Archives For Bikes N Coffee

Friends indeed

May 5, 2014 — 7 Comments

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They say with bike crashes that it is not a matter of if, but when. Yesterday was my turn.

I woke early to meet Dave, Bob and PJ for breakfast before the start of this year’s Monument to Monument Ride. I have not made many of Bob’s monthly century rides lately, being too consumed with training for this summer’s Lake Placid Iron Man, but was determined not to miss this ride.

The weather was perfect and we along with nearly 100 other riders leave Baltimore’s Mount Vernon at 8:15 AM. Dave and I bring up the rear to make sure that no rider is dropped and left to finish the ride alone. Along the way Dave fixes a broken chain for another rider and we help a first timer make it to Union Station where she has decided to call it a day.

Bob and PJ are interspersed with other riders, but the four of us meet up again at 6:00 PM on Hammonds Ferry Road and ride into Baltimore together, hoping to make it to Hampden in time for a quick dinner and some beer. We leave the Gwynns Falls Trail and turn right onto Warner Street. Bob and PJ are a bit ahead and out of sight when Dave and I make the turn. Warner Street is criss-crossed with abandoned rail tracks and although I have rolled across them dozens of times before without incident, today is different. I am a bit tired and inattentive and before I know it I am tumbling to the pavement and steel below my left elbow.

I seem fine at first, although my sunglasses are missing and my face is hot and wet. Dave stops and runs back to me. The look on his face tells me I am in trouble. I look down and my jersey and shorts are showing the spots that are forming as the blood slowly drips down my face and off my chin.

Dave retrieves the first aid kit from my bag and opens it. It is very windy and I have stuffed the kit with extra bandages which the wind catch and send skipping down the road. Dave opens a roll of gauze, wads it and hands it to me. Bob and PJ have now turned back to find us and when they arrive the gauze is already soaked through. I start shivering and Dave covers my legs with the sweater, pictured above, that I was wearing earlier in the day.

I am sitting with my back against a jersey wall being kept company by the best friends in the world when Medic 4 pulls up. The ambulance is massive and stops¬†within inches from where I am sitting. Two paramedics climb down, get swiftly to work and before long I am headed to the University of Maryland Medical Center. I am over-anxious and can’t stop talking. They read my blood pressure and I am shocked by how high it is. “That’s not my normal blood pressure,” I almost shout. They reassure me that everything is okay and that my blood pressure spike is a normal reaction to the pain that I am experiencing. I still can’t stop talking. I ask them what it’s like to treat a gunshot wound and they tell me. I ask them about car crashes, stabbings, gun battles and asthma. They take my questions in stride as they drive me matter of factly to the hospital. When we arrive they wheel me to the emergency room and stay with me for a while. Our talk turns to bikes, bike trails and bike shops. I am calmer now and say goodbye without ever learning their names.

A wonderful nurse practitioner takes care of me. An hour later she counts aloud the sixteen stitches that she has used to sew my left eyebrow and lid back together.  Her name is Jodi and she asks me about what happened and how I got help. And I tell her what you are reading now.

When I get home I notice that the face of my Garmin watch is scratched and cracked. I have used this watch to help with training and although it is pretty beat up I don’t plan on replacing it. Instead, if all goes well, I will be wearing it when I cross the finish line on July 27th. And when I turn it off after the race I will remember and give thanks to my friends Dave, Bob and PJ who were with me when I needed them yesterday.

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And the next time you see Medic 4 on the streets of Baltimore be sure to give them a wave and a smile for me.

Some of my best friends write blogs about bicycling. Seriously.

First, there is Bob Wagner, a cycling enthusiast well known for organizing monthly 100 mile bike rides that start and end in Baltimore. He writes brilliant posts about these adventures in The Rando Ramble – Long Distance Biking in and out of Baltimore and freely shares his routes, cue sheets and GPS files. Many bike clubs treat this kind of data like State secrets, but Bob believes in freely sharing his work product and is to be commended for it. One of his most popular rides is the Monument to Monument ride, an annual ride from Baltimore’s Washington Monument to the better known monument by the same name in the center of the District of Columbia. While there may be better known century rides in the area (like the Seagull Century or the Civil War Century sponsored by the Baltimore Bicycling Club), Bob’s rides are elegant testaments to the simple joy of picking a place to visit and then figuring out how to get there by bike. Bob puts a lot of thought into the trips he plans and each ride has a purpose.

Another great biking blog that I follow is BikesNCoffee Bicycles Coffee and Miscellany written by Dave Hopkins. Since we tend to ride at the same speed, many of his posts recount our various misadventures from the perspective of the riders at the back of the pack. Dave writes thoughtfully and from the heart and one of his most inspiring posts is the goodbye he penned to his late father, “here’s to you dad. . .” Dave also designed our group’s cycling sweater and is the author of our unofficial motto: “more about the route less about the numbers.”

I love reading what Bob and Dave have to say and, if I’m honest, their writing inspires me to be a better cyclist, person and friend.

So why this blog? I guess it all starts with the fact that my daughter, a classics major at the University of Chicago, decided to travel to the coast of the Black Sea this summer to excavate and decipher pottery from Ancient Greece. This rather straight-forward study abroad opportunity led to an invitation to join her on a train trip across Europe on her way to the archeological site.

A close friend recently asked what I planned to do during the long train rides. Would I bring lots of books to read? Take time to visit the cities along the way? Well, inspired by Bob and Dave, writing this blog is what I have decided to do.

At the outset, I must recognize, thank and give credit to Mark Smith from the U.K., better known as The Man in Seat 61. . . for his wonderfully insightful and helpful blog post on How to Travel from London to Sofia and Bulgaria. . . He has literally shown me the way, step by step. Check back starting August 28th and you can follow how I do.

And to Mark, as a token of my appreciation, I extend an open offer of a place to stay should you and your family ever visit Baltimore. You will not find the train travel particularly inspiring in Baltimore but, with Dave and Bob’s help, I can show you a very unique way to travel to Washington, D.C. on two wheels.