Exactly a month ago, a medium size truck came from the opposite direction and hit my face while I was still on my bike. I passed out at km 54 during my cycling trip to Cirata Dam due to a combination of low blood pressure and a shock of passing a speed bump. I think I was still clipped to my bike when my bike passed the line and cross the other lane. Bang! I was found under the truck with blood running down from my forehead and right eyelid. Fortunately I was still breathing. 

 

My fellow cyclists pulled me and my bike out from under the truck, opened my clipped shoes and pulled me to the pavement next to the truck. According to some stories, I was conscious. They asked me whether it is fine to open my helmet and I nodded. Nothing I remember about that life and death experience surely. 

I started remembering what happen when I opened my eyes in a running down clinic. I laid down in a small bed surrounded with some people, nurses, a security guard, and my fellow cyclists. A nurse approached me and asked an emergency contact number. Slipped into my mind my mom so I responded that I want to call her but I do not remember my mom’s phone number. But then I realise that I could give my dad’s contact too so I did so. Within seconds someone pressed his phone number and went out to talk to him. 

My left chest and a right rib bone were in a serious pain. Not so much blood all over but two cuts on my right eyelid were worrying. People in the clinic offered me to stitch them up. But I refused. I thought it would be better to have stitches in a large hospital. I insisted. They covered the wound and people arranged a car to carry me immediately to the hospital in Bandung, 50km away. It took about an hour and a half until I and a few fellow cyclists reached Bandung. We went to a hospital where my parents were waiting and I waited a few hours until I get those painful stitches by a plastic surgeon.

I write this blog as a self-reminder of preparing myself mentally and physically before a long ride. I hope this benefits other cyclists too. There are several hard lessons learned from this experience which should not be ever repeated by myself or other people who love cycling on the road:

1. Never ignore body signals

The biggest mistake is that I ignored my body signals. They were strong a few days before the accident: some slight dizziness and instability. I stayed tune in front of my laptop screen for more than 7 hours per day. I thought brain work would not drain my energy that much, but that is only an illusion. A long hour desk work affects my stamina. While to be safe, a long ride needs great stamina to ensure we fully concentrate with all conditions on the street.

2. Solid food intake before the ride

I admit that I did not have sufficient solid food intake a day before the long ride. Low blood pressure kicked in perhaps that resulted in slight dizziness and instability. Low carb diet easily becomes a habit and eating too much carb creates a feeling of sleepy after eating. I kept avoiding eating too much carb just until a meal or two before the ride, but I then now I realise it is a total mistake. 

3. Two breakfasts ain’t enough

I ate two large breakfasts before the long ride; one at 3am and the other one at 5am before I left. Still these two large breakfasts weren't enough to increase the low blood pressure in the short period. I guess the stomach still digesting the food from two breakfasts when I started sitting on the saddle. 

4. Continuously eat during the ride

A cycling trip can be so joyful. Great scenery along the way and the fact that eating may reduce speed for some people and this makes eating and drinking during cycling less favourable. Severe dehydration and suffering from shorts of vitamin and minerals in our body during cycling endanger ourselves. The first half of my trip was not a difficult one; lots of down hill and hence I thought I only need a few sips of water and a banana. For sure this is a wrong thought. For the next ride, I will maintain my discipline with food intake (i.e. eating every 30 minutes to maintain stamina). I think this is also another important learning.

5. Have enough sleep and rest

The day I went for the trip. I simply did not have enough sleep. I sleep at 11.30pm and I woke up at 4.45am. This adds to many other mistakes I had made. A discipline in sleeping time is a must before the race to catch 7 hours of a good deep sleep. Maybe I do not feel it was a major problem before such like in a race when I sleep a little because of the nerve before the race. But I guess that is quite different. A long ride needs much more self-awareness because there will be no marshall around. 

Some scars get healed, the pain is eventually gone, but the worry of the people who love us needs to be taken into account. Be discipline with these items is part of responding to their worry and loving them back without leaving the thing I love, riding a bike.