It Could Have Been Worse..

But it was still pretty traumatic. Last Sunday’s club ride had a kind of mellow feel to it, since most of us had ridden pretty hard the day before. A flat and easy paced ride was a great way to spend what was shaping up to be a hot morning.

Our group of 9 left Linden at 8 am, headed either for Farmington (30 miles total) or Escalon (45 miles total). As I said most of us were riding calmly and 7 of us were within 50 yards of each other when there was a loud BANG! somewhere behind me. And I do mean loud. It sounded like a gunshot or explosion.

When Margaret and I stopped and looked back, we saw Bill (Margaret’s husband) and Paul G (aka G Man) lying on the pavement about 100 yards back. Although we were on a very quiet Hewitt Road, we also saw a car coming toward us. I waved and got the approaching vehicle to slow and pass carefully around the riders and bikes strewn on the tarmac. A couple of riders who had been in front came back and we all started to assess the situation.

Bill’s tubeless tire had blown off of the rim, and he lost control and hit the ground. G Man was riding behind him and could do nothing but go down and wound up on top of Bill. By the time I got back G Man was on his feet but Bill was still on the ground holding his elbow to immobilize his (almost certainly) broken collarbone.

G Man’s face was a bloody mess, and he had a deep gash in his lip, but he seemed lucid and nothing was broken. I spoke to him a bit and told him he needed to go to the ER or urgent care to get that lip stitched. His helmet was pristine and it did not appear that he hit his head at all. Appearances can be deceiving.

A minute later G Man had a confused look on his face, and he said to me “Did I hit the ground?” Now we have trouble. He doesn’t remember. He has a concussion and/or head trauma despite the helmet looking brand new. Dr. Paul R had him sit in the shade and monitored him. Paul B called for help, and the Farmington Fire Department arrived really quickly, followed by an ambulance, which G Man needed for certain.

Three Bikes Waiting for the Shuttle After the Evacuations

The crash occurred right next to a dairy, and one of the workers came over to see if he could help. Margaret asked him if he would drive Bill and her to Linden to their car. Bill didn’t think he needed an ambulance and they wanted to go to Kaiser. I learned from Margaret that the dairyman was really nice and would not take money offered. So they brought him a Fruit Bowl pie later to thank him.

G Man appeared conscious the whole time, but he was confused and the ambulance took him to the county hospital to evaluate his head injury. Once our riders were taken car of, the rest of us took care of the logistics.

Russ rode back to Linden to get his truck. He then drove the 9 miles to the crash site to pick up the 3 bikes, and took them to my house for temporary storage. I rode home, and the rest of the group returned to Linden. Paul B and Dr. Paul R (3 Pauls’ on this ride!) live in Linden, and Paul B had the foresight to retrieve G Man’s car keys before he was loaded into the ambulance. He moved the car to his driveway.

Paul B and I got cleaned up, had a bite to eat and headed down to the county hospital about 1 pm. We left G Man’s car at my house. We had learned from G Man that the brain scan showed no damage. Whether it characterized his brain as ‘normal’ is unclear.

We only had to wait about 90 minutes at the ER. G Man came out of the trauma center moving slowly and talking rapidly. “I don’t remember anything. I don’t remember the crash, I don’t remember talking to anybody, I don’t remember being loaded into the ambulance”. We drove back to my house and put G Man’s bike in his car. There was no chance we were going to let him drive to Galt, so Paul B drove G Man’s car and I drove mine and we took him home. G Man did not argue; he thought the shuttle service was a good idea given his current state.

G Man was really sore the next day, but he is healing quickly and will be back on his bike soon. Bill won’t. His broken collarbone will not require surgery, but he has been told to immobilize it for at least a month and stay off the bike for 6 to 8 weeks.

Every time there is crash with injuries involving people I know, I ask myself if riding a bike is worth the risks. I could just do indoor cycling with fancy electronic displays and data monitors and achieve all the cardio fitness I need in complete safety. But I always get back on the road.

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