The day everything changed

The following is an entry dated October 10 from my 2003 Training Log. It was my normal 22-mile lunchtime ride from Chesterfield to Frontenac along Conway and back to Chesterfield along Clayton and Baxter. I was near the end of the ride when my  world was (literally) turned upside down:

Solo ride on a beautiful day. Today, however, everything changed. I was descending at ~30 mph down Baxter just N of Clayton. There’s a sewer grate about halfway down the hill – I look back and I see this landscaper’s type truck behind me. He wasn’t real close, so I signal left, take the middle of the lane until I pass the grate, then move back over to the right. I hear the trunk revving up – he passes me fast and close and then veers hard into my line – that’s when I realize he’s also pulling a trailer! The trailer broadsides me before I have a chance to react, and I go down hard. I remember hitting the back of my head on the street and tumbling over several times. As soon as I stopped, I crawled over the curb onto the grass and just layed there face down. People were there to help me within seconds, including several witnesses. The driver left the scene, but one of the witnesses chased him down and got his license. I spent the next 8 hours in the ER at St. John in a neck brace. Eventually, x-rays cleared me and they let me go with a bruised back and shoulder, a wrenched knee, a few stitches, and lots of road rash. My helmet is destroyed – big cracks all over the back half with chunks of foam missing – it saved my life!

No broken bones makes it seem like I got off easy, and considering I was still alive I guess that was the case. However, it would be ten weeks before my knee heeled and I could get back on the bike (a loaner from Mike W—my Kestrel was destroyed). Here is the entry from my training log dated December 12—the day I first got back on the bike:

Solo ride on cold, gray day. FIRST ride back after being hit by the truck. Not surprisingly, I’ve lost a lot of strength and stamina. I winded quickly and had to use very low gears on the hills, and my butt really hurts! My knee twinged a couple of times on me – it still has some pain – but overall it held up fine. I’ve got a long road back – which is depressing, but it was really great to be on a bike again. The cold didn’t bother me even though the last time I rode I wore short sleeves. Mike W. gave me loaner to use for now – a Cannondale CAAD7 will full DuraAce and Ksyrium wheels. It’s an all out racing machine – quick and super responsive. The frame is much stiffer than my Kestrel (may she rest in peace!), so I’m not sure how much I’d like it for long training rides.

 I didn’t know it at the time, but that ride was the first small step towards what turned out to be my breakout season as a bike racer.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2003, 2013

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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