Krys Blakemore is a cyclist, bike mechanic, and badass I have had a huge girlcrush on forever. She’s one of the girls, fixing bikes in Dickies work dresses, working chaingrease into the crevices of elaborately painted nails, and getting rad tattoos on across her arms and thighs. She’s one of the boys, drinking hard in dive bars and riding bikes until the frame crumbles to dust between her legs.
“I hope that I can some way inspire other people that find themselves in similar predicaments to be thankful to just be alive and that things can always be worse.”
Krys was hit by a car –severely– 2 months shy of a year ago. Every cyclist’s worst fear that doesn’t involve dying happened to her. She’s endured two major, major reconstructive surgeries, and unfortunately there may be more on the horizon.
“Lutheran Hospital Trauma Center sent me home with a severely broken leg. They didn’t know how bad it was really broken. Neither did I. They even tried to get me to move it not knowing my ligaments were torn. I decided to go to a new hospital in Manhattan. I went to surgery alone. The first surgery, they put in 10cm of cadaver fibula, 10 screws, 2 pins and a 6in plate in my right shin.”
With scrappy Positive Mental Attitude, badass resolute determination, creativity, strength, and patience, she’s endured all this time off her bike with much more grace than I think I’d be able to handle.
“My friends have been such a huge support system for me. It’s kind of mind blowing sometimes just how much they’ve done for me so far. I probably wouldnt be as mentally okay as I am without them”.
Read on to find out the details of her completely fucked up accident. Check out her artwork. And please, please kick a few bones down on her fundraiser to help cover medical bills. If the situation was reversed, she’d do the same for you.
What’s it like riding for Eighth Inch? How did you come to be sponsored by them?
i’m one of the only people on their team that races (or was racing) alley cats with their bike and I’m the only girl which is kinda rad. they had emailed the owner of the shop i work at asking if he knew any strong riders and he mentioned me after that they contacted me and it took off from there. they’re rad dudes though for sure. we’re working on some art collabs too.
How did you learn to fix bikes? What shops have you worked at? How did you get those jobs?
i grew up in north carolina and hung around bike kids who are now like my family- some of them are mechanics. i was always curious and didnt like it when i went to shops for something and dudes would give me the whole “what do you know little girl” so i just wanted to know how to do it myself. after i moved to new york and got laid off of my other job i saw that a bike shop in brooklyn was hiring so i hit them up and got the job. it just kind of snowballed from there i guess. i met the owner of the shop i work at now from that job and he kind of scooped me up to help him open his shop 718 Cyclery, I also work at Bikesmith which is another shop in brooklyn that’s run by one of my friends but yeah since then i’ve made lots of friends in the bike shop world and cycling world in general and its awesome.
What’s the best thing about working in a bike shop? What’s the worst part?
working with your hands and getting dirty! there’s something uhh zen? about fixing something that someone else thought was completely broken. worst part.. when men come in and think i’m some kind of counter girl but i always enjoy the look on their faces when they ask to speak to a mechanic and i say ‘yeah im the mechanic’ haha
Can you tell us about the accident?
I was riding back from dropping off the timbuk2 bag i had painted for the red hook crit art auction in brooklyn when i was trying to turn left and got t-boned by a compact suv. i remember the initial impact and feeling my leg break, i didn’t yell or scream, all i said was “oh fuck” then felt a crunch. she was driving so fast that the impact sent me flying ironically headfirst into a parked ambulance. i don’t remember that part but i remember hitting the ground and mumbling ‘call 911’ i think i said it three times then everything went black.
i can’t really describe in words what was going on right before i came to, it was weird. i remember feeling like someone was poking me in the left shoulder and i saw myself laying there. most bizarre thing i ever experienced. i came to sometime later, not sure how much time passed, surrounded by police officers and surprisingly no paramedics. i was “DOA”. when i opened my eyes for the first time, i was laying on my back, my head turned to the right, i opened my eyes and saw a larger police officer crouched down taking a photo of me, my initial thought was “why is he taking my picture and can i get a copy?” i started to listen to the conversations going on around me. someone in the crowd said “well she wasn’t wearing a helmet”, one of the cops jokingly said “the car isn’t really damaged at all” i looked left and saw a bunch of blood and then a pedestrian ran over to me and told me that i was going to be okay and then asked my name and i asked where i was bleeding from and he responded ‘your head’ – of course i touched it. then i ran my tongue across my teeth to make sure they were all still there, they were then wiggled my toes to make sure i wasnt paralyzed and i wasnt. i saw a police officer pick up my bike about 15 feet away from where i was laying and my handlebars and quill stem weren’t attached. maybe half an hour later a new ambulance showed up – guess its no use to you if you hit your head on one – i was taken to lutheran hospital trauma center which was awful.
