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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

May 14, 2010 at 8:25 PM

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Back to biking after a traumatic crash

Posted by Gabriel Campanario

sketcher15m.jpg

May 13, 9:56 a.m. [Click on sketch to view larger]

Shelly Rae Clift had a really bad bike crash last July. She doesn't even remember how it happened, only that she was riding to work on the Burke-Gilman Trail in Fremont. She was told later that she hit one of the metal posts that keeps cars from entering the trail.

"I broke my neck in three places," she told me on a stop during her commute at Green Lake Thursday morning. "I had a brain hemorrhage and swelling."

Clift, 47, also tore the arteries in her neck and knocked out her front teeth. "I still don't have any feeling around my mouth," she said pointing to a scar on her cheek. "The helmet saved my life."

Despite the traumatic experience, Clift has been anxious to ride again. After months of recovery when she's had seizures due to the brain injury, she got permission from her doctor to ride again three weeks ago.

And she couldn't look any happier as it was time for her to keep riding to work, first to downtown, then to Issaquah by bus.

"The pleasure of riding outweighs any risks," she said. "I've been riding my bicycle for 40 years and I have had one crash. I've been driving for 30 years and I've been rear-ended and crashed into about five times," she said. "Stuff happens."


  • Read Clift's own account about her bike crash on her blog, here and here.

  • Next week I'll share a sketch of another bike commuter, Glenn Hinrichsen, who commutes 32 miles three days a week. Hinrichsen had a stent put in his heart seven years ago.

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