Sunday, April 22, 2007

What is it about the third Sunday in April?

Last year, I did the Wente Road Race on the third Saturday in April. The next day, we did the Primavera metric century as a challenge after the race. Toward the end of the ride, we were in Palomares Canyon, when we came over the crest and upon a bad cyclist accident scene. An older cyclist named Richard had crashed for no apparent reason just before we got there. Several other cyclists and motorists had already gathered, including a couple of his friends. He was breathing, so we covered him with a blanket and waited for medics, wary of moving him. While we were waiting, he stopped breathing. The group started rescue breathing. He started breathing again. After a few minutes he stopped breathing again and his pulse grew weaker. The group started CPR. The medics finally arrived, and were able to get a pulse before leaving. We were hopeful, but emotionally depleated after the ride. I cried much of the time we were at the scene. The next day we learned he had not made it. The reason he'd crashed was that he'd had a heart attack. That is what killed him - not the crash.

Today, cyclistrick and I were out for a 4 hour tempo ride. I'd done a race-pace group ride for two hours yesterday, so I knew it was going to be a hard ride. I had lots of food stuffs with me and was testing a gel/water bottle from Gu20 for next week's stage race. About 2 hours into the ride, we made a water stop in Woodside. cyclistrick realized he didn't have his helmet. I don't know how I didn't realize it, other than he typically rides in back of me, and he was wearing a cycling cap, which my brain may have assigned to the helmet category. This realization took the wind out of my sails a little, but we pushed on, since there was really no fast way home from there. We'd done one climb already (Jefferson), and were headed to do two more climbing segments - lower Page Mill and Magdalena in Los Altos Hills. Shortly before Page Mill, I started to feel hungry, despite getting a solid 200 kcal per hour. We were about 2:30 into the ride at this point. Things were not going well. We started up Page Mill. About 5 minutes into the climb, we came upon a line of traffic stopped, which appeared to be a minor auto accident.

As we weaved up the hill around the cars, we came upon a bad cyclist accident scene. A youngish guy was laying unconscious on the side of the road. His whole head was bloodied. He had two cyclists and several motorists attending to him already, so we pushed on up to our turn. Seeing the scene took me back in my mind to last year on this day and Richard laying in the road. I could hardly turn the pedals over as I was so concerned for his welfare. As soon as we turned off on Altamont, I pulled over and had to cry for a few minutes. It was too much.

At that point, I had lost my will to push tempo and just wanted to go home. We descended and skipped our last climbing loop. We ended about 1/2 hour short of our goal for the day. But, there is no joy in a ride after you have seen something like that.

I'm sending out prayers for that young guy on Page Mill. If any of you hear the outcome, I'd love to hear he is OK.

One bright spot in the day was that we saw Mary Ann Levenson out riding this morning. She is a Metromint Cat 2 racer that was hit and almost killed by a car around Christmas. She looked fantastic and strong.


Chris said...

Thankfully, I have never seen or come upon a severe cycling accident. I have come across other kinds of accidents where dead people were covered up, etc. It really does mess with your head.

Imagine, you wake up one morning not knowing that that will be the last morning you ever get to see. It seems so unfair, but I guess it is just how it has to be.

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

How horrible -- I hope he's okay. Another teammate of mine (not MA) crashed & broke her collarbone in half this weekend last year, and crashed again in the crit yesterday (luckily, as she puts it, "titanium is stronger than bone" & she didn't re-break). There really must be some bad juju surrounding this weekend.

chatterbox said...

panda - glad to hear your team mate is OK. We had a crasher, too, in the W4 on Saturday. She is OK. I read on Alicat's blog that she and Anny Henry both went down in the Cat 3 race on Saturday. Too much crashing! Perhaps I should take up knitting in April.

chris - yeah. It does seem unfair. I guess the only thing to do is live each day as if it's the last....

Jackie said...

Thanks for writing about it and reminding us how fragile every minute is and how we have to treasure each other. Thanks.

Jackie said...

Thanks for writing about it and reminding us how fragile every minute is and how we have to treasure each other. Thanks.