In the fall of 2014, Adelaide Perr survived a horrific crash while out riding near Boulder. We’re proud to host Adelaide to share her story and lessons learned at this month’s YGR Live on May 16th. Below, she shares a small piece of her recovery story.
I was involved in a crash with a car while riding on October 18, 2014 on US36 headed into Lyons. While I laid in a sedated coma for five days, my family warned my fiance Kennett that I may never get back on a bike. Even if my injuries weren’t debilitating, the fear of being unprotected out on the road with cars and trucks careening past might be. However, many of my best memories in the year prior to the crash had been made on the bike, so when I finally woke up in intensive care I set my mind to riding again.
In the year leading up to the crash I’d been training as a bike racer. When my car died the prior February, Kennett and I also became full-time bike commuters. I wasn’t at fault in my crash, so the trust I had in my bike handling skills remained intact. Still, I had experienced severe facial trauma during the crash and had a feeding tube inserted into my stomach during surgery. When I was released from the hospital my nose was still splinted, my eyes swollen, my body hunched, and my brain dulled from consistent pain medication. I wasn’t able to get back on the bike until Monday, November 24th, five weeks after the crash. The destination was a gym about a half-mile from our apartment and the plan was for me to attend the strength class my friend Krista coached. Kennett came along as my second set of eyes and my bodyguard.
“Kennett, I think we missed the turn! Or did we? Can we go through on the next street?” The gym was only a few turns away, but it had been so long since I’d ridden that I couldn’t even get my directions straight. So instead, we took the route I would if I’d driven. It was a slight uphill and into the wind. The hood on my gray puffy jacket got in my vision when I tried to turn my head to look behind me before making a turn. It didn’t matter much because I couldn’t turn my head enough to see traffic anyway due to my injured shoulder. So Kennett told me when to cross and made the move before me so I was confident enough to follow. He dropped me off in front of the door like a mother would with her preschooler at the school entrance. The class itself was similar to preschool in the sense that it was a way to keep me occupied and social without being difficult. I could barely do any of the moves because I still had my stomach feeding tube in, so most of it was simply stretching my legs. On the way home, I took the backroads and managed to keep my balance on the bike. Getting back on the bike may have taken over a month, but it actually coincided with my driving again. The afternoon after my first bike ride I drove to Byron Thomas’ massage therapy office and it was only my second time behind the wheel.
I wasn’t scared to be back on the bike when I rode to Krista’s class because I knew Kennett was watching for me. The fear didn’t exist on the way home either, because I was traveling through quiet residential streets with a designated bike lane. Instead, I felt the freedom that a bike offers. Cycling isn’t my fear, but traffic I’m still working on.
In my talk an YGR Live, I’ll go into detail about how I’ve learned to handle traffic since being hit.