Those of you who follow me on facebook already know what an exciting day we had on Saturday. It's due to that excitement (and the ensuing busyness of the weekend) that it is only now, Tuesday, that I am able to sit down and write it up, hoping I can do it justice.
The short version: we rode in the rolling hills of Warm Springs (and through Pine Mountain). There was an accident. I rode in an ambulance. All survived.
The longer version:
It was a perfectly cool start to the morning. I had never been to the Warm Springs ride before, because of travel (Andrew and Ronnell's wedding) and injury (I wrenched my back the morning of the ride). I had heard about a hill, "The Wall", but otherwise was looking forward to the ride. We started out pretty lively, and made good time into the first SAG stop of the day, around mile 18. That gave us time to loosen the legs on an easy stretch (rolling and fast, with only one tour coach coming within 3 feet of me) before putting in another 8 miles to get to the hill. I noticed a lot of marks for the Wilson100, and recognized some of the areas we had ridden through on that ride. The TNT SAG stop had actually been located just before The Wall, but the Wilson route took us in the opposite direction of it. The Wall is a Category 4 climb, 400' over 1.5 miles. No switchbacks, just a straight-on climb. The best part about it is that you can see the top, so you know exactly how much further you need to go. J was there, taking pictures of everyone as they got to him, but he was an artificial summit: there was still a way to go. I stopped just beyond him to cheer the rest of my group up. A quick regroup at the Best Western (undergoing renovation because of severe tornado damage last year), and we were off into Pine Mountain.
There was a bit more climbing, but it was more rolling (check out the ride's profile on Strava). After the second SAG, though, it was surprisingly technical descent for two miles, and back onto the fast, easy terrain. It was shortly after the descent that I turned to H, whom I had been riding with most of the day, and said "Can you believe we've been on the bike for 2 hours and 45 minutes? It doesn't feel like that at all." She agreed: it had been, thus far, a comfortable and fast ride.
Then we found ourselves on the beautifully new tarmac on Stovall Rd. We had a pretty large group of people, which was just damn resistant to getting a paceline together. H was falling off the back, so mentor A and I talked -- he agreed to wrangle the herd up front, and I (and V) would ride back with H to keep her going. Then, not long after that, H -- who had been riding close to the edge -- clipped the lip of the new pavement and went down hard. A kind couple stopped their truck not long after, providing towels to prop H's head, paper towels to dress the gash over her eye, and (most importantly), shade under their large umbrella while we waited for our SAG driver and the ambulance to arrive.
H is fine, but that was the end of her ride, and mine, for the day. I rode the ambulance with her to the hospital, at which point I started making brilliantly sarcastic comments to her, which lasted for the duration of the next 5 hours she was stuck with me, as we waited for radiology results, stitches, and collected her car and took her to some friends'.
So, a very exciting day. The ride itself, as I said, was comfortable, fast, and enjoyable. We stopped just about a quarter mile short of the last SAG stop, and looking at the map, we were very close to the end - maybe another hour of riding, tops. H can do this, if she can get on the bike again.
This ride reinforces two key things:
1. Wear a helmet, and wear it appropriately. The gash she received was a helmet injury (the styrofoam over the forehead strap gave way, and the impact of the ground->helmet->forehead strap->forehead is what cut her. This is preferable to ground->forehead, which would have been disastrously worse.
2. Carry ID and insurance information on you. I'm not a shill for www.roadid.com, but they are a great company. H never lost consciousness, but she was definitely confused and couldn't tell us where some of her things were, and couldn't tell us anyone we could contact. AND SHE WAS AWAKE. If something like this happens while you're on your own, or if you do lose consciousness, without that information on your person or bike, responses and information are slowed down.
Stats (I hadn't even looked at the cycle computer since Saturday... these are off because the bike has been walked a few times):
Maximum speed: 34.1 mph
Average speed: 14.7 mph
Distance: 52.40 mi
Route details and map can be found here.