Injured Steamboat cyclist broke neck but expected to be OK
July 7, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Simon Demby-Myers said he's doing pretty well, all things considered.
That's an important caveat, considering he broke his neck in a crash during Wednesday's Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series event on Mount Werner.
Demby-Myers had to be evacuated by emergency personnel after he and another biker collided on the Zig Zag trail at Steamboat Ski Area. Demby-Myers suffered a break in the first cervical vertebrae, or C1, in his neck. Despite a lot of pain, he can move all his extremities and is predicted to make a full recovery.
"I was very lucky," he said Thursday from his room at Yampa Valley Medical Center. "The fracture was a good ways away from the nerves and everything, so I don't think there will be any nervous damage. I've been sitting up on my own and moving around, taking a couple steps here and there. I'm in great shape, considering."
Wednesday's race sent riders up from the base of the ski area to the top of the gondola and back down along the Zig Zag trail. It was on the fast, sharp descent that Demby-Myers tried to pass a rider.
"He was in front of me, and I had been letting him lead me through a technical section. I felt like I could get around him safely because it got wider," he said. "I told him, 'right' and he came right, so I hollered twice more, 'right,' and he started going left but washed back into right as we were coming into a roller. I got pushed off the road and tangled up with him. We both went down."
Demby-Myers said it happened so fast that he didn't have time to take any evasive maneuvers or even let go of his handlebars.
"I kind of planted my front wheel in what had been another roller, but it wasn't so much a roller as a step-up," he said. "I couldn't even let go before I was upside down on top of my head."
He still has no idea how far he flew. It's only by examining a shattered helmet that Demby-Myers can say he landed on a rock.
"He told me we were going about 30 miles an hour when we got tangled up," Demby-Myers said. "We were definitely duking it out a little bit. Maybe it was a little bit of the heat of the moment that allowed us to have a little bad judgment, but ya know, I don't think either of us really did anything that was severely wrong. It's just a situation that stinks."
It doesn't stink as bad as it could, however. Other cyclists — including Mel Stewart, emergency medical service battalion chief at the Steamboat Springs Mountain Fire Station — were on the scene almost immediately and kept Demby-Myers from moving his head.
"I'm in a good bit of pain, a little banged up. I had a concussion and am having headaches, so I'm dealing with that," Demby-Myers said. "But the people on the scene were awesome."
Demby-Myers, who works for Moots Cycles, expects to be in a neck brace for six to eight weeks.