Thursday, August 8, 2013

The risks we take

Back on Tuesday after work I stopped by my LBS (Local Bike Shop) to finally figure out which list I need to be on to ensure I'd get all the emails about the cycling club I joined back in February (Col Vento Cycling). Since I started riding with them I've been on again/off again in reciept of the clubs weekly emails about the upcoming events and rides...during the times when I wasn't recieving the emails I'd just show up by 8:05am on Saturday morning at the usual place, and over the next 10 minutes or so a varying amount of people would show up to ride, and off we'd go on the stroke of 8:20 to 8:25'ish (one thing that constantly annoys me is people showing up LATE to group rides, and everybody waiting for one or two's a pet peeve of mine).  I'd tried every link from the Main Street Cycles website, but nothing short of showing up in person and having my email address placed into the "Constant Contact" site has worked. This seemed to be the ticket, as on Wednesday I got a club update about Shannon and her reccovery. RECOVERY? You see, she had been hit by a vehicle back on July 18th while on a bike ride, and I JUST found out about it (I've been working so many hours that I've missed all of the club rides for the last month). Here's the note in the club email:

For those the didn't know. 
Shannon was hit while on her bicycle when a Ford Ranger turned right at an intersection into her.  The result was a shattered C6 vertebrae in her neck and severe spinal column damage.  There was lots of road rash but not a single other bone was broken.  
Please keep Shannon and the Sweeney family in your thoughts and prayers. 
Here is a web page to keep you updated:  


I've ridden with Shannon many times since my humble club-ride beginnings back in February, and she is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet (and she's a beast on the bike too btw).

Her husband Eric (whom I've not yet had the pleasure of meeting) started the blog. If you are interested, the link is above, just below the large print notice and is simply called "SHANNON". Eric has been posting updates about her progress and occasional pictures. The latest update says she is FINALLY well enough to travel up to San Jose where she will continue her recovery at an "Acute Care Clinic". Her insurance won't cover a helicopter ride, so they had considered flying, but now it seems they are down to 'ground transportation' (ambulance I assume, being as she's still on a respirator, breathing thru a tracheostomy). She's also still getting her food thru an IV (Eric said her calories were upped to 72 an hour just yesterday, as it's been quite a struggle to get her systems functioning again)....she's been thru Pnumonia among other things, including MRSA (had to look that up on the's a bad form of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics). It meant everybody coming into contact with her needed to wear a smock and gloves.

Here's Eric's blog paragraph from the 19th (the day after the accident):

"Shannon underwent over 6 hours of surgery to remove the shattered bone and rebuild her neck with titanium. Shannon can control her biceps and shoulders but cannot feel or move anything else from just under her collar bone.  She can feel most of her fingers, but not move them."

Here's the one picture I'll post, Eric put it on the blog 2 days ago:

I have a hard time reconciling this picture with the chatty super-nice girl I've been riding with on Saturdays.

In the blink of an eye her life has changed dramaticly, thru no fault of her own. I can't imagine how her family is dealing with this (along with her husband Eric they have 2 boys).  Life can (and usually does) change in an instant. I can't even begin to imagine when she will be back on the bike again...I'd say that it's not sure she will be, but knowing her (she is quite a fighter) I'm sure she will. And while I'm sending her my thoughts and prayers for a full and speedy recovery, I can't help but ponder how helpless we are out there on our bikes. How fragile we really are. And how so very much of what happens to us is out of our control...she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't know the specifics of the accident but think about it a LOT in these last 2 days (was the driver on his cell phone? Just didn't see her? HOW did this happen?) I know that I've always been scared to death about drivers using their cell phones in a non-hands free mode. I see it  EVERY DAY, even though it's illegal here in California. And talking on the phone while holding it up to your ear with one hand is bad enough (you can almost always tell, as they are OBVIOUSLY not paying attention very well), but that's not NEARLY as scary as the ones I see continually looking up and down as they are texting with their phone in their lap.

