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.
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.