Our car trip went well, if a bit long winded. Got tired of riding in the car somewhere in Missouri, which is usual. Decided drivers' education must not be mandatory in Missouri.
Anyway, yesterday Mandy and I rode from Stanton (KY) to Whittleton Campground at Natural Bridge State Park where my family was camping. Mandy's parents had loaned us bikes and it was very enjoyable to be riding here again. There were so many things I had forgotten that makes riding in this area fantastic.
First, the roads are in fine condition, with very little of the freeze-thaw destruction we're used to in the high plains. Despite being from an economically depressed region, the roads are smooth and enjoyable.
Now, I had secretly dreaded riding here again because of the lack of shoulders, but what I quickly rediscovered was that regardless of the lack of cycling infrastructure, either steeped in necessity or a different attitude in the drivers themselves, most people either gave us more room, slowed down to pass or did both.
Even though we were tangled up in holiday traffic on narrow, curvy roads I actually started to feel pretty safe as we pedaled along. Heck, we were waving and smiling at most people passing us as we rode.
We visited with my family for a little while and then decided it was time to ride back. The main difference was about fifteen degrees of warmth. The sun beat down as we fought to create a cooling wind. A few shady stretches of road were welcomed relief, but for the most part the sun beat down on our tired bodies.
When we returned to Mandy's parents' house her dad, a Pavement's Edge reader, asked if I'd like to go for a ride. Feeling the surplus of oxygen in my blood I decided I could manage "a few easy miles" after I'd rehydrated and cooled off a little bit. Our trip to the campground and back had been just over 30 miles and I felt fine. I was thinking we'd do a five or ten mile ride and then I could relax. Well...
Tom suggested a couple of options and I chose an out and back ride to Spaas Creek. I'd always liked riding along North Fork and it seemed like it would be less busy than the holiday traffic thronged highway 11/15. We headed out, me on Tom's bike and he on Mandy's mom's baby, a Giant OCR1.
We cruised out of town and very shortly were rolling out into the farmland east of town. It was a nice ride with some shady sections and very low traffic. It was nice to have someone to ride with and we talked cycling and local stuff while we rode along easily, taking in the fine weather and the scenery.
As we rounded the bend and approached the intersection of State Highway 615 (North Bend Road) and State Highway 599 (Cane Creek Road) disaster struck.
Tom was cruising down an easy grade, hands at his sides as he sat upright in the saddle, in the center of the unlined pavement as we were chatting back and forth. I saw the gaping pothole and assumed he did as well, but when he turned to look over his shoulder as he made a comment I realized (too late) that he didn't see it.
He hit the ragged pavement, head turned, hands at his side coasting at 15-18 mph. I had no chance to say anything as he slammed bodily into the pavement. He didn't make a sound, and I feared he had knocked himself out. Luckily I was riding to the right and he sort of fell to the left or I would have plowed right into him.
By the time I slewed to a stop and turned back he was dragging himself to his feet and groaning: "She's going to kill me!"
Tom was going over every inch of the bike as I was trying to assess his injuries. He kept saying he was fine, but his left elbow was a mess of blood and jumbled skin. He had a core sample taken from the tip of his left index finger, there was a less serious patch of road rash on his leg and he was moving around too much for me to take in anything more.
I urged him out of the road so we could better look at him and the bike. The bike was fine except for some deep scratched on the fronts of the shift levers and Tom hadn't seemed to have broken anything, though the road rash on his elbow worried me.
We headed on down the road toward Spaas Creek. Tom knew a couple that lived a mile or so further and the wife was a retired nurse. So we pedaled easy to their house where Rita expertly cleaned and dressed his elbow wound and gave us a couple of cold beverages in the cool of the house.
After thanking Rita and Jack we continued on for Spaas Creek. Amazingly Tom was fine to go on and he rode well the rest of the trip. After seeing him go down so hard I was just happy to see him mobile.
When we had finally returned to their house I had ridden about 60 miles, putting me at 512 for the month of May.
Tom was fine, but really stiff and sore this morning. He managed a hike up to Natural Bridge before the family cookout and was in great spirits as usual. I'm thankful he didn't get hurt worse and glad we had a good ride despite the crash.
Gonna strike out and do something tomorrow so May 2011 will be my biggest monthly mileage ever.