A big thanks to my real-time and BlogSpot friend Lourdes for inviting along on what was likely the last of her hill repeat rides Wednesday night. I was running a little late on laundry (hey, sometimes life calls :D) so took a shortcut to the start, but got there early and decided to ride back towards the rest of the group rather than sit and wait.
Me, Lourdes and Kevin, taking a break to catch our breath moments before her scary fall
I met Kevin and Chris about half way in their direction, turned around and rode to the base of the Pennsylvania hill with them. The rest of the group was not far behind. It was really nice seeing my buds and budettes again. I did have one little twitch in my calf getting there, where the muscle fiber seemed to tear loose from the collagen "scaffolding", kind of a sick feeling, but getting used to it now. No harm, no foul. It seems to be part of the healing process.
I did the first 3 hill repeats without a break, catching and passing the early group with the tight rotation, and getting my HR up there steadily as the extra effort and minimal recovery time kicked in. I took a long break before heading up for repeat #4 to catch my breath, and found it hard to stay in the saddle at the short 15% grade section. My calf felt weak standing too, but I could tell my cardio wasn't up to par and that seemed to be a bigger limitation than my calf.
We headed up the hill on what was #5 for me, regrouped at the top, and took some pictures. (I had brought my camera and then forgot all about it, so thanks to Lourdes and Fred for the pics) before heading back down in a loose group.
I got through all the gears, shifting from low gears to high, slowed for the small cross street, and looked around the curve for other riders. Intending to pass a couple of riders (I go downhills like a rocket sled) I was about abreast of them when I looked up and saw two drivers stopped, talking to each other, blocking the entire road - except for the 4 ft or so between.
I didn't know exactly where my riding partners were at that instant, but was pretty sure slamming on the brakes would have them piling into me, so I hit the brakes as hard as I could, pushed my weight back, and squirted between the two parked cars.
I heard a scream and then a bike crash into the road, and as I feared, my friend Lourdes had crashed hard. We were almost abreast when I'd first spotted the cars, and assumed she had realized a split second too late that going down a 8-10% grade there wasn't enough room to stop. As I turned around and came back up the hill I was relieved to see her sitting up, conscious and apparently, lucid.
She seems to have locked her front wheel and high-sided right over the handlebars. I think she was really lucky, but happily so. A steep downslope can often blunt the effects of such a fall as the road drops away from under the rider. In any case, one of the new riders, Andy, and I did some wrenching on Lourdes bike while Kevin and Sharel took care of her. We rode gingerly to the bottom of the hill, regrouped with the rest of the riders, and headed home.
Lourdes immediately started to complain of shoulder pain, and that was worrisome, but after a thorough exam from her chiropractor this morning she reported only bruising and road rash. Whew... that was a close one, and more than a bit scary.
I wanted to hammer a bit on the ride home, and soon found myself well ahead of the pack, with Andy on my wheel or next to me. We had a nice chat and I found out he's almost my neighbor. We waited up for the rest of the group at William Pond Pk, said our good-byes and then rode home together - except for the last few blocks. About 22 miles and 2,000 ft on the Garmin.
We've had a rash of crashes now in the last 2 weeks, and it reminded me that statistically you are about 15X as likely to have an accident after daylight savings time ends than after it begins. I'm going riding again tomorrow, a nice slow 31 miler with many of the same riders, and will remind myself to slow down on the hills a little. Mostly though, it was nice to be able to ride with my friends and not have to beg off or quit early. Having just gotten through a long rehab, I am not wanting to repeat the experience anytime soon.
It's so pretty out there with the fall foliage and crisp air, I want to enjoy it.