I just don't see  how this  will ever be fixed until the law is changed to make cell phone use (non hands free) an offense comprable to DUI...where the first offense nets you a minimum 6 months loss of liscense, along with HUGE fines (and your needing to hire a lawyer) and even possibly a week or 2 of jail time...THAT would fix this problem in a jiffy I bet. Surely the drinking and driving is FAR less of a problem than it was 20 years ago, when the courts handed a wink and a hand-slap small fine even when someone died. Cell phones are surely the scariest thing to happen to cyclists since the invention of the automobile and booze. But as I said, I have no idea if the driver of the car that hit her was on his phone...I'm just going off on a rant becasue I know how dangerous they are to those of us not surrounded by a ton or so of steel (and even then, when 2 auto's collide it's never going to be a good thing). Surely all the drivers who use their phones non  hands-free, I'm sure they all feel like it's no big deal (right up until they ruin somebody's life that is, and possibly their own). It's much like the drunk drivers...sure they are sorry afterwards, but up until that moment it was something that happens to 'other people'. And I'd by lying if I said that I've NEVER picked up my cell phone while driving and made a call (however I CAN say that I've never texted...but that's not really saying much as I think I've only made one or two texts EVER, and that was year ago)...but now I have food for thought and the will to NOT EVER do that again. I know I need to do better, and I vow that I shall. The posiblity of being hurt while enjoying a ride just got a whole lot more personal.

I urge everybody to think for a moment when behind the wheel. It only takes a moment for things to go horribly wrong...but we'll never know how many tragic accidents have been avoided by people simply paying more attention on the road. Sometimes we all need a little 'wake-up call' to get us to think differently. Shannon and her family sure got theirs.

Be safe out there and remember to share the road. We all need to look out for each other!

Stay Frosty!



  1. Well...the Tour of Utah is in the history books. I watched all the stages (albiet in HIGH SPEED playback mode for most of it). I must admit that I was a bit dismayed in stage 5 when Horner sat on Tommy D's wheel and wouldn't take ANY turns up front. Sure, he claimed team tactics (and on the ONE hand he was right..he had 2 guys just behind, so IF Tommy D slowed they would be caught and one of his teammates would have a shot at the win). I understand that...however I still don't particularily care for it. I've always liked Horner, and would have liked to see him take a few pulls anyway...if nothing else than for honors sake. I know it's bike racing, but after Tommy did
    ALL the work to pull back the leader, and then have Horner pass him in the final 50 meters just raises my hackles. So on one hand I was happy Horner was in yellow...but I was sad for Tommy, though that sadness for him was short lived as he CRUSHED it in the final stage and won the GC! Good for you Tommy...THAT was a fitting reward. And welcome back! Hope this gives you the confidence you need to start being a real PLAYER in stage races. Bring it on Tommy D!

  2. Oh, and as to Horner, glad to see you are recovered from your surgery, and hope this gives you some confidence, and that you can hit the Vuelta HARD...I'd LOVE to see you podium there!

  3. I missed all of it, but very happy to hear that TD won and CH is back and competitive! Yes, I have never liked the sit on and take no pulls tactic, but it is very common -- still, I like to see my favs getting in there and making the race!

    So very sorry about your group ride friend, I do hope that she can recover.

    Fabulous weather today, but I will have to bomb the yard for mosquitos before I can work out there. One of the few things that I loved about Phoenix... no mosquitos. Rae

  4. Hey Rae...I hear ya' about mosquitoes...they LOVE me (I'm pretty sure when I travel to a mosquito area they send out little telegraphs to all the surrounding areas that I'm coming and to bring their appetites). Years back in Norfolk, Jeannie and I took a nice evening walk to the beach and I was feeling all itchy...when we got back I had like 200 bites on my back...THRU my T-shirt! Jeannie had ZERO. Thankfully we don't have rain here so hence no little flying bloodsuckers.
    Anyway...must be nice to hae warm's been a rather strange 'summer'...(well, in all honesty I've been working the crazy shifts so have spend the majority of the last 3+ months here on base, and the weather has just been miserable! Early mornings out at the pad I feel like I must be in Siberia...howlling winds, blowing liquid air..I'm wearing a hoodie (hood UP), and my regular jacket over that. I keep seeing on the news how the rest of the country is having summer...and I'm jealous. Gosh I'd love to move...except for our jobs...and house. HATE HATE HATE the weather here. I'm tropical after all (as is Jeannie).

