Sunday, May 27, 2012


I got to see another part of the island of Tobago today, but not exactly by choice. On my fourth of eight loops on the bike a car swerved in front of me. There was a concrete ditch to my left, leaving no bailout option. Rather than slam into the car, I grabbed a handful of brakes, launching myself straight over the bars. I somehow did a sprawling, semi-face plant, although my hands and elbow must have taken the brunt of the fall seeing as how much skin is missing from them. My bike landed in the ditch behind me.

My first thought as I started to remove gravel and rocks from my mouth was "ohhhhhh I'm going to look like a hockey player many teeth are missing?!" Amazingly none. Next thought was "Collarbones?!" Again - no issues! Did I seriously just launch over my bars, slide across the ground for what felt like 50 feet and end up with nothing broken?

There was a police man standing next to me and seeing as I knew he might be able to see better than I how much damage I had done I said "How bad?" (Of course I was still thinking I could hop back on my bike and be in the race at this point.) He looked at me and said "I can't tell - there is mud and blood all over you." Hmmm, where was the blood coming from? I looked down at my arms - large chunks of skin missing from both hands, elbow, etc. Oh well, that must be it. Oh, and right hip - my jersey was torn to shreds and I could see a deep gash. He got me some water to wash some of the mud off. Then I climbed back on the bike and started riding toward transition.

At this point I was having a massive mental battle as to whether to pull out and get medical attention, or stay in the race, finish and then go to medical. I actually did another loop riding with one arm while I contemplated all this. I think I get this stubbornness from my 98 yr old grandmother. Someday it may help me, but today it was stupid. Finally Ian came by on his last loop and yelled at me to get myself into medical. It was not what I wanted to hear, and I kept going for a bit. He told me later that a spectator yelled at him "Hey mon, she is not listening to you!" I knew he was right though, I finished that loop and went to medical.

Removing rocks from my hip at the race site.

My Tobago ambulance ride. Might be hard to tell but my lip is massively swollen.

Once at the hospital they took my wet kit off. That was the point I discovered the road rash across the entire front of me. Ouch. It took about an hour to clean all the wounds up and remove 7 rocks from my hands and elbows. I thought the hip would be the most painful - it had NOTHING on the hand. They were digging around with a needle in the raw flesh on my hand for what felt like an eternity. At one point the nurse finally took a break and worked on my leg for a bit because I needed a break from the pain. I'm not going to post pictures of the wounds because honestly, they make me a bit queasy.

Since they took my wet kit off (and it is destroyed anyway) I was delivered back to the race site in only a hospital gown - completely bandaged. I wandered around in my gown looking for my Zoot bag with some clean clothes in it. I really wish I had a photo of this, as I'm sure I looked hilarious.

I am sad that I can't spend my last few days on the island floating around in the ocean or exploring on my bike. But I realize I am incredibly lucky. What could have ended a million times worse really will just see me walking around looking like a mummy for a few weeks. Both hands are bandaged, my right arm, my hip, etc. I know they will heal and stop hurting eventually.

As always when I race, I have made some wonderful new friends from different parts of the world and I love this about the sport of triathlon.

Thank you to my sponsors - thankfully I did not destroy too much of myself or my gear today!


Steve said...

Sorry about that outcome, I have been there before. Wiped out on a moped with no helmet on. Had to dig stones out of me too. I only drove the thing down the street, and crashed turning. Always wore a helmet while biking since. I never drive mopeds either. :)
Showers are really going to suck now. :)

Hope you heal quickly, and get back to it. :)

solarpowered said...

OUCH is right! But I'm so glad you didn't break anything. I'm STILL dealing with the effects of my bike crash in March -- broken elbow is healing, but right wrist is not. :(

Scrapes really hurt, but you'll be back at it in no time, thank goodness!!!

Damie said...

oh my gosh!!!!!!! I am so glad you do not have anything broken. Speedy healing.

Leana said...

Oh no!!!! Ouch! I hope you heal up quickly!!


You are certainly lucky. How many loops again? Pretty short. You would have thought they would have had better car control. Now on that island is it Tobagan law that you get a chicken from the guy that pulled out in front of you?
Keep smiling and heal up soon

Kim said...

Oh charisa, im so glad you are (mostly) ok. Rest and heal!

Kate said...

Oh no! I'm really glad it was just a lot of scrapes and no broken bones. Heal up fast so you can get back out there!

GoBigGreen said...

OMG you poor thing. So sorry:( I can agree 1000% on the hand stuff. When i had hand surgery this winter it was the worst pain i have ever had and i still get it when i hit potholes, those nerves! REst up and keep that smile, you will be back in no time.

Mandi Runs said...

Oh crap! So glad you are okay, and I'm glad you got out of the race and took care of yourself... sometimes that is the hardest thing to do! Heal fast :)))

Hong said...

All the best to a speedy recovery Charisa! Sucks that they didn't close off the traffic for the race :(

Wendy said...

Glad to hear that you made the most of it and the scene of you walking around in the hospital gown looking for your bag is priceless!

Two years ago my husband wasn't so lucky- and he met the full force of the car while training for a 70.3.

See story here-

No hospital gown stories to compare, but I'll say that the nursing home ones (for rehab) are funnier than all get out. Put an ex-Special Forces super competetive triathlete in a nursing home with a desire to GET OUT and he'll find a way... or several! :-)

Good Luck with the healing and resting. :-)



Christi said...

I am so sad that you had this accident but glad that is was not worse.

Rest and heal up and I will make sure to send many healing prayers your way.

Christina said...

goodness... glad you're OK! It sounds like you did some quick thinking to avoid running into the car.

Snakebite said...

A lot of roadies convert from the dark side to become mountain bikers. It looks like you're now on your way. We crash like that all of the time! Most of us don't go Far Away to convert, though.

Get well soon.

Lisa said...

Wishing you a speedy recovery!

Caroline said...

Charisa, I am so sorry about the accident, sounds painful, painful :( Heal up fast!

JC said...

WOW - so glad that the damage (to you) was minimal. Rest/heal up! Hugs!

Clair said...

Ouch! So glad you're ok. We have matching chin abrasions. Hope you're healed soon.