26 April, 2006

Broken All Over

It's hard to understand hardcore cyclists. Even married to one for 15 years, I scratch my head at the people who like to unwind by "doing a quick fifty (miles)" every Monday and Thursday night. There's a certain mania to it. My better half writes a column for the local bike club newsletter. I'll let him tell you about it in his own words:
I readily admit that I get just a little bit insufferable this time of year. I can’t help it. Some people live for Christmas, while others prefer the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving. For me, the greatest, most festive season plays out in the lead-up to the first day of spring. The temperature rises, the days get longer and, like the grass and the trees, I find myself coming back to life. The fact that another cycling season is getting up to speed only adds fuel to the fire. You – and my wife – will have to cut me some slack until I get it out of my system.

Well, spring is here. Our garage workshop, which normally houses five bikes, has been brimming over with new tenants as Tim does spring overhauls, trues wheels, installs bike computers and performs his wizardry in a hundred other ways I don't understand. Every Monday and Thursday he joins his ride club (which I perversely insist on calling "the biker gang") for pushes throughout Wilson County, climing up Microwave Hill, breezing down Guelph Rd. and being chased by country dogs. It's just life as seen by the wife of a cyclist who is also a master craftsman.

This Monday night, however, things went a little diffferently.

A few miles out, one of the women on the ride stopped suddenly, going from 27 mph to 0 almost instantly. She flew over her handlebars and landed on her head. Her helmet did do its job: instead of being dead she is merely suffering from an intracranial bleed, a factured neck, a broken cheekbone, a lacerated spleen and assorted other breaks and tears. They moved her by ambulance from Summit Medical Center to Vanderbilt Trauma ICU, where she's being carefully observed. In her words yesterday she is "broken all over."

These things never fail to scare me, and this type of event is why I stick to my recumbant exercise bike in the basement. I'm writing this today for three reasons:

1. Please keep this young woman in your thoughts and prayers. She has a long road back to health.
2. Please always wear a helmet when you cycle. Yes, I'm a libertarian. You don't have to wear a helmet if you don't want to. Feel free to risk dying in one of the stupidest ways possible--by falling off your bicycle. It's your choice.
3. Please remember, when you see someone riding their bike along the side of the road that they are someone's son or daughter. They are likely also someone's husband or wife, father or mother. They also pay their taxes and are riding a legitimate vehicle. Please don't harrass them. Keep in mind how much oil they're NOT using, leaving some left for your car, truck or SUV.


At 1:56 PM, April 26, 2006, Blogger Peggasus said...

They scare me too.

My brother was hit while on one years ago, and fortuntely not seriously inured. He has not riddden since.

My cousin was hit while on one many years ago, and left for dead on the side of the road. He, also fortunately, survived. He, also, has not ridden since.

My sister-in-law's sister was hit while on one three years ago and was killed. She was 38 and left two children.

They were all wearing helmets. I understand that it is, much of the time, about people in cars rather than them, but it still frightens the shit out of me. Me, I am always extremely careful when driving around motorcylcles. I hope your friend comes through this.

At 3:23 PM, April 26, 2006, Blogger Patrick said...

Just about every person I know who has ridden a motorcycle for any length of time (except for Mark) has had a wreck on one. The good thing about non-motorized cycling is that generally you are at a lower velocity and you're in a group... both of which tend to make you more alive.

At 6:51 PM, April 26, 2006, Anonymous tom said...

I can sort of sympathize with Tim waiting for spring. There's something quite Zen to removing yourself from the world and quietly communing with nature.

I used to ride minimum 3 days per week. I'd ride anytime I could. I often would get up at 530 or 6am to ride through the park. Yes, I did.

One bonus about Indiana is that there was rarely the problem of hills or even other cyclists that early in the morning.

I don't bike anymore because my bike is really crappy and broken, but it was worth the 80 bucks I paid for it. I want to go riding again, but I don't want to shell out anything for a new bike.

I've still got my helmet if I ever do ride again.

At 9:22 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Short and Fat said...

I like to ride, but I got hit by a car a few years ago. Very low speed, only road rash, and it was the last straw. Drivers don't look out for cyclists, and we don't have ridiculously loud exhaust pipes to alert them to our presence.

After I got hit, I quit riding streets altogether...now it's only parks and greenways. Of course, I never rode more than 15 miles anyway.

Good luck to your friend.


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