimal.

Frasers Hill Crash

I made it down to 995 meters.  As I came into a left-hand turn at 50kph my front tire gave out.  Perhaps I had picked up a piece of that fine wire in the front as well.  I’ll never know.

I do know I had that “Oh 🔥💀💣💩⚡ !!” moment before I started preparing as well as I could for the inevitable crash.

There are lots of articles on the web about how to fall off your bike.  These are the things they all tell you.

Wear a helmet.  Excellent advice.  This is what my helmet looked like after the crash.


Much better the helmet cracked rather than my head.  All I had was a slight bruise on my right temple.

Wear your cycling gloves.  Gloves will provide some protection for your hands.  I wasn’t wearing gloves.  I didn’t scrape my hands because I did the following three things.

Choose your surface.  I did not want to fall onto the tarmac.  As my bike started sliding I worked to stay upright long enough to get to the side of the road.  I managed to feather my braking so my tires kept rolling rather than sliding out from under me.  I also tried to steer so that I was as parallel as possible to the curb.  The last thing I remember seeing before impact was the concrete curb and open drain that I was flying over.  And that I was going to land on the grassy verge.

Don’t lock your elbows and knees.  I fell on head and right shoulder first.  Grass and mud were jammed into the large ventilation slot on the right side of my helmet, and there was a grass stain on my right shoulder.  The rest of my jersey was unmarked.  Oddly enough my first thought was that I had broken my left arm.  My upper arm hurt the most.  A quick check showed that my left arm was intact.  As were my other limbs and my collar bones.

I didn’t land on my hands.  I had no cuts or scrapes on my elbows or knees.  I had scratches on my calves, which I can only assume came from my lower legs running through a thorny plant.  I assume that I rolled on impact, which dissipated some of the force of the crash.

Tuck your head.  This is to protect your neck.  I must admit this must have been an unconscious reflex.  Or I was lucky not to land on my face.  My neck is intact, but as you can see from the x-ray of the back of my neck, the vertebrae weren’t exactly in a straight line.

JM Neck

Practice falling.  This is the last piece of advice from the web.  I think I have practiced enough.

The outcome of this 50kph shunt was that my upper back was incredibly sore for a week.  I sprained every muscle in my neck and shoulder blades.  I also aggravated the rotator cuff injury.  So I have a limited range of motion in my left shoulder.  I also severely compressed the nerves leading from my neck to my left arm.  That was the cause of the burning pain in my upper arm at the time of the crash.  I have ongoing numbness and tingling in my left hand, weakness in that arm, and pain in the areas illustrated below.

Illustration courtesy of at

Illustration courtesy of at

The short-term outcome of my visit to the orthopedic surgeon is a collection of pills.

Methycobal 500mg

Methycobal.  500mg three times a day, to help with nerve repair.

Myonal 50mg

Myonal.  50mg three times a day to help relax muscles which are spasmodic.

Celebrex 200mg

Celebrex.  200mg twice a day to combat inflammation.

Ultracet 375mg

Ultracet.  375mg three times a day to combat pain.

Motilium 10mg

Motilium.  10mg three times a day to combat nausea caused by the Ultracet.

The longer-term outcome is physiotherapy three times per week.  This includes decompression of the vertebrae in my neck through traction, and treatment of the rotator cuff injury with laser, ultrasound and electrotherapy.

And perhaps most painful of all – no bike riding until the injuries heal.

It could have been much, much worse though.  I could have crashed on the valley side of the road and fallen who knows how far down the side of the hill.  I could have hit a tree, or a guard rail, or a electricity pole.  I could have crashed on the tarmac.  On my face.

I was very, very lucky.  Hence the title of this post.  A Yiddish saying that I now firmly believe in.

After my last crash I resolved to ‘Look Forward’ whenever I am on a bike.  After this crash I added a second mantra . . .



“What about the bike” you ask?  No damage to the bike, apart from some scratches on the left front fork.

How does that Yiddish saying go again?


Oh 🔥💀💣💩⚡!!

