Sunday Bloody Sunday

12 Sep

Blood Soaked Helmet (clck to enlarge)

There are few things randonneurs fear more than the dreaded “DNF” (i.e. Did Not Finish). We pride ourselves on our endurance and ability to overcome physical, mental, emotional, and mechanical obstacles to reach the finish line. On Saturday morning I started out from Simi Valley on my first 400K ride (~250 miles for the imperially inclined) – it would be my longest ride to date, but I was determined to finish in 16 hours (to continue to qualify for the R60)…little did I know I wouldn’t end up finishing at all.

Initially I was having a great ride, enjoying the foggy sunrise as I huffed-and-puffed up Balcom canyon, making my way to the first control at Fillmore with Jim Verheul. The fragrance of oranges and sage perfumed the valley out to Oxnard. I was ahead of pace at this point, and feeling good. In Hueneme I flatted, but was able to get rolling again without excessive delay.

Point Mugu was gorgeous as usual, and I glanced at the azure water lapping the cliffs all through Malibu. I played leap-frog with Jerry Cook and his riding partner (wife?), Molly off and on through Palos Verdes (where I added 13.6 bonus miles by having to back-track to a missed control), seeing JV once again in San Pedro as well before I realized I had to turn back around.

I stopped at a Whole Foods to re-fuel (coconut water, smoothies, chocolate milk – my standard rando staples) and was wondering why all of the people in line were so rude to the cashier, when it dawned on me that I had just crossed the “Orange Curtain” (into Orange County) [edit: Eric is right, this was in Long Beach]. I was hoping to reach San Clemente before dark, but I only made it to Laguna Beach. I passed Jerry for the last time as Molly was starting to bonk and needed a food break. I was flagging a bit myself, but managed to pull it together in San Clemente.

Once darkness fell, I picked up the pace again, zooming over the same roads I used on the SD Randos 300K – I made up quite a bit of time cranking out the miles over the I-5 (enduring a few honks from motorists not used to seeing a bicycle on the freeway), pausing only to pick up a Planet Flash tail light someone had lost on the side of the road.

Crossing through Carlsbad, Leucadia, and Encinitas, the road surface was the only thing slowing my progress, with some serious potholes and cars passing a bit too close for comfort (requiring me to take the full lane). With only 3 miles left, I was going to finish somewhere between 16 and 16.5 hours…I was in my highest gear, motoring along with a mixture of fatigue and confidence when I somehow ran into a median. I saw it just in time to try to hop over it (I think a car was passing closely at the time, preventing my escape), saving myself from an endo (and probably broken bones) – the hop wasn’t entirely successful either though, as I skidded on my side, hitting my head hard enough to knock myself out.

Apparently a police officer found me in a pool of blood (head wounds are pretty gory), out cold. The next thing I remember was being in the back of an ambulance, the EMTs asking me questions and complimenting my bicycle (which has some saddle and bar-tape abrasions and possibly bent/broken brifters but no frame damage) which they brought to the hospital for me. I had a CT scan to rule out cranial hemorrhaging, a chest x-ray (to make sure my lungs weren’t damaged), and a tetanus shot. The doctor eventually sewed up my gaping forehead (8 stitches), made sure my concussion was under control, and sent me on my way. Everyone in the ER was very friendly and competent, so hats off to the Scripps Lajolla staff.

The only thing I was upset about was that they wouldn’t let me go back to the crash scene and ride the final 3 miles to the finish – even after 5 hours in the hospital, I still would have finished in time…oh well. Time for some R&R and a new helmet to ready myself for the upcoming 1000K (which I hope I and my bike can recover in time for) at the end of the month.

Me "all cleaned up"

I'm still a blood-smattered mess this morning...


9 Responses to “Sunday Bloody Sunday”

  1. Jerald Cook September 12, 2010 at 6:42 PM #

    Sorry to hear about your crash. When we finished and realized you hadn’t finished Molly and I were concerned that you might have been involved in one of the accidents we heard about. In fact, we saw the ambulance that you were probably in. Sounds like you are bouncing back. Keep at it, and be safe.

  2. Kristina September 12, 2010 at 7:36 PM #

    I’m sorry about your wipe out but so happy to hear that someone picked you up before you bled to death. Geez.

    How long were you out? You’ve probably had a concussion before, but do take care of yourself. I’m going to wish my primary symptom on you: a perpetual sense of well being and good will towards men.

  3. Eric Anderson September 12, 2010 at 8:31 PM #

    Man, three miles short after 13 bonus miles… that’s just cruel. You are due for some good luck. The cycling gods have been kicking you around. Like when you helped someone fix their flat on the 200k, and then had a flat yourself.

    As a resident of the OC, I have to point out that I think that the Whole Paycheck that you were in is in the city of Long Beach.

    Heal fast.

  4. Ed Shepherd September 12, 2010 at 9:33 PM #

    Truly sorry to hear someone was more seriously injured than I(a little railroad track slip in San Pedro, that will have me bruised and limping for a bit). It sounds like the most tragic aspect is not being able to finish your brevet. I feel for you, buddy, and look forward to seeing back on the road.

  5. Jaime September 13, 2010 at 3:56 AM #

    A speedy recovery wish your way. What a darn shame being so close to the finish. It sounds like you hit one of those parking medians in Encinitas. I hate riding through there almost as much as I do riding through Laguna Beach.

  6. Sarah K September 13, 2010 at 8:13 AM #

    WOAH…glad you are safely home.

  7. Marcus September 13, 2010 at 10:15 AM #

    Damn man! I am glad you are okay! Helmets are a life saver!

  8. Rebecca Meredith September 16, 2010 at 11:20 AM #

    awwwwww. man, glad you’re okay. even without the official finish, you still should be proud of your first long ride. Big hug.



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