Monday, March 9, 2009

Saturday close call

It all started out to be a good weekend. Annette and I were riding to the 2 mile race in Conway with James, Michele, their kids, Russ and Jane. James, Russ and I were going to bike back to Cabot after the race along with Phil C. I had decided I was not racing it as the 2 mile distance might hurt my foot and with next weekend being the Little Rock 1/2 Marathon I didn't want to take a chance.

Everyone had a great race. Afterwards James, Russ, Phil and myself got our bike gear on and head off to Cabot. James had just gotten a new Orbea Ordu Tri Bike and this was only the second ride he had been on with it. We were anxious to see how it would do in comparison to his road bike. There was a very stiff southerly wind so when we pulled out of the parking lot we had a head wind for probably 6 miles almost. I pulled for probably 5 miles then James came to the front to see how the tri bike would be. He immediately hit 23mph and I could not hang. I figured he had to gain at least 2mph with the bike and aero helmet he had on. Once we got turned on Otto Road things were nice. Good smooth road, not much wind. It was actually getting pretty warm though and I was starting to sweat, wishing I didn't have the long sleeve shirt under my jersey.

Let me warn you, there are some fast dogs on Otto Road. Had two come out and chase us and one was a little small dog. I looked down and I was going 20 mph and he was gaining on me. Never seen a dog run that fast! Luckily they didn't take us out. We stopped at Otto Road and Hwy 107 to regroup. Then we headed north towards highway 319. It was just maybe a minute or so later when things went bad.

James was the lead bike with Russ maybe one bike length behind him and then me probably 3-4 behind Russ with Phil behind me about the same. We had somewhat of a nice small downhill, then a slight curve, then the road straighted back up. I noticed on my speedo that we were doing 23mph. Then all of a sudden I see James bike shake on the front and he started going down. Russ tried to swerve to the left to miss him but there was no room and he went down. All of this was happening in split seconds and all I could see was James back sliding across the road in front of me. All I knew is that I didn't want to hit him and go down so I swerved hard left and somehow missed both of them by inches. Phil did the same. It was just like watching the Tour de France on TV when they have a big crash other than this was live. By the time I got stopped and looked back Russ was on the side of the road sitting up and James was laying on the side of the road but moving. Since Russ was closest I checked him for injuries. He was holding his right arm and said "I'm ok, I just have a broke arm". Yes, he did have a bad break, but he was very calm about it. Much calmer than I would have been if it was me. I told him to sit tight and I ran over to James. He was holding his shoulder. I checked it and no bones were poking out so that was good. He was alert, conscious and said it was just his shoulder and side. I figured maybe a broken collar bone and maybe a rib. Phil was on the phone and I started calling 911 for an ambulance. I wanted them checked even if they didn't want to be transported. All the while Phil was grabbing the bikes out of the middle of the road. In less than 5 minutes First Responders arrived from Hilltop and Vilonia Fire Departments. It had to be not much over 5 that MEMS arrived. I lucked out and the two guys on the unit were friends of mine so I knew James and Russ would get extra special care. They told them that unless they wanted a ride to the hospital there wasn't much that they could do which both refused transport as Phil had already gotten Michele on the phone and they were on the way there from Conway. The medics did splint Russ arm and we got a sling to immobilize James shoulder/collar bone. They both had some road rash but nothing severe. James had a spot on the side of his head that looked almost like road rash but it was where his helmet slid on the pavement. Luckily he was wearing one, otherwise it would not have been a good outcome.

Michele and the girls arrived within 15 minutes, probably shocked to see James and Russ sitting hurt on the side of the road. Phil and I got their bikes loaded on the rack and then realized we couldn't go with them. They needed all the room they could. So we decided to just ride on. The MEMS crew did tell me that if we really needed a ride they would make sure we got taken care of but Jackie was on her way to meet us from Conway too so we just rode. The rest of our ride was uneventful and we talked some about what happened. We didn't push the pace and continued on to the BP store at Hwy 5 and 319 where Jackie was meeting us. I got a call from Annette when we got there that they had made it to the ER in Conway and that there was a 2 hour wait so I needed to go pick her and Jane up as soon as I could. Luckily Bailey saw us at the BP and pulled in. She ended up giving me a ride back to my truck at James house. I drove home after that to change and get shoes as mine were in James vehicle in Conway. I was at the ER in less than an hour and the guys just got to go back just shortly after I got there. Since the kids were with Michele, we took the kids home with us and dropped Jane off at her house. This all started probably around 11:15am and it was after 6 before James and Michele got home. Russ ended up getting admitted and they did surgery on his arm/wrist. His break was maybe an inch behind the wrist and seemed to have a lot of damage but the prognosis is good with an estimated 6 week recovery time. James did have a broken distal clavicle (collar bone) and a broken rib. So basically he has to wear a sling till it heals. No surgery needed. Both have a lot of pain for a few days. The bad thing is both these guys were training for the 70.3 Ironman New Orleans in April so now they are out. James also is planning on Ironman Lake Placid which is in July so he may still have time to train for that one. And James new tri bike, well, I got it off the rack yesterday and looked it over. Everything looked good other than the top tube on the carbon frame has about a 2 inch crack in it. I'm sure a bike shop will say it needs replaced. He is hoping his insurance may cover it.

He said his foot came unclipped for some reason and when it did he just lost control of the bike he thinks. He was in aero and that's exactly what it looked like from behind, but things happen so fast we may never really know. One minute your having fun and the next your laying on the side of the road in pain. Could have been much worse, could have been all four of us down or even worse, a car could have been close. All in all we were pretty lucky.

As far as my training, for Saturday I ended up with 24.3 miles with a 17.4 mph average pace. The ride would have gotten us close to 40 if we had got it all done. Maybe next time.


gabsatrucker said...

You're absolutely right about 1 minute having fun and the next laying on the ground. Glad you were able to miss them and didn't go down too. I hate that this happened to them so close to their event. Russ has got such a great personality that I can just hear him saying he's ok, just a broken arm. James has got at least a couple of weeks of sleeping on the couch or sitting up ahead of him. I think it took me at least 2 months before I could comfortably sleep in the bed again. At least he doesn't have to worry about a bra, LOL! Yeah, I know, TMI.


ShirleyPerly said...

Oh man, a major bummer to crash any day but particularly on a new bike and so close to a big race. Indeed, I'm not 100% sure what caused my bike crash last year. Just as you said, one minute having fun and the next minute down on the ground. I'm glad everyone was wearing helmets and those who were injured will live to ride another day.

Rusty Squire said...

Good for you. Happy cross training.