I started riding a road bike in January 2010.  Since then I have ridden more than 28,000 km.  I have had some close calls, but had never crashed.  I commented on this fact last week to my biker chick.  Perhaps a bit too smugly.  I should have known better.

About a dozen of us were at the mid-point of the Janamanjung Fellowship Ride.  We had just restarted a pace line after a rest stop.  I was second or third wheel.  I don’t know why, but we started to slow down.  31.5 kph became 20 kph over the span of about 60 metres.  I don’t remember slowing down.  I do remember glancing to my left for a second to look at a rider who seemed to be struggling.  That split second of inattention was all it took.  I touched wheels with Mark, and went down.



I landed on my left thigh and hip, and banged my head hard on the tarmac as I rolled at least once onto the grass verge.

Once I got over the initial shock I checked for damage.  I had a grazed left knee, a long graze on my left hand, a graze on the point of my left hip, a rapidly swelling bruise on my upper left thigh, a small cut on my left eye brow, scratches on both palms, and a long graze on my right forearm below the elbow.

This photo was relatively soon after the crash.  The medics hadn’t arrived yet, and I was still in a bit of a daze.

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

The medics were soon on the scene.  Thy put iodine on the visible grazes, and a bandage on my knee.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

If I were a true cyclist I would have checked my bike for damage before worrying about myself.

Immediately obvious to me was the broken right brake / shifter body.  The shifter was twisted inward, so it took a hefty hit.

JMFR 2014 Crash Shifter

Fortunately the brake and shifter still worked, despite the body being held in place by cable tension.

My buddies noticed that the chain had slipped off the chain rings and below the chain catcher, and that the front derailleur was out of alignment.  They whipped out hex wrenches and very quickly got the chain back onto the big ring, and running clear of the front derailleur.

As bike and I were getting patched up, I was told that Chon, also went down behind me.  He had a broken right shifter too.  Chon’s son, Kai Yang, and Jason had in turn ridden over my bike, but stayed upright.  Kai Yang had a flat tire to deal with as a result.

I did two little repair jobs.  The first was to straighten my handlebar, which was facing left of centre.

The second repair came after I got going again.  The front wheel was out of true.  As I was fiddling with a spoke wrench (never leave home without one), Jason told me that he had ridden over my front wheel, and that Kai Yang had too.

Needless to say I am impressed with the durability of my Boyd wheels.  The only evidence that two guys had ridden over my front wheel, apart from it being out of true, are some marks on the brake track.

JMFR 2014 Crash Front Wheel

No broken or loose spokes.  I was able to reduce the wobble enough for the wheel to turn without rubbing against the brake pads.  And that wheel carried me the remaining 60 km to the finish line.

I took a look at the rest of my kit once I got home.  My helmet did its job.  The damage looks cosmetic only, but this is a good excuse to get a new helmet.

JMFR 2014 Crash Helmet

I landed hard on my left hip and upper thigh.


I would have expected a hole or two in my cycling kit.  What surprised me was that my bib shorts show no sign of scraping along some tarmac.


It was fortunate that I had arm screens on.  I am sure those helped me keep skin on my arms.  I have some grazes on my right elbow, and some marks on the back of my left upper arm, but again, minimal evidence of a fall on the arm screens.  A small hole in one arm screen is all.


I’ll be writing to both Boyd and Rapha to commend them on the durability of their products.

I am not as durable.  I’ve been pretty sore for a few days.  The good news is that the doctor at Gleneagles Accident & Emergency confirmed that I haven’t broken anything.  It is just a matter of waiting for the haematoma on my thigh to reduce.  I also have a slightly separated shoulder, which will sort itself out on its own.

Some would say that given the amount of group riding that I do, a crash was inevitable.  My crash was the result of a schoolboy error on my part though.  I would have avoided it if I hadn’t been distracted and took my eyes off the rider in front of me.

So my mantra while cycling will be . . .

Graphic courtesy of Rouie at

Graphic courtesy of Rouie at