What happened at the hospital?
i got 13 stitches in my forehead right above my eyebrow – no concussion miraculously – and they sent me home 3 days later with a severely broken leg and they didn’t know how bad it was really broken, neither did i. in fact while i was in the hospital, they were so sporadic with my pain medications that at one point they gave me motrin, i didn’t have a headache! i got in contact with a lawyer and decided to go to a new hospital for surgery – new york presbyterian – and they told me that my tibial plateau was shattered, along with my cartilage and my mcl and lateral meniscus were torn too. so on march 27th 2012 i went to surgery alone like a weirdo but they put in 10cm of cadaver fibula, 10 screws, 2 pins and a 6in plate in my right shin.
i was there for 3 more days then they sent me home. i was doing physical therapy 3 days a week up until earlier in august when my surgeon told me that i need to have surgery again. WTF i just wanna ride my bike and im broke as shit and the insurance company has ‘exhausted their limits’ so theyre not paying for my second surgery or helping me with lost wages after august. the next surgery was october 17th – my mcl was still unstable and my bones were out of alignment aka there was a huge gap between my femur and my tibia. they put me under again.. woke up with 9 more screws, another plate, a bone graft, and a cadaver Achilles tendon in place of my MCL. They gave me what’s called a ‘distal femoral osteotomy with a iliac crest allograft along with MCL reconstruction. So they basically sawed my femur in half to correct the bone alignment, took at two inch square out of the top of my right hip (theres a weird divot there now) they put that in my femur then attached the cadaver ligament with 2 giant screws. gross right? i’m now a robot.
What has changed about your life since the accident? How have you been working on recovery?
a lot about my life has changed i mean there’s the obvious.. being bored as hell and wanting more than anything to ride my bike again with my friends and be self sufficient again. my overall outlook has become much more positive though, i think i’m in an ‘ok’ place mentally about this whole thing as ‘ok’ as i can be. being miserable and throwing yourself a pity party isnt going to make recovery go by any faster you know? it doesn’t quite feel like this happened almost 11 months ago but i will say it was damn near heartbreaking to hear that i had to have another 6 months to go when I thought i was so close to being done but worse things could have happened. at least now ill be 100% better and back at it with a vengeance so look out boys and girls.
What does a day look like for you now?
they sent me home with these funny machines, one of which i had after the first surgery. one is this funny looking electric contraption that i strap my leg into and it bends it for me, 2 hour sessions 3 times a day. the other is an ultrasonic bone stimulator, sounds cooler than it is. it’s just this little thing i wear on my leg for 20 minutes once a day that helps speed up the bone growth process. other than that i just work on artwork at home and im working on a graphic novel of sorts about this whole thing which is going to take years to finish but now ive got the time to really work on things. my friends have been such a huge support system for me its kind of mind blowing sometimes just how much theyve done for me so far. i probably wouldnt be as mentally okay as i am without them. im trying to be strong for me but for them too you know? and i hope that i can some way inspire other people that find themselves in similar predicaments to be thankful to just be alive and that things can always be worse.
What are you looking forward to in the future?
i was gonna say ‘riding my bike’ but i was riding between surgeries because i figured what was the worst that could happen? i break my leg? they were gonna break it anyway! but now i’m looking forward to being back on the bike full time again, i’ve tried riding twice now and it’s still a little painful and i can’t get my foot centered on my pedal just yet. most of all i look forward to racing with my new robo leg, maybe i have some kinda of olympic cadavers? that’d be rad huh?
That’s all we’ve got with the lovely Little Krys. Remember to check out her artwork.
If you enjoyed this article at all — even $1’s worth or $5’s worth– please consider kicking a dollar or so to Krys’ fundraiser to help cover her medical bills. What happened to her could happen to any of us, and it is important to support members of our community who need a hand.