Road Rash is Like Diaper Rash, but Not as Cute

Carlos brought to my attention his recent exploration of road rash. Oh, Carlos, where can I learn more? Personal experience is often a better teacher than anything else.

Today I took my first big spill on my bicycle. I was very close to work, as it often happens, so I finished up the ride with blood running down my leg. When I got to work and hit the shower, I learned the extent of the damage. In describing this for my right leg, it’s probably easier to talk about the parts that remained undamaged. They’re without noticeable tan, hairy, but otherwise beautiful. Maybe a few lumps and scars from previous accidents. Oh, and rare hamburger meat comes to mind when looking elsewhere.

It’s entirely my fault. I was shooting across a green light with traffic to avoid stopping and losing my pace. The roads are wet from all the rain, so when traffic stopped just after the light, I was unable to follow suit. I touched the front brake to slow me down, but the front tire instantly locked up. Too much pressure, apparently. With that, it was a matter of 1 second before all hope of regaining composure was lost. I flattened out on the road with my bike and slid for an eternity before finally stopping myself with my face…on the curb. The curb is okay and only suffered minor indignities. I actually had time to think about how bad the road rash was going to be while I slid. I was toying with the idea that it may not be so bad because of the wet roads – a true fact, actually. Funny thing about these things is that you don’t really feel the pain until after you stop. I felt heat on my leg from the friction, but that was it. And like a 10-year-old, I jumped up out of the street and yanked my bike up onto the sidewalk as if to pretend nothing happened. I was asked if I was okay and needed a ride, but the adrenaline and shock had me thinking I’d be fine, if only a little scuffed up. I am okay, truly. The rash on my leg hurts pretty bad, but it’s tolerable.

I was able to get it cleaned up pretty well in the shower at work, though I will need to do some scouring at home. The worst part at the moment is that I’m wearing jeans that are slowly getting damp with, presumably, lymph fluid. My buddy, Brandon, is picking up the medical supplies to keep me from sticking to the jeans. I have some additional precautions to take while riding in the rain, but I didn’t really learn how to avoid the lock-up problem. Brandon says disc brakes are better for “modulating” to avoid the lock-up. Calipers tend to give you all or nothing, which is certainly what it felt like today. On a positive note, I’ve now ridden nearly 350 miles commuting.


  1. Sorry to hear that bro, im glad youre ok, im still messed up, tore MCL / damaged meniscus and dislocated finger – and I was wearing FULL gear, minus the riding pants, i just had American eagle jeans on, without the gear i wouldn’t be here in one piece.

  2. Come on man! Get to the important issue: How is your bike?

    Last Friday as I was getting into the pool at the Hall County YMCA for my morning swim, my swimtrunks split from the inseam all the way to the waistband in the back. I too tried to pretend that nothing happened but it was difficult to act normal and walk backwards toward the men’s room at the same time.

    I didn’t try to sew them back up because times are tight and I probably can’t afford that much thread.

    You may have road rash but you have the more macho story.

  3. (wail) My baby! What happened to your face? It and the curb stopped your slide, but you never mentioned it. I am left wondering if it is too awful to mention. I remember my bout with road rash. painful, ugly, leaves some scars–oozes for a very long time. My recommendation is to treat it like a bad burn: nonstick telfa pads and lidocaine gel with antibiotic ointment. Aloe Vera leaves help too.

  4. It has been a week now and things are looking better in many places. I still have some bad spots that are painful and oozing. I started using the long-term “second-skin” type bandages a couple of days ago since the oozing is down a lot. I took off one on my knee because it isn’t sticking too well on account of the fluid. It also is starting to smell bad, so I think that means I’m going to lose the leg. At any rate, I decided to give those wounds another antibacterial scrubbing and let them start drying out. I can already tell dry road rash sucks worse than the wet stuff. It cracks and stretches with every movement. I’ll decide tomorrow whether or not to reapply a petroleum patch to keep it stretchy through my day. Oh, and you all should also know that non-stick gauze pads tend to stick anyway. If you’re draining particularly well, you should go ahead and change the pads more often to prevent the sticking.

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