Cleanup In Aisle Knee

We were just riding along.

Seriously, we were.

Mark was introducing me to a terrific MTB trail network — Millcreek Canyon — and we were really, honestly, and truly just riding along.

And then the god of mountain bikes looked down on Mark and — for whatever reason — was not pleased. So Betty (the god of mountain bikes is a woman named Betty, and I understand she’s super hot) smote Mark. Just knocked him clean off his bike. No warning or anything. Just tugged his front wheel out from under him and pushed him over.

Unfortunately — for both Mark and me — I was right on Mark’s tail. I no sooner saw the hand of Betty show him who’s boss (hint: it’s Betty) than I crashed into the wreckage formerly known as Mark and his bike.

So startled was I by this chain of events that my mouth hung slack. This worked out badly for Mark, because my open mouth was bound to collide with something. In this case, my front teeth would collide with his knee, drawing blood.

For those who are curious about my first impressions of this unintentional foray into cannibalism: tastes like chicken. Disappointing, really.

Oh, and speaking of knees — because, two paragraphs up, I really was briefly speaking of knees — my knee was what took first impact on the hard-surfaced, gravelly trail.

Ooh, looky here. I have a photo:


For those wondering, the green socks are my wool Ibis socks. I’m a fan.

Oh, and in case you thought I was kidding about me being a kneebiter, behold Mark’s knee:


I really hope that leaves a scar.

And, just to round things off, gross most of the rest of you out, and make maybe a few of you uncomfortable with the fact that you’re suddenly very interested in Mark, here’s him cheerfully showing off his post-crash hip:


“Here,” Mark seems to be saying in this photo. “I’d really really like to show you my wound, and perhaps a wee bit more.”

But you know what’s really weird? The fact that I’m this far into today’s post and haven’t even broached today’s topic. Specifically, after all the fun and games are over, someone’s going to have to clean up this mess.

The Shower of Pain

A good hard bike wreck — road or mountain — hurts really bad twice. The first time is when you incur the injury. And the second is, of course, is when you wash it.

Because the washing is so much more than soap-lather-rinse. In fact, it’s even more than soap-lather-rinse-repeat.

It’s a ritual of pain. An assertion that you are willing to suffer for your art, such as it is. And above all, it’s an absolute lock of a way to ruin a white washcloth.


I expect there are some people who, when they’ve got a bike injury to clean up, step into the shower — tub, whatever — and get straight to it.

I am not one of those people.

Instead, I wash everything else first, slowly and carefully. I wash my face extra-well, because — who knows? — perhaps I’ll otherwise break out with my first acne in twenty years. I wash between my toes. I wash my back, without the aid of a back scrubber. Takes more time that way, especially if you’re being thorough.

I wash my hands, which I generally otherwise don’t do in the shower, figuring they see plenty of soap and scrubbing action without having to be specifically attended to. Which is unfair, when you think about it.

Perhaps I might even put shampoo on my head, which is a cruel mockery of both my head and the shampoo upon it.

Then maybe I’ll squeegee the glass and clean the shower’s grout. And then cast about, desperate for something — anything — else to clean besides the wound.

At some point, though, the wound must be cleaned.

This May Hurt a Little…But It’s More Likely Going to Make You Wish You Had Opted for the General Anesthetic

When it’s time to start the process of cleaning the wound up, I tell myself that my wound is just a surface that needs to be cleaned. It is not part of me. Any pain I experience has nothing to do with the actions I am taking, and so I will not stop just because I am in pain.

This doesn’t help at all, by the way. I have no idea why I say it to myself.

I then take the two very simple tools I use for cleanup — Dial soap and a dark-colored washcloth — and begin to lightly daub at the wound, hoping that perhaps all the blood and dirt and scabs will just fall off, due to the overwhelmingly strong combined forces of gravity and soap.

Then I begin the scrubbing ramp-up. Each stroke just a little bit more forceful than the last, until the wound has been successfully opened up again and is bleeding freely again and oh no I think I perhaps need a transfusion because I suddenly am having a difficult time standing and the room is spinning around.

Oh, and also I should mention that I usually make pitiful mewling noises while I do that part.

With all the general stuff washed off, the easy part — and by “easy” I mean “bearably painful” — is over.

Now it’s time to get to the stubborn stuff.

The stubborn stuff tends to take the form of very small rocks, or stubborn dirt. Or a riding buddy’s front tooth, I suppose. And it’s usually hidden beneath a flap of skin that didn’t get torn all the way off, so now it’s acting as a tupperwarish lid, keeping the dirt and grime safely sealed away inside you.

That flap of skin is going to have to go. I realize that. And yet, whenever I go to pull one of those flaps off, a very shrill and insistent voice in my head says things like, “YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO TEAR YOUR SKIN OFF, STUPID. BECAUSE WHEN YOU TEAR OFF YOUR SKIN IT CAN NO LONGER PROTECT THE JUICY STUFF UNDERNEATH.”

Yep, that voice really says everything in all-caps like that. And don’t think I haven’t told it how annoying that can be.

So I do my best to ignore the voice and remove the skin that isn’t doing me any good anymore, so I can get to the dirt and rocks and dog hair and pieces of asphalt that are trying — and making a pretty good show of it — to bond with me.

Eventually, the wound is clean. And then comes the rinsing. Which, magically, seems to hurt just as bad as everything else that has come before. Or maybe worse. By then my gauge of pain is a little bit fouled up.


Once cleaned, I apply an entire tube of Neosporin, because I work under the theory that Neosporin’s main job is to prevent any air molecules from getting near my blood. My science may be shaky here.

And then, once the ointment (really, is there an uglier word in the English language?) is applied, I like to discover that the only kind of bandages I have left in the house are the tiny little ones that don’t quite make it all the way around your pinky finger.

Good thing each box of bandaids comes with around 80 or 90 of this size. With patience, I can make a sort of quilt from these tiny bandaids and apply them to my wound.

This will, naturally, not adhere to any place on my skin where there’s any Neosporin at all.

Though it will adhere very well to my open wound, and will in fact bond chemically with it in seconds.

I swear, sometimes all this post-crash cleanup takes so much time and effort I wonder why I bother injuring myself at all.

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