I’m sitting on the ground beside my bike. I’ve tried to stand up – twice – but the ground kept tilting to a 45-degree angle.
Three of my four teammates are standing around me, offering moral support while we wait for the emergency vehicle. “Why are you guys all wearing the same shirt?” I ask as I look up at them.
They look at each other, then at me, then at my shirt – it’s the same Yukon logo, Whitehorse Food Bank fundraising bicycle shirt. I look down. Clearly annoyed now, I pull at the shirt. “How did I get this on? Where did this come from?”
That’s when they really knew we had to wait for the ambulance. The ambulance confirmed the decision when I took well over half a minute to tell them what year it was.
Day Seven of Cycle Oregon is the end of a long week. While I was tired, having ridden long days four out of the last six, I’d been feeling good that morning.
Wendy and I were riding together for the first time in the week, out of Pendleton towards Elgin, enjoying a beautiful day when we saw a group of three dogs harassing the traffic. Two of them cleared off the road as we got up to them; the third, with clearly no survival skills, ran right in front of my wheel.
I’m OK. So is the dog. After going back to Pendleton for a CT Scan and X-rays (me, not the dog), I was given a clean bill of health and some good drugs, and told to ice my shoulder and be gentle to my head for the next few weeks.
Cycle Oregon is nothing if not organized. I had hardly been discharged from the hospital before they had a transport van there to take us and another injured rider back to the route and a SAG van headed for the finish line in Elgin.
Wendy entertained me the whole way back with several other stories that were evidence of my head rattling, and I entertained her and our fellow rider by wearing the clown nose I’d been given a few days before (don’t ask).
As the van drove towards the finish line, it stopped just short, and the driver told us to get out – we had to cross the finish under our own power. So we did, arm in arm, with big grins for the finish-line camera.
A week later, my shoulder is still complaining a bit, but the memories of the ride are nothing but good. I rode hard and I had a best friend there to support me and make me laugh, despite the circumstance.
My friend Paul gave me a piece of advice I am going to share with you. He told me that helmets degrade with use and sunlight and that, even if it doesn’t look damaged, I need to buy a new one. I am going to take his advice.