Amgen Tour of California Stage 8: KOM Lake Wohlford Road

Recon of the second KOM of final stage of Amgen Tour of California. Done from dash of car to speed it up.

This is a narrow climb for locals (with the traffice), but will be no problem for the pro peloton. Not a hill that will determine the stage outcome, maybe just KOM points.  

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Too close to home…

Less than 2 miles from the house, a cyclist died Tuesday in an accident. When I heard the news from a colleague, I prayed that Carl didn’t suffer, and that his family can someday find peace.

Same for the motorist. A tragedy of the unspeakable.

Please be careful when you drive. A 16-pound bicycle is no match for any car. Ever.

And nothing can be important than a human life. Nothing.

Cherish every breath…

I read this article in the Contra Costa Times with sadness. It reminded me how lucky I was in late March

I started increasing mileage in late spring and noticed many more bicycles on San Diego roads as professionals commuted on two wheels when gasoline spiked over $4.

Now not so many. Yes, it’s a bit colder. But this is Southern California, not Chicago.

I hope we don’t forget bicycles as a viable and healthy mode of transportation. The more bicycles on the road, the better the odds of cyclists being seen by motorists and respected.

Surviving an encounter with a motor vehicle is a blessing compared to involuntarily giving your family and friends a reason to install a roadside Ghost Bike memorial. My heart aches for anyone who has had to grieve over a loss this way.

A few hundred micro stitches and five shiny new fake teeth later, I’ve put my one and only crash behind me. I trust it’s the last. Be safe out there, and ride with a buddy when possible.

Progress…

No trainer tonight. I’m satisfied with heavy duty facial cleanup up after shedding 90% of the stitches. Dental surgeon also positive after checking implant work this afternoon. Tomorrow morning, I’m on the trainer. My bibs, cleats and jerseys look lonely in the closet. My legs are beyond antsy. My brain wonders when it once again gets to take in the beauty of the road.

Soon.

Stitches out, road to recovery…

A week after almost losing my right ear, I’ve been given medical approval to resume light stationary training. I’ve posted fliers in Ramona asking for witness information on what anyone may have seen. A local business told me it received a call from a woman asking about how to reach authorities. She reported having possible information about a Ford Excursion where I hit the pavement. I hope she has formally contacted the California Highway Patrol. They have little to go on. I was interviewed by the local ABC affiliate last night.  

The CHP says there is no physical or eye-witness evidence to suggest I had “contact” with a vehicle. I am thankful for the work, but still feel that someone was there before any law enforcement responders arrived — and knows something. I hope their conscience helps them come forward, so I can fully understand how I came to be lying on my back. Falling to the ground on a moderate training ride where the pavement is smooth and I’ve ridden more than 100 times doesn’t compute in my brain. I had sufficient rear and front lighting. I have zero road rash to my hands, arms or back, which, I believe, points out no time to react before making contact with the ground. I have no memory.

I’ve had fuzzy recollections of floating, looking down and thinking “this won’t be good.” None of them make sense. I’m well aware of what my body can and can’t do. I know what a physical bonk is (four marathons, two Climb to Kaisers, cycling centuries galore both at altitude and along the coast). 

Here’s a photo of my helmet. If you ride, please wear one. I don’t want to sound preachy. It’s no guarantee you won’t get hurt. But it saved me untold injuries. If you don’t have a professional team car to manage vehicles behind your group or individual ride, you are at the mercy of motorists, simple as that. I still trust people. I have ridden too many miles in San Diego to believe otherwise.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me this past week — CHP, Ramona Fire, LifeFlight, Palomar Medical Center’s Trauma Unit, the nurses on the 7th floor, Brian Casciari DDS, Bruce Johnson DDS, and Jonathon Wilensky, MD, who sewed my ear and parts of my face back together.

The wounds continue to heal. Forward I go with no regrets.

helmet-damage_bean.jpg

click to enlarge Giro helmet and cycling cap

  

Crashing and continuing…

Had a serious crash Thursday night. First one in 25 years. Lights on at dusk, riding solo and feeling stronger than ever, I awoke clammy, shaking and confused. Paramedics told me to be still. They pulled Duct tape over my temple and legs to better hold me on a body board. They cut away my red, white and blue Brooklyn chewing gum jersey, my bibs and arm warmers. They inserted IVs and took vital signs. I didn’t move my head or open an eye. I was in shock. 

I’ve yet to see the full police report (set for Tuesday) or speak to anyone who dialed 911. I will be thanking them soon.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Jonathon Wilensky, a plastic surgeon who was on call for another trauma case when I was airlifted to Palomar Medical Center. Dr. Wilensky spent about 4 hours (12 a.m. to 4 a.m.) stitching my right ear back together, as well as my mouth and cheek. I can’t address dental issues until next week.

Giro, the helmet maker, deserves a huge thanks as well. Without the Giro Atmos helmet, I would not be posting this blog. 

I start riding the trainer as early as Friday (with medical clearance). I’ve logged more than 35,000 miles (many of them solo efforts through mountain passes) the last 4+ years. This first serious cycling accident doesn’t change how I feel about the sport. We have to be as safe as we can — and trust that others will do the same.