Monday, August 19, 2013

Prime Time!

Today starts the US Pro Challenge (I still refer to it as the "Tour of Colorado"). HOORAY! More racing on prime-time, EVERY DAY! Woo-HOO! I knew I kept my NBC Sports satellite upgrade package alive for something! It should be a really great race...Tommy D is primed to kick some butt! And TJ is hopefully done licking his wounds from Le Tour and should really be motivated to put in a good ride for his team.

And MORE good cycling news: Jens has officially signed with Trek for another year! HOORAY again! Just LOVE that guy...can't think of anybody else in the peleton quite like him...he's a great personality, a wonderful role model, and he doesn't make excuses...he just rides! You have to respect a man that can do that for so many years and still maintain his love for riding.

On to some sad news...I had the entire weekend off (that's not the sad news)...can't remember when I last had both Saturday and Sunday off...maybe back in early July? Seems like forever ago. ANYWAY. I was able to make the Saturday morning club ride. I've been wanting to hear some more info on Shannon (the girl on our club who was hit by a car back on July 18th). Well...her good friend and co-worker Rick was at the ride (last time I saw him we were coming down a canyon descent and he crashed on a turn..slid out and went off into the grass. He appeared ok, and must have had a good adreneline rush, as he was on the front most of the way home after that...but it turned out he broke his collar-bone (again). So I haven't seen him in months. Well...last week he made the drive up to San Jose to visit with Shannon. He said he only intended to stay about an hour...but 7 hours later he had to beg forgiveness as he had a 3 hour drive back home. He said "what can you say...she's Shannon" (note: all the rides I've done with her, you can usually find her chatting it up nearly the entire ride with whoever is opposite her in our typical double-paceline....all while some of us off the back are gasping for air and having our legs ripped off).

So I asked Rick point blank "so what kind of recovery is she expected to make? When will she be back on the bike?" (all I knew thus far is what her husband Eric has been posting on her blog). Turns out I'm rather stunned, and also sad I asked, as it's rather devastating. She's a quadraplegic. Zero chance of the legs ever coming back, and not very good odds of any use of arms/hands again. He said if she's REALLY lucky, in a year or 2 she might have some limited use of her arms...but that's very iffy. I was not prepared for that...I've been assuming she would be making a full recovery.

Suddenly I wasn't very excited to be on my road bike...spent the entire ride looking in my mirror, trying to stay as far on the edge of the road/shoulder as I could...quite honestly, I didn't enjoy myself very much at all (and it was a rather nice day for a change). Then on Sunday I met up with the dirt-segment of the club for a nice MT bike ride...and big Tony was there as usual (he works at the bike shop...he's a GREAT mechanic, salesman, AWESOME rider both road and dirt, and super nice guy). I mentioned to him that I hadn't known the full extent of Shannon's injuries until I talked to Rick...and he said "I know...why do you think I haven't been to the Saturday morning rides lately? I just can't seem get back on my road bike...and that's bad, cuz I sell them". WOW. This is a guy who has raced both on and off road. He goes downhill on most any surface like nobody else I've ever ridden with...and climbs surprisingly strong for a big guy (he must weigh at least 210-220lbs). He said he's not sure when he'll get back on the road bike, if ever. I think he's really hurt by this, much more than he alludes to (heck, I'm hurt by this and I've only known her for 7 months or so)...I gather he's been riding with her for years. He also said that he knew 2 other people who have been hit and killed right here in the local area in the last 2 or 3 years (one of the guys was his friend older gentleman who founded the 'other' cycling club in town: the Cutters...he was hit last year just below Vandenberg grade...he was solo riding along the road headed for the grade when an old guy zooming along in his land-yacht had veered way onto the shoulder and struck him, killing him instantly. His little roadside memorial complete with a Cutters jersey is still standing on the side of the road where he died...I ride by it every time I go up the Grade on my after-work rides). The other death was a 19 yr old kid on a popular cycling route just outside of town...he was hit by a 19yr old girl (he graduated w/ her just a year earlier) who was texting as she drove her truck. Tony had sold him the bike.

