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#1088832 - 10/10/07 02:27 AM OT - Glad to be alive
BB Player Offline

Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2919
Loc: Not in Texas
As many of you know, on of my other passions (besides piano) is cycling. I get together several times a year to ride with friends from all around the country. For our fall outing, we chose the Santa Fe, NM area. On our first day of riding, we were just past El Rito and climbing up into the hills when we came to a cattle guard. Being from Texas, I am very familiar with cattle guards and their hazards to bicycles so I gave this one a pretty good look before I got to it. I was out of the saddle (going uphill) and, to make a long story short, the plates that make up the cattle guard separated from front to back (sort of an elongated V) with the widest part of the V being just wide enough to swallow a bike wheel. My wheel went straight into it (the guard was over a ravine so it ate the whole wheel) and the only thing that stopped it was the top of the shifters on the handlebars. This happened in an instant[/b]. The next thing that happened was I slammed into the ground face first from a height of about 7 feet going about 7 MPH.

The result: multiple facial lacerations, brusing, swelling, etc. But more importantly, a fracture of the C1 & C2 vertebrae in my neck. Yes folks, this is the area where if you sever the spine there you're pretty much dead. This would especially have been the case since we were in the middle of nowhere and it would have taken hours to get an ambulance to me. The good news is there doesn't appear to be any damage to the spine (I'm able to type this) though I'll be following up with a local neurosurgeon this week I hopefully will not need surgery.

It ended up taking about 2.5 hours to get to a hospital and I spent 2 days in the hospital before being driven home by my wife. It took the ER doc about 2 hours to sew my face up and I'm in the "neck brace from hell" which I think I'll get to spend a few months wearing.

I've thought a lot about the accident and even with benefit of hindsight I'm not sure there's anything I could have done to avoid it other than perhaps always walk on cattle guards. I wasn't going fast, I scoped it pretty carefully, etc., it was just that it had a gradually widening seam in it that I didn't see.

Bottom line: I was lucky, hopefully everything will heal ok although I'll probably need plastic surgery on my face before its all over. It could easily have been worse. The neurosurgeon in Santa Fe said I was probably done riding for the year. I've not tried playing piano yet (I don't feel very good) but, assuming I'm able to, I should have lots of time to play...

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#1088833 - 10/10/07 02:47 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Lisztener Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 921

Thank the Lord you are still with us dear friend.

Even with your detailed explanation, I can't form a mental picture of what happened since I'm not familiar with a cattle guard.

I've had laminectomies twice in the lumbar region of my back and I'm quite familiar with the importance of an injury to the cervical area of the spine. It's super to see you are recovering...however slowly...and we are all thrilled to hear from you.

My prayers are with you for a complete recovery and a resumption to the C7 Player that we've all come to know and love.

Keep us informed of your progress and let us know when you get back to practicing on the piano.

My humble best wishes to you and yours,


#1088834 - 10/10/07 02:54 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
gerg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/07
Posts: 1651
Loc: Houston, TX

You are very fortunate indeed. Someone was looking out for you that day.

Boy, things like this make us realize how fragile life is, and how any of us could be gone in an instant. Very, very fortunate outcome.

You are very much in our thoughts and prayers, friend. Stay strong and as comfortable as possible, and count your many blessings...

Here is hoping that even this will work out for your good and for the best... and hoping you will indeed recover sufficiently to make return to the bench in the not-too-distant future...

Best wishes,

Wikicital: A collaborative effort to build a knowledgebase of classical music history combined with examples. Your chance to both perform and write...

Don't click here!

#1088835 - 10/10/07 03:56 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Ragnhild Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/22/06
Posts: 1117
Loc: Norway
Greg, it's just so good that you are alive and able to type !
Cycling is a wonderful sport, but unfortunately one of the most dangerous.

All my best wishes for your recovery, I pray that you will very soon enjoy piano playing again !


Trying to play the piano:

#1088836 - 10/10/07 04:44 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1187
Loc: Cornwall, England
Greg, I'm so glad to read that you've survived your horrifying experience without more serious consequences - goodness knows, what you've suffered is bad enough!

I'm a 'sometimes' motorcyclist myself so I'm all too aware of the potential danger inherent in travelling on two wheels, irrespective of speed. In fact, as I get older (56 now) I'm finding that my interest in riding my motorcycle is waning (too many idiots on the roads) and being replaced by an ever increasing commitment to my piano. Nevertheless, at least cycling is a healthy activity - mostly!

I wish you a speedy and complete recovery Greg - take care of yourself for us \:\)


#1088837 - 10/10/07 05:21 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Oxfords Gal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/21/06
Posts: 1553
Loc: Jacksonville, Florida
Thank God you're ok Greg, I'll keep you in my prayers.
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster

#1088838 - 10/10/07 05:38 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
z32 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/07
Posts: 167
Loc: California
I'm so relieved that you made through okay Greg. I'll pray for a speedy and perfect recovery.

