You might have seen me, cycling briskly westward along Karl-Marx Allee yesterday morning, enjoying the sunny winter weather and the quiet cycle path as I slipped on some black ice crossing Strausberger Platz, unceremoniously interfacing my jaw with the tarmac as my full weight came crashing down on it. I hope you didn’t, because I probably looked quite stupid.
Here’s a rundown of the following series of events. As I got to my feet, I thought, great, I can still walk, I’m ok. The bike also looked in pretty good shape. This was quickly followed by: shit, there’s an awful lot of blood dripping from my head and my teeth feel weird. Uh oh.
I went to the side of the road and asked a cyclist for a tissue. The white paper he gave me very quickly turned completely red. Not good. I asked him: do you think I need an ambulance, or am I ok? I really think you need an ambulance, he said. I called an ambulance and 10 minutes later I was sitting in the back of it, spitting out a little bits of white enamel.
The ambulance took me and my bike to the Unfallkrankenhaus in Marzahn-Hellersdorf. Getting to the hospital, the first dilemma was where to put my bike without a lock. That sorted, I was put in a neck brace, x-rayed in a variety of positions and had my jaw stitched up, learning a new repertoire of German medical vocabulary from each new doctor I had to explain my situation to. I finally got home, but not before pulling yet another bit of enamel off of my upper pre-molar.
The next day I went to a swanky dental practice on Ku’damm that could pass for a Beverly Hills nip and tuck surgery, and spent two hours having my teeth rebuilt. At least they don’t need replacing, I thought; that would take an even bigger chunk out of my new-bike-fund.
Does this story have a moral, I wonder, as I acquaint my tongue with my teeth’s new topography? I’m not really sure.
Ironically, for everything I’ve said about safe winter cycling and for the precautions I take, it seemed yesterday mother nature simply had the upper hand. It could’ve been worse; at least the bike wasn’t hurt, as bloody as it might now be. Stay safe, kids!