I surely don't know what the answers are as to why so many cyclists are getting hit...wish I knew a solution but I don't. Just seems to be so many distracted drivers...or maybe it's that there's so many more cyclists that it's just the odds that more will be hit by having the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can say that I don't know of ANY road riders who don't have a scary story of a close call or an actual hit by a vehicle (Tony told me that Rick has been hit by a truck years back which did substantial damage...he is mostly recovered from that but apparently he's also just prone to crash...can't imagine why his wife hasn't buried his road bike somewhere never to be seen again).

Sorry to be ending this post on such a's just how I feel right now...can't get poor Shannon out of my head. How she and her husband/family are dealing with this is beyond me. I hope and pray I never have that kind of challenge in my life...bad things happen to people all the time and there's surely no rhyme or reason. It just is. Life can be beautiful, and it can be hard. I guess you just have to take it one day at a time and pray you're one of the lucky ones. Guess there's something to be said for being a couch-potato.

Be safe out there! 


  1. That is awful news, Matt. There is no upside to it that I can find. Last year a 21 yo touring cyclist from Oregon managed to ride all the way across the US (diagonally) only to be struck by an old guy in a big car who had a siezure or something. I never heard the rest of the story, just the news of the accident and that he was hospitalized. It happened right along one of my regular routes. As one who is trying to live the Way of the Bicycle, as you know, I ride all the time. And there have been many, many close calls. There are scenic routes that I now avoid because even though the traffic is slow, the drivers are looking at the scenery and not watching the road.

    Here where I am working in Boca Raton the bike lanes are plentiful, but I don't think the drivers understand the concept. They obviously do not seem to grasp that I am not in a car and that a collision would be, for me, more than a matter for the insurance companies to sort out. So I find myself seeking back ways to everywhere, using sidewalks when possible and being hyper alert and always expecting the worse.

    The upshot of all this is yeah, my roadie status is fading and I find my dream bike shifting into the realm of the twenty-niner, with big fat tires capable of hopping curbs and cutting across empty lots. I used to call this kind of riding urban bashing (before I found my Schwinn LeTour and discovered the joy of flight) and nowadays, well, sidewalk singletrack is my way of getting there.

    Vehicular riding in a city environment is questionable. It is my experience that most drivers have no idea what I am going to do and seem unable to grasp that I am going to follow the same rules they are following. They wave me ahead in an act of kindness, but behind the tinted windshields I can't tell if they are waving me on or giving me the finger. When I fail to respond they frequently get frustrated and gun on into the intersection. It's a mess and as far as I am concerned the only reasonable answer is the elimination of private ownership of motor vehicles. I'm serious.

    I am so sorry for your friend. This obviously strikes close to the heart for all of us.


    1. Hey TJ. Sadly, I think (at this dark moment in time) that for me it comes down to asking the question "is it worth it?" (riding a road bike). Before now I would unequivicobly have answered that as 'YES'.

      However. I have to believe that for Shannon that answer is now a big fat NO.

      I think the actual answer is more akin to 'Yes, until it's No'. If you can go your entire life with no horrific vehicular encounters, then it's an easy answer. But it only takes one. The human body is quite frail, and we don't do so well when interacting w/ a multi-ton vehicle. Sure, the odds are with you in the long run (much like surfers and sharks, or hikers and bears) as there are SO many people out there doing it, and really not THAT many incidents.

      But my problem is the recent development which is NOT in our favor: cell phones. I despise them. It's easy to be invincible when you are inside the moving steel coocoon, taking your gaze off the road anytime you feel like it to see what amazing text you've just recieved (or are typing/sending). Just the distracting qualities of the phone itsself...your mind is NOT on what you are seeing but what you are hearing (study after study has proved this...just TALKING on your cell phone is worse than DUI). Just one swerve a foot or 2 at the wrong moment. Hell...I've done it...zoned out for a moment, tuning the radio or something and realized that I wasn't looking at the road for the last x number of seconds (and thanked my lucky stars there wasn't a cyclist there).

