Gnar Face: Face, Meet Pavement

In this edition of Gnar Face, we hear a truly gnarly story about a pavement header and just how much a face can swell.
Hailey Oppelt Hailey Oppelt
Communications Associate
July 21, 2019
Gnar Face: Face, Meet Pavement

Our blog series Gnar Face documents the funny, painful, and unfortunate things we’ve done to ourselves in the outdoors. In this edition, we hear from Membership and Communications Director Kristina Ciari Tursi about an ill-fated bike ride. Take a look at the last edition of Gnar Face for more tails of woe and misery.

I have a running joke among my friends that I am better at hurting myself than anyone else. There was the electrocution incident in Greece, the near toe-decapitation in Spain, and of course my climbing/skiing/cycling accidents. Well, one accident puts all of those to shame.

I set out on a bike ride over to Alki with a friend and fellow bike enthusiast. The day was excellent: cold, crisp, and sunny. Perfect for a blue-bird ski day or a lovely bike ride through fall foliage.

On the way back home as we were rounding the bend at the West Seattle Bridge, DISASTER STRUCK. From what I recall, I was riding quickly (about 16-20mph according to the bike computer) and approaching a large muddy patch on the right side of the path. There was also an oncoming cyclist, so I couldn’t just swerve around the muddy spot. I hit the brakes, and apparently I hit them a little too hard.  My front tire locked up and I was thrown forward and did a total header into the pavement.

Yes, that really does mean I landed on my face. Luckily I was wearing a helmet (of course!), and sunglasses (which are toast now).

After smacking my face, I flipped over and eventually came to rest on my back. I have some abrasions on my left shoulder and right shin, but luckily my clips released and the bike didn’t land under and/or on me. I’m also really glad my partner, who was behind, didn’t run over me!

Another cyclist saw the accident and nicely stopped to help. She called her husband, who lived close by, and he gave us a ride to my house. There, I cleaned up a bit, then we headed to the hospital. It was pretty apparent I would need stitches.

Stare Face.JPGPost at-home clean up
Courtesy of Kristina Ciari Tursi

They took X-rays of my shoulder, a CAT Scan of my FACE, and gave me a tetanus shot for good measure. Everything came back clean, nothing broken (thank goodness). My eyebrow cut had to be glued shut, they put 4 stitches in my lip, and my face was pretty ridiculously swollen for over a week.

If this is the universe’s way of telling me to slow down, I got the memo.

How A Face Heals 

The body is an incredible thing. Only those comfortable with the truly gnarly are encouraged to view the photos below:


Side view.png


Have your own Gnar Face story? 

Submit your misadventures via email and have the chance to see your story on our blog! 

Submit Now


Add a comment

Log in to add comments.
Mike Braun
Mike Braun says:
Jul 21, 2019 11:09 AM

Interesting and scary. I had a similar incident during an organized ride 45 years ago, a time when no one wore helmets. I remembered being airborne and my head hitting the pavement. I received 3 stitches over one eyebrow, no bruising, and maybe some scratches or torn clothing. Your outcome probably is more typical.

Anita Elder
Anita Elder says:
Jul 21, 2019 01:56 PM

Wow! When did this happen? I'm assuming it wasn't recent (too bad...I wanted to see how gnarly it was real time). Oh, and has your husband taken out extra life insurance on you, dear? He should! LOL

Louise Kornreich
Louise Kornreich says:
Jul 22, 2019 05:06 PM

Brave of you to allow people to see your healing process. I'm happy to see you made a full recovery.