They say there are two kinds of cyclists — those who’ve crashed, and those who have yet to crash. I’ve now joined the former.
Last Saturday, September 6, I was about six weeks into training. And it had gone pretty well. The gears and the shifting was getting more understandable. I was better able to make the distinction between some important concepts —
- The goal isn’t to go fast uphill. You should keep the same cadence, or rate of the pedals going around. They aren’t the same. I had been trying to power my way up the hills. Doesn’t work well.
- While going the same cadence is the goal, it’s not a realistic goal on really tough hills. You may be pedaling really slowly on the steepest hills. And that’s okay. You’re still going up.
Funny, when Lance Armstrong is going uphills, it looks differently. But I’m not quite Lance just yet.
So that Saturday, we had a 30 mile ride that had some pretty tough hills east of San Francisco, around San Pablo Dam near Orinda. They call the ride “The Three Bears.” The bears, as you might guess, were three pretty tough hills.
I did really well — I was learning the lessons above (the hard way at times), but I did make it up. The last one was the toughest — they call it “Papa Bear.” I did freak out a bit on the descent — very steep decent. I’m not a wild risk taker in a lot of ways, and speed I have to work up to. So I did it, but it was kinda freaky.
But the Crash! Bang! Boom! wasn’t on the Three Bears, or the descent.
Just as I had finished the last of the descent, and came upon the straightaway that went on about a quarter mile, the road curved and came to a small bridge over a creek. Right at the edge of the bridge was a fairly large pothole. I wasn’t nearly going as fast as I was on the descent on Papa Bear, but I was going fast enough to lose control after I hit it.
Apparently, I fell forward, crashed on the handlebar, and skidded a bit down the, uhm, concrete bridge. At a pretty good speed. Just to be clear, I wasn’t injured much at all — nothing broken, etc.
I was a little dazed at first. I was riding with a coach at the time, and he was TERRIFIC. He was really supportive, cleaned me up, got the SAG (Support and Gear) team vehicle to stop with a first aid kit. We got the bike into the truck and we went back to the start.
Here I am, at that moment (someone in Team in Training always seems to have a camera around, particularly for these kinds of moments). I didn’t look that bad. At that point, a really bad road rash scrape on the elbow (note the really dark circle on the bottom of the elbow) and on the knee.
And the bike wasn’t that badly hurt either — mainly just the handlebars. The frame is thought to be OK — it’s at the bike shop for a check.
So that was on Saturday. The coaches warned me the road rash scrapes would look and get worse over the next few days. And it did.
Here’s what the knee and elbow looked like by Wednesday:
Note particularly the bruises on the upper leg. The bike shorts covered that, so no road rash like the knee. Also, check out the yellow circle in the middle of the bruise. From what I can tell, that part of the thigh hit the rounded end of the handlebar right there as I went down. That area was depressed on my skin on Saturday after the accident, prior to the bruising.
Here’s another bruise that showed up a few days later, on my abdomen just below my navel:
This one I love. It looks like that large spot that you see in pictures of the planet Jupiter, the hurricane on the surface of the planet. I didn’t even feel it during the crash or after, and yet it showed up. I’ve been using it to show people, picking up my shirt and showing it off like LBJ did with his appendectomy scar (if you’re old enough to remember that).
None of the bruises ever hurt. The road rash, oh, that’s a different story.
The worst was at night. Even with it bandaged up, the road rash would tingle, itch and sting. It wasn’t terrible, but it would wake me up at night. I was reminded that the road rash is, well, where the concrete had scraped off a couple layers of skin, and nerve endings were exposed. So the tingling is normal and part of the healing process.
But compared to other options — broken bones, other internal injuries, I’ll take it.
The bike is in the shop for a week, and I’ve taken off a few days of training to heal up. I’ll be ready to start up after that.
This has been a very hard post to write. I’ve been putting it off.
While the last couple of seasons I’ve had a number of personal honorees I ran for, and still are a part of me and inspire me, I’m dedicating my training and my event to Travis.
