Sooner or later, ride and racing bikes, you are going to crash. In fact, on the first day of the "Learn to Race" course run by the Midweek Cycling Club, it was one of the first things mention to all riders: You will crash. Get over it.
This past Saturday, I was session leader at the Forest City Velodrome's Recreational Ride. Running 8:30AM-Noon, riders from all over come to ride the track and to get experience on the track. For some reason, on this day, albeit sunny outside, there were a record 34 riders present riding the track. There were six cars in the driveway when I rolled up at 8:20AM. Last week there were none. At the rec ride, there was a good mix of experienced and new riders (you can see where this is going). While crashes happen far less frequently (almost never) on the track compared to on the road, they do occational happen. I was taken out by a new rider who, one his way down the track (the track is self-cleaning), slammed into my back wheel, ripping the tire off, and causing me to land on the concrete. While the bike took most of the damage (new tubular tire required), my bib shorts were tore slightly and I have a small patch of road rash on my hip. Nothing serious, but without some attention, this small gash can be a royal pain in my side (pun intended).
Some time ago, I learned that Johnson & Johnson Advanced Healing Hydrocolloid Adhesive Pads work wonders.
When road rash starts to heal over, the body puts a "scab" on the wound to protect it. However, this protection can cause a great deal of pain because any rubbing causes movement and over time the scab tends to shrink. Can you saw "Ouch"? When the scab comes off, it sometimes leaves a scar behind. Covering the wound with regular bandages doesn't really work well because it still allows the scab to form. The problem is worsen if the bandage happen to stick to the wound (ouch!). Nevermind, taking off a normal bandage causes a great amount of pain as it pulls at the wound and any hair you didn't actually shave off in advance of the crash (a good reason to shave those legs). The Hydrocolloid pads after effectly waterproof but breathable and keep the right amount of moisture under the dressing. The pad keeps the perfect environment under the pad for the body to health itself. Because it is a moist environment a scab never forms. It also means there is little if any pain as a result. One the pad is applied, most resultant pain disappears. The pad is thick enough that rubbing from pants/shirts or bedsheets (think sleeping) does not cause any irritation. Showering with the pad on is similarly pain free. The best thing about the pads is they speed healing. It typically takes 3-5 days for the average wound to heal over and once the pad is removed, there is no scaring. Also, because the pad keeps the wound moist, the pad does not stick to the skin in the area of the wound so it is mostly pain free to remove the pad.
The disadvance of the pad are most to do with availability rather than usuability. First, they are are expensive ($10 box of four) and can be hard to find. I typically buy as many boxes as I can find when I have to re-stock my first aid kit so I always have enough on hand. They are also small. The medium size is around 8cmx6cm and that is about the only size I can find. So, for larger wounds I layer the pads over the wound to completely cover it. I have used as many as six of the pads on a large wound when I've crashed in a road race. Also, be careful in buying the pads: there are some clones of the J&J ones, but there are not the same. They do not work. Shoppers Drug Mart is a good place to find them.
If you ride or race a bike, sooner or later you will end up on the ground. It will happen. Crashing is a fact of life for a cyclist. You ride on two wheels and sometimes the rubber doesn't always stay on the road. Make sure you have the Johnson and Johnson Hydrocolliod Adhesive Pads on hand and in your first aid kit for any road race. You never know when you will need them.