    OK...I'm off to the pad..(it's not my 'week' to support but I've been sucked in anyway).

  5. Oh...forgot to post that Shannon's husband posted yesterday afternoon that she sat in a wheelchair and was off the ventilator for 6 hours yesterday (Tues)...which is a huge improvment! Coming up on a MONTH after the incident and she's still on a ventilator...can you imagine?

  6. Matt, so sorry to hear about your friend Shannon. I wish her a full recovery and hope she can return to her family some day soon.

    That was not the case for my cousin Gary that was hit more than a year ago if you remember. He's alive but in a chair for the rest of his life, can't speak, constant changed the life of his 81 year old father and his sister, too. They are now his caregivers.

    I would've been shocked if Horner had taken a pull on that stage - not his responsibility to do so. But he did say in his post race comments that Tom was the better rider, and then of course the next day he proved it!

    Back from a great vacation to our family home in PA. Why can't vacation be endless????

  7. Hey Cathy...been meaning to ask about utterly sad for him and his family. I try not to think about it too much, but getting scared'er and scard'er on my road bike...TOO many drivers not paying attention...see them every day when I'm in the somewhat safety of my car...maybe when some politicians family members get killed/paralyzed by 'distracted drivers' then the laws will finally start to change...took quite a while but finally got rid of the 'it's ok to drink and drive' thoughts that were pretty much accepted practice 20+ years ago.

    I understand 'tacticly' why Chris didn't take any pulls...but emotionally I expect more from the 'guys in white hats' like Chris (and Tommy D, & CVV, & Jens, etc). Yeah, he gets a pass due to team-tactics, but that doesn't take away the icky feeling I got watching the him draft the whole way & then pass for the win. I like to think some guys are just better than that. After all, this was the guy who (years ago in the Cascade Classic) helped a guy who had crashed and had a broken bike....had him sit on the seat (legs dangling clear) while he stood up pedaling the guy (carying his broken bike) all the way across the line so he could finish. Thought that was one of the classiest acts I've ever seen in this 'gentlemans' sport. Taking pulls out front helping his friend Tommy D (and enemy albiet at that moment in time) until they get close to the line would have been like that...above and beyond sportsmanship. But so much is on WINNING anymore that those acts are quite rare. Still, I wish he had...what can I 9th set of rose colored glasses are BACK out of the attic I guess.

  8. I understand the sentiment, of course! But I also should say that Chris has not raced much this year and has no results and needs a contract for that would have played into the scenario too. It's just a reality when the sponsors are putting out big bucks.

    I am going to most of the Colorado race starting next Wednesday (will miss Mon and Tue in person) so am very excited to see some more racing in person! I think there is a TV partner or at least Tour Tracker. And Eneco Tour is live every morning this week on Universal Sports. This morning I saw an ad for the Vuelta live everyday starting Aug 24 - Horner will race there so that starts soon, also!

  9. I am still ticked off at Universal Sports for closing off access to those whose cable company doesn't carry them! Boo!

    I sincerely hope Chris does get a contract soon, if not hope that we will be seeing him in a commentary box.

    Eneco tour, great race! Plan to watch tomorrow's stage, Hoping that Taylor Phinney held his position today to make a challenge for the win. (one can dream)

    I likely do not need to say how jealous I am, Cathy? Are you sure the team doesn't need a team grandma? I can make good brownies! And I would be willing to ditch the blue argyle phone case! Even wear a scarf, too!


  10. NBC Sports is covering Colorado live every afternoon, I think, so check your listings and set the dvr! Then Universal is showing Vuelta live, but that will also be on Eurosport for sure (not sure if CO will be on Eurosport).

    It's fun to go in person, especially when I only have the one race to cover each day for the most part. (This isn't true for California as I'm writing reports for Giro every day too.) For CO I only double up with Vuelta next Sat and Sun, plus another race on Sunday also, so triple work that day. It almost seems like a real "holiday".

    I hope to share some news with you guys after the CO race!