Yesterday was a beautiful day for a club ride, temp in the 70s, intermittent breeze and not a cloud in the sky. Due to the elevation gain the rider leaders estimated a sub 14mph average pace but by the time we reached the rest stop we were averaging a 15mph+ pace. We had our coffee & snacks at the break and refilled water bottles before heading back out on the road. With everyone refueled we were making good time again, I’m #3 in line and everyone is in a nice single file line, probably averaging 18-20mph on this stretch of road. After about 5 miles we slow to turn right and ease up the pace a bit as the ride leader checks to make sure everyone made the turn. The “everyone is here” is called out and we are back on the pedals riding this false flat just about to reach the crest and head downhill.
And that is when I heard the most horrendous sound and then saw the ride leaders bike go airborne as the #2 rider swerved left. I went right and stopped quick (thank you Kool Stop!). As I was getting off the bike I could see our ride leader was down hard and called out for someone to call 911. Luckily, in our group we have a retired firefighter so he jumped into action and tended to the victim keeping him still while we waited for the ambulance. I jumped in and started doing traffic control, since that is what I do best, although at this moment I wished I had a marked vehicle all lit up as people were coming over that hill fast.
Local PD showed up on scene first and then the ambulance. By this time he had regained consciousness and was talking. They of course put a neck brace on and then placed him on the backboard before loading him into the bus and heading to the local hospital. At this point I’m not sure the extent of his injuries and am still waiting to hear his status.
According to the #2 person in line the ride leader was reaching back for a snack as we crested that hill. Right after the crest there was this huge whole that he didn’t see or couldn’t react to as he only had one hand on the bars and thus sent him flying.
We have all done it, ride with one hand, taken our eyes off the road to look at our computer, glance down at our cassette among other things. Now there is no blame to be placed here as this was a true accident and we all hope he recovers to ride again but this does serve as a reminder to stay focused on the road, look for hazards and try to keep both hands on the bars because at 20mph shit goes south fast. We all need to eat a drink on the bike at some point and need to take a hand off the bars to do so but I have always made it a point to never do it on a decent, especially one unfamiliar to me. Both hands are always on the hoods or in the drops and I have fingers on the brakes with some slack taken up.
Cycling is fun but we do need to be careful out there and ride smart.