#1088839 - 10/10/07 06:59 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
Greg, you're in my thoughts and prayers.

#1088840 - 10/10/07 07:12 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10770
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Thanks for posting this. We're thinking of ya!

#1088841 - 10/10/07 07:32 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
loveschopintoomuch Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/05/06
Posts: 4692
Loc: Illinois
OMG, Greg:

How frightening for you. My husband's heart specialist is an avid cyclist. And just last week, when we had a rainy day, I asked him if he still biked on such a day with all the leaves that made the pavements so slippery. He said he certainly did. No big deal. I wonder if he has a death wish or something.

But, your injuries, especially in the neck are unbelievably dangerous. I've had surgery on C 4-5 and C 5-6 and have a titantium plate to anchor everything. So I have some idea of what you might be going through. But not in C2-3...that's really scary.

Please stick with the piano from now on. You are so important to us and we need you HERE!

I add my prayers to those above.

After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891

#1088842 - 10/10/07 07:35 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Peyton Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 2843
Loc: Maine
Greg, I have no idea what a cattle guard is but I sure as heck they never come to Maine... That thing should be shot!

I feel for you. It sounds pretty bad but as you say, it could have been worse. Good luck in the neck brace from hell. But think of all the great practice time you are going to get on the piano.
"One's real life is often the life that one does not lead."- Oscar Wilde

#1088843 - 10/10/07 07:41 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Greg, I'm happy to hear you're, relatively, ok. Being a fellow Central Texan, we certainly hear our fair share of bicycle related incidents (I ride too, though mainly MTB these days). Unfortunately sometimes getting the most of we want out of life involves a certain level of risk. Whenever you can survive (and function) to tell about it is a good day.

Hope you heal quickly and get back on your feet/bench/two wheels quickly.

#1088844 - 10/10/07 08:12 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
How terrible for you Greg. Thank God you are "OK" if that's the right term.

Healing is not fun either, and takes it's own sweet time, and here's hoping/praying everything heals as it should.

For those who do not know what a cattle guard is, in areas where ranges exist(that is, cattle are allowed to roam freely on property that can be fenced, the roads going through this area provide an excape route for the cattle in addition to being dangerous if the cattle end up on the road. So, the solution is to remove a 5-8 foot section going across the roadway, dig a ditch, and put a grate over it for road traffic. The cattle will see the "dangerous" walkway and will aviod it like the plague. I ride motorcycles, and I know to be very careful on these grates, but my tire is a billion times thicker than Greg's bicycle tire. I know how it can cause a mc to swerve a little (kinda like a bad railroad crossing at an angle), and can only imagine how it must affect a bicycle.

You are indeed lucky Greg. That sounds funny in that you were seriously hurt, but when you think how bad it could have been.....
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

#1088845 - 10/10/07 08:16 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Donna R. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/26/07
Posts: 794

I'm so glad it wasn't worse. I once had a bad fall from my bike and broke a collar bone, cracked some ribs, had a concussion and badly cut up my hands (still have the scars after over 25 years!) so I can sympathize. What's that they keep saying about cycling being good for us?

Hope you'll soon be feeling much better.

#1088846 - 10/10/07 08:25 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Seaside_Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Blackpool, UK
Hi Greg,

Yikes man, that sounds like a nightmare with thankfully a very lucky escape.

Hope you recover soon.


Twitter: @Seaside_Lee

#1088847 - 10/10/07 09:04 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
TThomas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/24/06
Posts: 545
Loc: Richmond, VA

How scary! That is just terrible to hear but thank goodness you're as well as can be expected after such a fall. I guess the disappointment of missing such a beautiful ride is overridden by the relief of knowing just how bad it *could* have been.
Hope you can get your biking legs and piano fingers back quickly and that you suffer no long-term effects.

Best to you,
"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

#1088848 - 10/10/07 09:10 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
rustyfingers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 796
Loc: Massachusetts
Wishing you a speedy and complete recovery.
If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.

#1088849 - 10/10/07 09:22 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Triryche Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/06
Posts: 1456
Loc: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Thank God you’re ok!!
What a reminder of how fragile life is.
Hope you heal quickly and are able to ride again.


#1088850 - 10/10/07 09:24 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Kawaigirl1 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 989
Loc: Toronto
Thank goodness you're alright after that horrifying ordeal

Hope you'll have a speedy recovery.


#1088851 - 10/10/07 10:27 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
TX-Dennis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 4126
Loc: Texas
You have my prayers for a speedy recovery. Something like this makes us realize how precious and fragile life is.

Have you ever done the Fort Davis hill climb thing? My cycling is limited to puttering around with my kid, but we were in Fort Davis a few years back for a weekend. It happened to be the weekend for the event. Dozens of cyclists raced up and down what I believe is the steepest highway in Texas up to the observatory and back down. From my perspective it looked like it would be extremely difficult riding up and terrifying coming back down.

