Posted by: Travis | June 19, 2011

One Lucky S.O.B.

Yesterday was pretty…uh…interesting.

Shortly after we found out that we’d be leaving California, Rachel promised that before we left she would ride Mt. Hamilton with me one last time. Mt. Hamilton is a climb east of San Jose that is 18 miles long and climbs 4200 feet. It’s not super steep, but the length makes it a doozy. We did it on New Years Day in 2008, but that was 3 years ago, and things have changed a lot in the last 3 years, so we wanted to take one more swing at it.

We met up with our friends Jeremy and Steve in Menlo Park yesterday morning and drove down to San Jose with the plan to return to a big farewell BBQ with a bunch of other non-bike-riding friends.

For the climb up Hamilton we kept things pretty mellow and stayed together most of the way up. In the last few miles Steve and i found ourselves with a bit of a gap. He pushed on and i held back for Rach and Jer. At one point i was at the top of a switchback and saw them quite a ways down the road, so i opted to push up to the top on my own, then ride back down and finish the last of the climb with Rach and Jer. I summited at the observatory and then turned around and started descending back down to meet Rach and Jer.

I was coming around an off-camber, hair pin turn when i hit a patch of gravel or a rut in the road and my rear wheel slid out. I put the bike down and slid 10-15 feet across the road on my hip. Rachel was climbing up to the turn and saw the whole thing. I quickly realized that i was sitting in the middle of the road on a blind corner, so i had better get the hell out of the road. I jumped up and scurried out of the road over to the guard rail. I was assessing the damage to my body and my bike, thinking about how funny it was going to be to finish the ride in my tattered bike shorts, and going through a little play by play with Rachel when i started to get very dizzy as my body went into shock. While standing up talking, i passed out, collapsed, and hit my (helmet covered) head on the guard rail on my way down and started snoring. Rachel immediately freaked out and called 911 while frantically trying to wake me up. Though we had no cell phone service at any point in the ride before or after the wreck, somehow, she had full service before dialing 911.

Once they got word that there was a loss of consciousness on Mount Hamilton (there is literally nothing in the 20 miles between where we were and San Jose) they called in a helicopter. The fire crew from a fire station at the base of the mountain were the first on the scene. By the time they arrived i was sitting on the side of the road, conscious, and feeling okay. It was clear the the helicopter was going to be overkill, but once the helicopter is called, it can’t be called off. Since i lost consciousness, they decided to play it safe and put my in a neck stabilizing collar and on a backboard.

On the backboard, just to be safe.

The chopper showed up and they loaded me into an ambulance to get me down to where the chopper landed. It was clear that i was going to be okay at this point, but since the helicopter was already there, they wouldn’t let me decline the flight into San Jose. The 8-10 minute flight to the hospital would have been a lot more fun if i weren’t strapped to a back board, but whatever.

Get to the chopper!

Rachel and our bikes got a ride down to the bottom of the mountain in the fire truck. The fire fighters were having a pretty boring day, so once they realized i was okay, they went straight into having fun mode. They let Rachel wear a headset in the truck and listen into the radio. They even pulled over and asked if she had a camera phone to get some pictures of me taking off in the helicopter.

Rachel's view from the firetruck

I got to the ER and the nurses there quickly realized that i was just fine. We did a CT scan just to be safe, and it came up clear. I was discharged only about 2 hours after arriving by helicopter, but i couldn’t leave because Rachel had not yet arrived with a change of clothes. They cut off my bib shorts since they were already ruined (i was able to save the jersey and base layer i was wearing), so i had nothing to wear from the waist down.

After Rachel came back to get me, we went back to Steve and Brielle’s place and took part in the BBQ as planned.

All in all, i was ridiculously lucky. I escaped from the crash with some road rash on my hip and arm, but otherwise no injuries.

Road rash on my arm

Road rash on my hip

Closeup of hip road rash

The new Moots escaped relatively unscathed too. The right shift lever got a little scratched up, the bar tape and rear tire got scuffed, and the rear wheel came just a touch out of true. Other than that, there is absolutely no damage to the frame or any of the other components.

Scratched shifters, just about the only damage to the bike

Had i not put the bike down i likely would have gone into and over the guard rail, in which case we wouldn’t be laughing about it. Like i said, i’m one lucky SOB.


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