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Why you should ride with a cycle helmet on…

March 30, 2018

On Sunday 25 March I decided to go for a bike ride. When we came to SF for YCombinator we all bought our bikes but we have been so busy with work that I’d been out on my bike for about 30 minutes total in almost 3 months. My flight home was on Monday so I decided that I’d try get a ride in.

IMG_8386Most of my colleagues had ridden Old La Honda road and said the climb was doable so I decided to give it a go (in fact there reference to this in one of Sam’s earlier iterations of our YC demo day pitch). As I huffed and puffed my way up ( I’m definitely not (Bike) fit) I was adamant I’d make it to the top. It was a long steady incline relentless for about 3 non stop miles. I battled my demons who were telling me to turn round and just enjoy the down from those points.

I made it to the top and then took the decent down the other side. It had been raining, the ground was wet so I took it easy (plus it was very quiet on these paths/roads). I made it off the mountain and was gradually making my way home. I stopped for a couple of tourist photos enjoying the fact I was less than 3 miles from home. Topped up my water and carried on.

I remembered admiring the interstate sign on the road I crossed. Sat at the traffic lights I wondered if I should stop to take a photo as they looked pretty cool up close. I didn’t. Lights went green I carried on…

…‘Hello, hello’ a voice I could hear talking to me. Oh sh*t where am I I thought, my face stinging and my lip feeling like it was a balloon. ‘Hello Neil, hello’, I grumble something. ‘What’s going on am I ok’. I was lying on the floor in the road somewhere. I roughly remember a conversation that was had between who I can only imagine was the paramedic and the woman who found me. ‘Did you see what happened’ he asked ‘No she said I just found him lying on the floor by his bike and called you’.

I have no idea how much time has passed by this point. Stitching what I can from different events on my Garmin and the fact that I apparently called Sam (and spoke to him) at 1230 I took this photo at 12:15 approx 2/3 mins before I went down. I lost 12 minutes of my life…

IMG_8378At this point I have absolutely no idea what is going on. People talking to me. Can you wiggle your fingers, yes, can you wiggle your toes yes. Obviously I assumed I could as they didn’t say otherwise, when I think about it now ok reflection I was in no state to really know if I could or couldn’t. I went into panic mode, this was bad, Laura, my wife, Emily and Daisy, my kids were thousands of miles away I needed to let them know as Laura would soon be heading to bed and I was petrified. As I said already, I was due to be flying home the day after, I haven’t seen my family for over three weeks and I couldn’t wait. I was crying, not sure whether the paramedics really understood why but I’m sure I kept on saying I need to fly tomorrow I need to fly tomorrow. I wanted them here with me but knew that wasn’t going to be possible.

Don’t remember much of the ambulance journey other than being cold, they asked me to memorise a colour (or I should say color) green and they asked me a few times which I assume is basic brain testing. We got to Stanford Hospital, I was on spinal board with a collar on and they transferred me to another bed. I went and had a CT scan straight away and they gave me X-rays. I had no idea how badly Injured I was as the collar meant I couldn’t really move (in fact the first glimpse I got was the photo right at the bottom that I asked Sam to take for me)

Miraculously I had not broken anything. A lot of road rash down the left hand side of my body, two fairly chipped front teeth and the need for a few stitches but somehow I got away with a miracle…Why then the title you may ask. See picture of my helmet…
I think it did the job it was meant to do. It’s no longer usable and cracked right through but that could so easily have been my head. It wasn’t. I had minor concussion, lots of bruising but allowed to leave the hospital by about 6pm looking like this:5B2E9AC1-55C0-4775-9599-55569244009E

Now I have been fairly selective about these photos to make sure everyone who wants to see them has done but given I’m home and totally fine apart from the cuts and scratches to show for it I feel it worth sharing. Mainly to reinforce the importance of wearing a helmet I want to share what I think it the Holy F*ck photo. If you don’t like blood look away now /scroll down really quickly.

Anyway. Roll on 24 hours. I’m writing this on a plane 2hr 25 to go. Far from the comfy journey I was hoping for I have managed to sleep a few times but getting comfy is tough as I have a lot of bruising going on and even with a lot of pain killers it’s impossible to get into a good position. Never mind. Did I mention – HOME IN 2hr 25!!!!

At this point I’d like to thank nurse Sam Browne, he went out of his way in what I’m sure was meant to be a busy day of calls to ensure he was with me at all point and kept in touch with Laura. Laura for being so understanding, she must have been, deservedly, petrified being 5000 miles from me 8 hour time difference and an 11 hour flight away. Last but not least the drs and nurses at Stanford University hospital who had to put up with me. I’m sure I would have been hard enough for them to understand without a swollen lip but they must have been really confused by my cockney sarcastic chat! Well done all.

ababd304-10a4-42fc-b9e1-eb0a7c6f25a0Obv I’m going to have to take a rest for a few weeks now to allow my body to heal. I suspect it’s going to take a bit to get me back on the bike especially as I’m unclear as to what happened. Was it a hit and run (perfectly plausible), did I hit something in the road and tumble (possibly but hard to understand how my helmet cracked where it did), did I collapse (garmin didn’t show any big increase/drop in heart rate). Regardless of this I’m sure I will do at some point as we discuss these things in the office almost daily. What I will do is sign this blog off with the same headline as I stated.


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