September 30 was like any other Saturday. I had plans to meet some friends for a 30-40 mile ride. I left my house at about 6:45am and headed to the high school where we were meeting. My husband, who would normally ride with us, was not feeling well and thankfully decided to stay home. I rolled up to the school a few minutes before seven and chatted with the other riders as we waited for everyone to get ready. Everyone was happy and looking forward to a fun ride.
The route was going to be a simple out and back along quiet country roads. We started the ride in two groups. I was in the first group with my two friends and took the lead position. We rode along single file enjoying the brisk fall air. Conversation was minimal, it was just one of those peaceful mornings doing something you love where you just sort of silently enjoyed it. In a second, everything changed.
HIT AND RUN
The last thing I remember, before being hit, was the sound of tires in gravel and loud cracking. Crack! Crack! Crack! My Garmin shows me accelerating from 17 mph to nearly 21 mph in a matter of seconds. Less than seven seconds later, I am no longer moving. My Garmin doesn’t detect movement again for almost two minutes.
The next thing I know is that I am standing on the side of the road looking around, trying to figure out what happened. It was like I was dropped in the middle of a horror movie. There were bikes and bodies and gear all around me. Blood ran down my face, but I could move. One member of our trio lay on his back with at least half of his body still in the road. He was moaning and seemed to be in a great deal of pain. I turned and saw my other friend on the ground. She was off of the road but she was also moaning and in pain. The vehicle that hit us was long gone. I grabbed my phone and dialed 9-1-1.
The three of us were transferred to the county hospital trauma center. I was the last to arrive. I remember being wheeled in and seeing my two friends being attended to by doctors and nurses. Time seemed to stand still. I remember getting a CT scan and eventually being stitched up. My husband was finally allowed in to see me and I cried. I cried a lot. I was in pain, I was scared, and I was incredibly angry that we had been hit.
My injuries included cuts, scrapes, huge bruises, and a lot of road rash. I also suffered a torn artery in my left buttock that left me with a football-sized hematoma. I was released from the hospital on the third day, once the doctors were certain that the artery had sealed itself off and did not require surgery. My girlfriend was released a day later. She had many of the same superficial injuries that I did, but she also suffered a broken wrist and pelvis. The third member of our group had very severe, life-threatening injuries and remained in ICU.
Right now, it’s hard to imagine getting back on the open road again and that makes me incredibly sad. I loved road cycling, I loved long rides with friends, and I loved my bikes (see my post: My Two Wheel Addiction). I find myself getting jealous when I see Facebook and Instagram posts of friends out on rides. I remind myself that it’s only been a few weeks since the incident and that I need to give it time.
“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell
Last weekend I headed out to a local cyclocross race to check out a new cycling option. A couple of friends from high school were racing as well as a co-worker and a cycling friend. My hubby and I walked the course and chatted with a few riders. I sort of chuckled to myself as I was introduced to people as “one of the three riders in the hit and run.” Everyone seemed to know about the incident and expressed how good it was to see me up and about.
My initial take on cyclocross is that it looks incredibly fun. The atmosphere was laid back, everyone was out there just to race and have a good time. This particular course was at a winery. There were hills and obstacles and mud and sand and best of all…no cars! Sounds perfect! I immediately went home and started looking for a cyclocross bike and checking out the PEARL iZUMi store for new gear.
Until I get my hands on a CX bike, I still have my mountain bike and lots of trails to explore. There are also plenty of opportunities to race in the spring and summer. Once I get the OK from my doctors to move from a stationary bike to a “real” bike, I plan on working on my MTB skills. I am timid at best when I am on a single track trail, especially if there are hills involved. I am looking forward to the challenge of mastering new skills and putting myself to the test.
Just because I’m wary of riding on the road does not mean I plan on abandoning triathlons. Triathlons are still in my future, I’m just going to be a bit more particular about which courses I race. Instead of picking races with bike courses along narrow and/or busy roads, I am going to focus on triathlons that have closed bike courses. Maybe I’ll even try an XTERRA race.
For the time being, my triathlon bike sits silently in the den attached to my Wahoo KICKR Snap. It’s ready for me to hop on and spin. Thankfully, I do not mind riding on the trainer and find the Zwift app quite engaging. Now that winter is approaching, I know that I will have plenty of time to pedal around the safe roads of Watopia. My plan is to get myself back in shape and ready for next year and all the new and exciting cycling challenges for me to #endureandenjoy.