      I don't know where I'm going with this..I'll obviously still ride...but I think I'll do my best to stay with in numbers and all that. All the close calls I've had have been when I've been "Lone Wolf" (solo ride).

  2. Matt, Good post. I certainly don't have a feel good story to make all this better for you, nor do I have a one-up, I'm worse than you, story. I did almost crash yesterday because I was so focused on my rear view mirror that I did not see a big crack in the asphalt that I bounced over. I live and ride in a summer tourist town so I am pretty focused on what the "rubber-neckers" are doing.
    I acquired a 29'er this summer with the idea like TJ has to get me away from the motorist but I am struggling with it some. I just can't find the stretch of dirt road where you just cruise along. Everything is so up and down around here. I'll keep exploring.
    I don't want to diminish the thoughts and feeling you have for your fellow rider and friend that is hurt. It can make one pause when there is an accident and somebody is hurt, or worse. My wife commutes up and down the canyon for work and everytime there is a big accident it affects her for days.....the purpose of driving this road.
    Anyway, this Saturday is our day for the US Pro challenge to come to town. The route runs right it front of the Lumberyard here and about a half mile walk from my house. We've been scoping out places to watch that also won't be a big cluster-fuck of people to deal with. There are predictions of some 50K people trying to get into town to watch. Big day for little Estes Park! If you watch on TV watch for the climb up what is called the switchbacks, pretty good uphill pop before they get to town, then watch as they bomb back down Big Thompson canyon and go through a section called the narrows. They will be flying down and it is curvy with rock walls on one side and the river on the other. Exciting stuff!

    Hey! Good luck finding that peace again when riding, that's what it is all supposed to be about.

  3. I suppose that I am kind of inured to the shock of it, dealing with devastating injury or illness daily at work as I do. These kind of cervical spine injuries happen with swimming, diving, surfing the gutters, having a box fall on your head...
    There are so many ways that life can "get" us. Right now, you are feeling so much more vulnerable on your road bike (and yes, realistically, in some ways you are) BUT...
    The quality of your life is your gift to yourself. We all have the choice to make, to balance the quality vs. the quantity, the memories vs. the now, the joy of activity vs. the comfort of the cocoon.

    There is no right or wrong answer. To us who are not incapacitated like Shannon, living with her injury seems impossible. Yet, I have rarely met a long-term quadriplegic who wanted to throw in the towel and say, "let me go". They seem to have found other joys and meanings for their lives beyond physical abilities.
    On the other hand, for someone like Cathy's cousin, it is harder to look at and say, there is quality of life there despite the limitations. We just don't know really what he is experiencing. In my POA for health care, that is one of the things that I have been very specific about, in the case of a devastating brain injury (plus at my age the chances of meaningful recovery diminish further), advancing dementia, or some such and I can't have even a life of the mind, I won't want to be kept alive. I believe that my spirit will exist in some way. Let me die of the pneumonia or whatever.

    Jens! so great to see him out there trying; he came so close yesterday!!!
    Glad that he has another year riding. So many would miss him (funny that no one seems to miss Levi?)

    The tour tracker has been pretty awesome so far, just a few picture glitches. I have to confess that after Phil mentioned for the 4th time in an hour that Sagan had come to Colorado 2 weeks ago to train, I muted P&P and turned on Eurosport. Maggie and Rob are GOOD!


  4. Hey Rae...I can't imagine dealing w/ people badly injured day after day, but we certainly need people like you who do it (thank you!). I'd imagine you have a different take on it than I would. I'm sure I'll get out of my 'funk' one way or another...for now I'll take it easy and stick with groups...(no more 'lone wolf' rides for a bit, till I get my nerves back).

    I haven't seen a LICK Of the TOC...stupid work..(well, not stupid..just long hours again..why couln't it have been LAST week when I had regular 8 hr days?) Oh well...this week is my last hurrah...launch is next Weds (HOPEFULLY)...and then I get my life back!

    Gotta run..duty calls...glad to hear he pulled a 'jens'...of course he did!

    Later gater!