Godspeed in your recovery.


#1088852 - 10/10/07 10:33 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
IrishMak Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/06
Posts: 1614
Loc: New Hampshire, USA
Oh, my, Greg! I am so very glad you are ok- relatively speaking. I'm sure the recovery process will not be fun for a while, but, as you say, it could have been much, much worse! I am just thankful it was not. Prayers for a speedy recovery from NH.

1889 Mason & Hamlin screwstringer upright
Kawai MP-4 digital

When life hands you lemons, throw them back and add some of your own. Stupid life.

#1088853 - 10/10/07 10:34 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Mistaya Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/06
Posts: 198
Loc: Alberta
Also hoping you feel better soon and heal completely. Even when we're knowledgeable and careful, things can still go wrong (horses for me).

#1088854 - 10/10/07 11:36 AM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
jotur Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 6358
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Ai yai yai. I can't say the hospital is the most beautiful scenery in Santa Fe, but I'm glad it's got medical care that took good care of you. I've had close calls with black cattle on the road at night in the open range around here, and even walking over cattle guards for a human can twist ankles - what a scary experience. I'm so glad you're still with us. We want you around for a long time.


Practice like you are the worst; play like you are the best - anonymous

#1088855 - 10/10/07 12:00 PM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Rerun Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 1153
Loc: Louisiana
Hey Greg,

Hope you pull thru this completely and are able to pursue your passions... all of them.

My lower back (spinal-stenosis) forced me to opt out a few years ago to an ultra-safe bike. Most people call it a Schwinn Air-dyne : ). Sometimes I call it various other things, plus the scenery's the pits.

Be safe, my friend....

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD

#1088856 - 10/10/07 12:24 PM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 18116
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Oh my. Greg, I am *so sorry* this happened, and thank God you were not paralyzed. Each and every one of us walks around under a sword of Damocles that we pretend is not there. Life and health is so fragile. Your experience is a great reminder to all of us to be grateful for our time here.

Wishing you a speedy recovery. \:\)
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

#1088857 - 10/10/07 12:55 PM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4462
Loc: Jersey Shore
C1 and C2 is sooooo scary. Glad your ok. Just make sure your totally cleared on the c spine.


#1088858 - 10/10/07 03:45 PM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
Rosanna Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/07
Posts: 1360
Loc: San Francisco Bay area
C7 had a bad encounter with C1 and C2 - Ouch. OK a very bad joke to put a smile on your face, I hope.

Seriously I am very glad you are alright, despite the horrible neck brace and face lacerations. Your lucky star was watching over you. I can relate to such freak accidents. My husband had a near fatal ski accident some years ago and was in the ICU for a month, drugged out to manage the pain. Another friend had a C1 problem and had months of bad symptoms.

I wish you a very speedy recovery. Sending healing thoughts your way.

#1088859 - 10/10/07 04:22 PM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i'm so sorry to hear that. hope you could recover from it soon!

#1088860 - 10/10/07 06:42 PM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
BB Player Offline

Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2919
Loc: Not in Texas
Thanks to all of you for your good wishes and support. Believe me, I realize how lucky I am to have escaped without a much more serious injury. Having said that, life certainly isn't going to be a lot of fun for a very long time.

For those unfamiliar with cattle guards or confused by my description of the accident, here's an example (note that this isn't the "scene of the crime").

See the long metal strip that the crude black arrow points to that runs in the direction of traffic flow? On the cattle guard I went over, that strip was missing. The guard itself is made in sections that are put in place and then the strip that is missing is welded in place to cover the seam. The two plates were joined tightly together at the leading edge of the guard where I was crossing it but were separated at the far side. As I approached the guard, I looked and didn't see any gaps so I assumed it was safe but I didn't look all the way across to the other side of the guard. Once I got into that seam, there was pretty much no escape.

With benefit of hindsight, I was lucky in a number of ways. Obviously lucky not to have fractured the C1/C2 worse than I did and sever the spinal cord. Luck that the friendly old gentleman who gave us directions to the hospital and pounded me on the shoulders several times wishing me "good luck" didn't sever it, lucky that the hospital I went to eventually did decide to check for spinal trauma after letting me walk down to xray a couple of times on my own, etc. Any one of those events could easily have been the end.

Once again, thanks to all for your good wishes. We have a tenuous hold on this life so take advantage of this opportunity to let those around you know you love them and to play the piano!

#1088861 - 10/10/07 10:34 PM Re: OT - Glad to be alive
mr_super-hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4289

I share the same sentiments as others and wish you a speedy recovery, but seriously, how about you and me get together when your all better and blow up that freakin cattle guard to the moon!.

It'll be a lot of fun. You, me, some close friends and a box of M-80's. Maybe then the forrest service will get "the hint" and pay closer attention to safety for ALL of the roads users!.

Just kidding, sort of, well maybe not. Anyway, get better soon.

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