Sunday, July 10, 2011

more on the crash...and the aftermath

Well, so much for Ironman #21! Even my original plans for Ironman #22 (Full Vineman at the end of this month) have been altered due to the most spectacular DNF ever at Ironman Korea. It's now one week after the accident, where it was more me hitting a car rather than the car hitting me. Now that I'm much more healed up and saw the parents briefly on my SFO layover on the way home (so they knew I was ok!) I can post up some gory photos from the bike vs. car crash:

the first post-crash photo taken by big bro Michael Wright
That was after I was released from the hospital and most of the blood had already been wiped from my head and neck. "What exactly happened?" everyone keeps asking, and so I don't have to keep repeating myself, here is the story:

I was nearly done with the bike. Maybe a mile to go to transition (yes, out of 112 miles). Since it was a 2-loop bike, there was a fork where you went left to do your second loop and right to finish. This was a weird 5-way intersection at the bottom of a hill (from the direction I was going) which was heavily manned with cops and volunteers controlling traffic. There was a minivan stopped at the intersection. I was biking pretty fast downhill, hugging the right side of the road, heading towards the right of this minivan to go to the bike finish, when it begins to make a right turn into my path. I made the split-second decision to go to the left of it, while screaming and hitting the brakes...but just ran out of time.

my first self-portrait taken, post-crash and pre-shower. ouch!

The next thing I knew I was lying on the ground (I was still screaming for at least 5 seconds), there was shattered glass all around me and something warm was dripping off my head, which I knew instinctively was blood. I tried not to move much in case I had a spinal injury, and as my eyes looked up there was a lot of blood pooling on the pavement and all over my right hand and arm. It was pretty freakin' disturbing--I've been cycling for nearly a dozen years now and have never been in bike accident with a car. When the ambulance finally came and I got carried onto a stretcher, I saw that the rear window of the minivan was completely shattered. Whoa did I do that?!

White Tiger sacrificed his aerobars for me.
Piecing together info from other competitors who had actually saw the accident, and seeing the damage on White Tiger (my bike), it seems that instead of going to the right or left of the car, I hit the rear windshield somewhat dead-center. The aerobars hit first (they snapped) and my bike and body then got launched upwards and forwards, and my head went through the windshield before we all bounced back onto the ground. In hindsight having that windshield there and smashing it with my chin probably saved me from spinal cord or brain damage...or worse. (I just saw an episode of House MD where a BMX biker was internally decapitated from a blow to the chin. YIKES.)

the elbow stitches...not so pretty but they'll do
My original report on stitches was wrong--I got 16 total stitches, 11 in my chin and 5 in my elbow. My right knee was pretty badly bruised (probably from hitting the top tube of White Tiger) and I have some mild bruising elsewhere, and smaller cuts all over my neck which have all healed by now. The unanimous consensus is that I got off extremely lucky, which is why I am not that upset about the whole thing. I don't know if it was the cops' fault for not enforcing traffic or the driver's fault for not listening, but at this point I am just extremely grateful that I managed to escape the incident with pretty minimal injuries.

the chin stitches...which made me look like I had blue chin hairs
I got my chin stitches taken out yesterday by the Sherpa and his mom (who is a nurse) and everyone says it looks really good--the Korean doc did an awesome stitch job. The elbow ones come out in another week and then I'm allowed to swim again. My knee is looking much better and the swelling and discoloration has come down quite a bit...still a bit stiff, but walking on it is totally fine, stairs are a little tricky. White Tiger is parked on the Cycleops trainer for a little bit while we both get fixed. It turns out that it wasn't just the aerobar extensions that got busted but the base bar replacement parts are needed but I can only do about 30mins easy spinning right now after applying some heat to help mobilize the knee.

the worst bruising was 3 days post-crash
Coach Beck is starting me on a light recovery program starting tomorrow, which is also my first day of work! So it works out well, as I'll be easing back into work again full-time (32hrs/week is considered full-time!) while also training and racing. In the meantime, thanks everyone for all the nice messages and hugs and concern. I am really ok and I will be ok! Most of the pics here were taken within a couple days of the accident; I'll put up newer ones later this week to keep you updated on my progress.

Sharing Haamonii...the best way to make everyone
feel better after a bike/car crash or Ironman!


  1. Wow, a Guy at the Cambridge triathlon back in I think, 2001, died in almost identical situation except it was a car with a trunk....

  2. You are in good company - the day before the 2005 Tour de France, Jan Ulrich went through the back window of a team car that suddenly stopped in front of him. He ended up in the back seat!

  3. So glad you (and White Tiger) weren't hurt worse! Rock on!

  4. Wongstar, simple statement from your fan in Canada. Awesome!
    I laughed when I saw your swim time, as I struggle with this discipline too. You have your best swim ever and then,,,,,,, Of course, I would kill to swim a 1:02

    Will keep following you on your journey, you are fun and inspirational, even to us older farts.