On Sunday, August 20th, I was involved in an accident on State Highway 96, five miles west of Wetmore, CO. I felt it very important to wait and announce this until all the details and information were concrete. I am ok, resting, and able to finally formulate a post.
At approximately 11am, I was forced off of the road by a Ford F-350 Truck hauling a large trailer. I saw the truck in my rear view mirror and made sure I was riding right of the white line, giving him extra room to pass me. As he approached however, he drifted behind me onto the white line and there was no longer a shoulder. My tires sank off the road into sand and slid right, causing me to fall left back onto the highway, landing full force on my left knee. I landed directly in front of a car who was following very closely behind the truck. I threw my arm up, and the car saw me just in time to swerve and avoid running over my upper body. I will never forget the sound of those tires screeching behind my head. EVER.
The truck never slowed down or stopped and the car pulled off for a few seconds, then drove away. I got up, propped my bike up, and flagged down a truck going back toward Wetmore. The concerned and generous couple loaded me up and took me to Wetmore Community Center, where a Veteran’s Organization called Team Rubicon was currently deployed to help with a natural disaster in the area. We took the following photo that morning before the accident. These guys are INCREDIBLE. Military family is everywhere.
Rory (Navy Vet) and Ruth, both EMTs, examined me on the spot and made me comfortable while they finished their TR Op. Rory told me that the group actually heard the tire screech from their job site and wondered what the heck that was. “That was me not getting run over,” I half-smiled.
Jeremy (Army Vet), loaded me into his truck, along with my bike and gear, and we drove to Colorado Springs for the night. Rory and his wife Ellie had invited me into their home for dinner and to relax. Rory helped sterilize my knee and got me elevated and set up with bandages.
Denver VA Hospital
On Tuesday, Jeremy drove over an hour to the ER at the Denver VA Hospital. The Colorado Springs VA Clinic told me that I need to go to Denver in order to be seen, for some reason… I was VERY anxious to learn the extent of my injuries. The drive there was absolutely beautiful, at least.
Within an hour, I was admitted, triaged, and sent up to the radiology department for X-rays. We met with Dr. Tyler Schmidt, who confirmed that there was NOT a fracture. After explaining again that I am positive there is a problem internally, he ordered a CT Scan for a clearer picture. Linda, the CT technician and a fellow cyclist, actually gave me her personal cell and offered her home to me if I needed a place to stay while in Denver. The CT Scan came back clear of fractures (not even a hair line), but the Doctor concluded that I do have a moderate Medial Ligamental Sprain with possible micro-tearing. I waited patiently for my IBUProfen prescription; and although there’s nothing sexy about a giant knee brace, I still gave it a solid try. Hey, laugh now, cry later.
I had already told myself if there wasn’t a fracture and surgery wasn’t necessary, that I AM pressing on, no matter what. Doctor’s recommendation: Stay off my knee for a couple weeks, icing and elevating. Then I can slowly re-introduce my knee to the pedaling motion. Clipping and unclipping my shoe into the left pedal is no longer an option, which is fine. I went down to prosthetics and was fitted for a hinged knee brace as well as a knee sleeve for added support.
I am currently in Colorado Springs and am in very good hands. The Veterans here have been taking me out for meals, and after quickly gauging how hard headed I can be, are making sure I don’t ‘overdo’ it.
A local cycling host named Jeffrey took me into his home for a comfortable and quiet recovery, completely free of charge. Turns out, he spent a lot of his youth in my tiny hometown of Norwalk, OH. His Grandpa was a pastor at the church where I attended pre-school, and also where my Dad took me sledding every single winter… He still has his Grandpa’s commemorative plate with the Lutheran Church engraved, seen below. This is INSANELY uncanny – almost scary. 🙂
Overall, I am fortunate and grateful. This could have been significantly worse and I couldn’t have hand picked a better group of people to be surrounded by. Now, to brainstorm my plan of attack for the majestic and massive Rocky Mountains as well as the rest of my journey…
~ Shed any and all weight off my gear that is not absolutely essential for survival
~ Plan a less steep route back into the Rocky Mountains, still maintaining 4,000+ total miles
~ Begin carefully cycling with no gear around the Colorado Springs area by early next week
~ Add gear back to my bike and cycle locally by late next week and be back on route by next Sunday
I will still make my Kansas / great plains post soon, but wanted to keep you all in the loop with this very unexpected plot twist. Before this journey began, I made a promise to myself that it would take a true worst case scenario for my ride to end.
// NOTHING FOLLOWS //