I introduced Travis Wallace at this post. He was a nine-year survivor of leukemia and a fellow honoree for Team in Training. Travis had a tremendous spirit and zest for life. In the time since his last battle, he got married to a woman who I think is just terrific, Amy. Amy and Travis became very active in Team in Training. Not just as an honoree, but both of them became active participants, running in several marathons and half marathons. They also became mentors to other runners, and captains to help set up the program.
The picture below is my absolute favorite picture of Travis. It perfectly demonstrates his contributions to TNT and the people who he touched in it. Even though he was an honoree, it wasn’t about himself. It was about the cause, helping others understand the cause, and motivating them to make it through their events and succeed in their dreams. He touched hundreds of people in this program, just like this one instance captured forever in this photo.
If any of you ever wondered what makes Team in Training so special, this is it. People with gifts and talents helping others to meet their dreams, while helping to raise funds to help a worthy cause to find cures and make the lives of others better. Travis was one of those who people who made this happen.
Another is Travis’ wife, Amy. She was particularly helpful to me during my marathon last June in San Diego. It ended up being a very hot day, and I had a lot of difficulty with the heat and my water and sodium intake. I was basically sweating like a pig.
Amy ran with me for about 3 or 4 miles, giving me fluids and other refreshments, and just being there, encouraging, being very perky and friendly as she usual was. I really honestly wouldn’t have made it without her. I’ll always fondly remember her and another captain Carolyn who also ran with me that day.
I took a picture of both of Amy (on the left with the alien deely bobs) and Carolyn taken during the marathon:
Amy left just about after this pic was made because she wanted to finish with Travis, who was running a half marathon that day. He did well and finished.
Earlier this year, Travis and Amy gave birth to a beautiful daughter, McKenna.
A month after McKenna was born, about March, Travis found out he had relapsed.
He started treatment almost immediately. He went — for the third time in his 32 years of life — into the hospital and started chemotherapy. He found he would need a bone marrow transplant. He began a search and was able to find a suitable donor.
While in and out of the hospital, Travis spent time with McKenna. For his wedding anniversary, Travis took Amy on a very special trip. Here’s Amy’s words from her blog:
June 24th was our second wedding anniversary. We spent the night in Half Moon Bay at the Ritz where Travis proposed three years ago. It was awesome! We had massages, a great dinner, wine and champagne and an amazing time together, watching the sunset and walking on the beach. That’s the way to live!
On Thursday Trav chartered a helicopter and surprised me with a tour of San Francisco. We flew from the peninsula up through and around the city, under the Golden Gate bridge, down the coast and back up over the mountains. We even saw a whale off the coast of Half Moon Bay. It was amazing! My husband is incredibly romantic. Sorry ladies, he’s mine!
Here’s a pic of them on that special day:
A few days later in early July Travis went back into Stanford for his bone marrow transplant (BMT). He had to have more rounds of really harsh chemo to get ready for it. The BMT went well, and it was starting to take. But because of the harshness of the chemo Travis underwent, he developed both kidney and liver failure.
He struggled. But it was too much for him to overcome, even as young and strong as he was. He passed away on August 21.
In the last couple of years, Travis married a terrific beautiful person, ran marathons and helped others to run marathons, raised money and awareness of his struggles and the need for leukemia research, had a beautiful baby girl, and lived life to the fullest. If quality of life is the measure, Travis lived a great life.
A couple weeks before, I had contacted Amy to ask if I could train and ride in honor of Travis this season. I sent an email, and was afraid to take up too much of her time. This is what she wrote back:
We are absolutely honored and thankful to be a part of your training and help you with your fundraising. Please feel free to share with your friends, family and others, Travis’ story and website. Trav and I hope to ride along side of you in a century someday.
Well, Travis and Amy are riding with me this season. I’ve already on many occasions thought of Travis and Amy riding with me, encouraging me as Amy did in the marathon. They’ll be with me both during all the training and at the event.
The world is a little worse off without Travis here.
If you would like to see pictures of Travis and his family or read his story, please visit his caring bridge site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/traviswallace