This past Saturday, in Waxahachie, Texas, I did my 12th bike rally of the year and my 528th overall. The rally, known as the Cow Creek Country Classic, is in its 26th year. This was my 20th of the past 23. Several of my friends showed up (click the image to enlarge) and everyone was in a good mood at the start. I vacillated between riding 101 miles and riding 78 miles. I knew it would be brutally hot at the finish, but I also knew that if I slowed my pace to about 16 miles per hour, I could complete the long course, which would make me feel good afterward. None of my friends was game for 101, but that was okay, because I wanted to be out by myself, riding at my own pace.
By the time I reached the rest stop at 34 miles, where Julius and Joe were waiting, I was feeling good and had decided to ride 101 miles. I told Joe to go ahead of me, as Julius had, but he insisted on riding with me. Phil eventually caught up as well. Then Phil got dropped again as Joe and I fought a headwind near Milford. A man we didn't know sat on our wheel for a few miles as we took turns pulling. Once, when Joe went to the front, the man went with him, settling in between us. I got on his wheel. Almost immediately, he hit Joe's rear wheel, which threw his (the stranger's) bike to the left. This caused the stranger's rear wheel to hit my front wheel, which in turn threw me to the ground. All of this happened at over 20 miles per hour.
The crash, if I may say so, was horrific. I knew I was going down as soon as I saw his wheel jink to the left, but could do nothing to stop it or steel myself for it. My left shoulder and head hit the pavement at high speed. (Someone told me that my helmet, which was left at the scene, is cracked.) I could feel my body sliding on the rough road. (That explains the road rash on my left wrist, shoulder, chest, hip, and leg.) Finally, I came to a stop. I couldn't breathe. I moaned loadly, bordering, I suppose, on screaming. Joe and the stranger came to my assistance. They got me to the side of the road, in a sitting position, with my feet in the grass. Soon, as I tried to (1) keep from passing out and (2) get my breathing under control, I heard other voices. One of them, apparently, was that of a medical technician. I used Joe's cellphone to call Katherine, who didn't answer. (Joe later got through to her.) For some reason, perhaps the brightness of the sun (or dripping perspiration), I couldn't open my eyes. My glasses fell off. People kept talking to me as I tried to stay conscious.
You get the picture. It was awful. Eventually, I was helped to my feet. Someone put me into a truck with air conditioning, which made things better. I could open my eyes. I felt my collarbone, which was obviously broken. A sharp point of the broken bone threatened to break through the skin. Someone put a sling on my arm. Joe and Phil did all they could do for me. The stranger, they said, left shortly after the accident. I don't blame him; there was nothing else for him to do once the experts arrived. I do find it ironic that, even though the accident was his fault, his life didn't miss a beat, while I, who was faultless, have my life disrupted.
I'm still in pain, more than four days later. I go in for surgery Friday morning to have a plate inserted in my shoulder. It will connect the broken parts of my collarbone so that it heals properly. I've been taking pain pills since visiting the emergency room in Waxahachie. The emergency-room doctor told me that "they don't set broken collarbones anymore," which I knew was false. Certainly my broken bone wasn't going to heal on its own. The two parts aren't even touching! I should sue the bastard. If I have any complications, I will.
Thus ended a promising bike rally. Since I can't ride for eight weeks, according to my orthopedist, I will have to miss several other rallies as well (not to mention refrain from running, which will drive me crazy). I ended up with 54.43 miles at an average speed of 16.31 miles per hour. (Elapsed time = 3:20:13.) Joe and Phil went on to complete the 78-mile course. Later, they met Katherine and me in the emergency room as I was being released. The four of us went to Taco Bell, since I was starving. The official high temperature for the day was 97º. The average wind speed was 6.1 miles per hour, with gusts to 14. My average heart rate was 119 and my maximum 154. I burned 3,115 calories. My top speed for the ride was 32.7 miles per hour.
To add insult to injury, I, a young buck of 55, was described by the medical technician on the scene of the accident as "an elderly gentleman." Unfortunately, Joe heard this. I will never hear the end of it.
Addendum: Sad to say, but there was another serious accident during the rally. When I arrived at a bridge at about 35 miles, I found at least two emergency vehicles in the road, with their lights flashing. A rider was immobilized on a stretcher. He looked unconscious. We had to dismount our bikes and walk past, since the road was narrow. I later learned that this rider went to the same emergency room as I did, only earlier. He had a broken collarbone, a broken arm, and facial injuries. Apparently, he blew a tire at high speed.
Addendum 2: There was a third accident, this one involving our friend Mike, who was doing a short course. Joe tells me that Mike hit a curb at a rest stop and went head over heels. I hope you're doing well, Mike!