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Saturday, July 29, 2006

A costly ride with Ditty Bops

This morning, I had the pleasure of riding with the Ditty Bops, Amanda Barrett and Abby DeWald, from the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge to Edwardsville, Ill. What came afterward wasn't so pleasant, but let's stick with the pleasant part first.

I parked on the Illinois side of the bridge and dodged a bunch of runners on the bridge to get over to the St. Louis side to meet Amanda and Abby. I immediately recognized them from the numerous photos I've seen of them the past few weeks while reading their journal of the 2006 Bicycle Tour.

I apologized for not making it to the show Friday night at the Mad Art Gallery in St. Louis because of work commitments, and Abby wondered how I found out where they were going to meet

"I have my sources," I told Abby. Then I revealed my sources. Paul MacFarlane of the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation had talked to their tour manager, Greg Rutlidge, about their depature plans and relayed the information to me.

As they crossed the bridge and entered Chouteau Island, they both seemed surprised when I told them they were already in Illinois. As we rode on the Confluence Trail, I showed them where the Missouri River flows into the Mississippi River. They seemed moderately impressed with that, especially since they've spent so much time along the Missouri while riding the Katy Trail last week.

I told Amanda how impressed I was that they were able to take the time to do a cross-country trip. I briefly talked about my weeklong adventures in various states. "That's a good way to see the country," she said.

I would love to spend more time riding with them. Both Amanda and Abby are outgoing and friendly and made me feel welcome. While they're strong riders, they don't take cycling too seriously. Both of them have streamers hanging from their handle bars! Pretty cool!

I started out strong, but I wilted on the New Poag Road hill leading out of the Mississippi River valley near the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus. That's normally a hill I have no problem with, but the heat and humidity -- combined with a lack of sleep the previous evening -- meant I had problems this time. I had hoped to ride with them as far as Hamel, but I knew I would have to turn back when we arrived in Edwardsville if I were to get home in time to go to work.

We parted company at a convenience store in Edwardsville, and my ride went downhill from there. I never made it to work Saturday afternoon.

While riding back on New Poag Road, I managed to hit a block of wood that had fallen on the shoulder for the road. The next thing I knew, I landed face first on the pavement. I never lost consciousness, but blood was dripping on the pavement. It was all too similar to the fall I suffered during the 1997 West Shoreline Tour in Michigan, but at least no one else besides me was injured.

Fortunately for me, several people saw me fall and stopped to help. At least two of them happened to be EMTs, and they helped stabilize me until Edwardsville's paramedics arrived on the scene. They loaded me on an ambulance and took me to Anderson Hospital in Maryville. They left my bike hidden in a farm field near a fire hydrant.

I spent seven hours at Anderson Hospital undergoing tests and waiting for doctors to analyze the tests. Fortunately, nothing was broken, and I ended up getting a bunch of stiches near my left eye.

By the way, Bubba, they did a CT scan of my head and found nothing there.

All in all, it was a ride I will remember, both for good reasons (the Ditty Bops) and bad reasons (the fall). A big special thanks go to the EMTs who stopped to help me and to Cheryl Eaton, the Belleville News-Democrat's Madison County bureau chief, who picked me up at the hospital and took me back to my car, which was still parked near the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.

If you want photographic evidence I spent time with the Ditty Bops, check out the account of Saturday's ride. This is the last picture taken of me with my lime green cycling jersey, which was torn by the paramedics treating me and was well-soaked with my blood because of the accident.


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Roger 2 comments links to this post 9:31 PM

Oooh, you got to ride with the Ditty Bops!

Man, too bad about the crash! GLad you're okay (relatively). I spent the day riding up and down and up and down bumpy mountain roads. I couldn't really open it up but had to keep my speed down because I was literally going airborne from some of the bumps -- that's pretty exciting at 40 mph going around a curve!
glad you are okay....

doo much day dreaming about the Ditty Bop calendar!

the heat can be cruel
take it easy as it is not getting any cooler
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