Saturday, February 20, 2016

Vulture Mine 300km Brevet

Ride Report
February 6, 2016
Carlton van Leuven gives the rider brief
About 30 riders assembled in the Desert Ridge Albertson's parking lot for the 7 am start of this year's Vulture Mine 300km Brevet. This is the second event of the 2016 Arizona Brevet season and would be an unsupported ride. That means our Regional Brevet Administrator Carlton van Leuven, would organize the event, provide the briefing, and then join the peloton for the ride.

Like the 200km Brevet last month, many of the usual suspects attended. It was especially exciting to see Stephen Kinney, without his merry band of fast men, and Paul and Jennifer Danhaus all the way from Wisconsin on a sweet tandem. Perhaps it would be a sensible pace after all.
Your Correspondent and Michael Mooney at the start
We rolled out and quickly a group of about 10 riders formed and we settled into a fast but very reasonable pace. The sun was still not up and temperatures were in the high 30's, but without a cloud in the sky, we were looking forward to perfect Arizona conditions.
A nice group forms
We were clipping along with a slight tailwind and had ample opportunities to chat and catch up. We hit lots of traffic lights, but that allowed to group to reshuffle often and say hello to everyone. We arrived pretty much together at the first control.
Waiting for the light to exit Control 2 in Youngtown
After a quick reload of bottles, and removal of a layer or two we were on the 35 mile run to Wickenburg. About 13 miles into this stage, my rear tire started to feel a little mushy. With a great group moving together into a cross-wind, this was not welcome news. I hoped it would hold at least until Wickenburg. About a mile later it was flat and I had to pull out of the pace line.

Carlton saw me pull out and stopped to help. Up the road, Stephen Kinney and Mike Sturgill also pulled out and waited. The change took about 8 minutes, and we rejoined Stephen and Mike and formed a 4 man team. With Stephen and Mike taking monster pulls we were making great time, when my light decided to vibrate loose and head across the pavement. I dropped back, retrieved it and with the group easing off the pace and Stephen dropping back to bridge me up, we chased back on with the group with about 12 miles to Wickenburg.

We selected the first Shell station with a large store as our control in Wickenburg. Again with a quick reload, we were back on the road in under 10 minutes.

There is a gentle mile climb leaving Wickenburg. With Stephen and Mike setting the pace, Carlton and I were yo-yo'ing off the back. By the time we reached the summit 69 miles in to the ride, it was just me hanging on to Mike and Stephen's wheel.
Just clearing the 'summit' on Vulture Mine Road
Happy that I was able to hang on over the top, and with Mike in the lead we were on the long gentle grade that would end 35 miles later in Tonopah and Control 4.

Mike took a long pull up front and we were cruising along in just under 30 miles per hour for the first 5 miles after the summit. The grade eased off, Stephen took the front, but we were still moving along at a perfect pace. I was thinking about dropping off to wait for Carlton but figured we would all regroup at the next control.

Stephen was riding perfectly up front, with a steady 20-22 mph pace and like he was on a rail. A moment of inattention on my part, and my front wheel touched Stephen's rear wheel causing my weight to shift to the right. I steered into his wheel and recovered my balance, but my forward momentum now had me pointed toward the shoulder and off the pavement.

A couple of bumps, and then it felt like someone grabbed the bike from underneath me as it suddenly yanked down and right. The next thing I see is my yellow cycling shoes silhouetted against a perfectly blue Arizona sky, then bang, tumble and a cloud of dust before I came to rest on my right side.

I was on the shoulder and off the pavement, so I had a chance to do a quick self assessment, and determined my ride was over. My left clavicle was broken and my my ribs were popping with each breath. Stephen and Mike stopped immediately and a number of other riders and motorists stopped to render aide and make sure I was OK.

Carlton arrived minutes after I hit the dirt and abandoned his ride to look after me, coordinate with the EMTs, contact Debby, and attend to my bike (which was undamaged!).

They called 911 and after many fits and starts the ambulance arrived and about 40 minutes after the crash I was on my way to the Abrazo West Campus Hospital in Goodyear AZ.

Into the Ambulance
Waiting at the Abrazo Medical Center in Goodyear

After a few x-rays I was discharged with displaced fracture of the left clavicle and a note that the surrounding tissue was otherwise normal. The doctor also noted that I 'may have some broken ribs,' but she was not concerned about them.

I arrived home Saturday night with a puny Percocet prescription (5/mg per 6 Hours) and slept in one of the recliners. By comparison, when I was discharged from Scottsdale Osborn, a week later, my pain prescription was notably stronger (10/mg per 4 hours).

Sunday morning I was in extreme pain and could not breathe properly. Debby contacted my back Doctor and he told me to go to the ER at Scottsdale Osborne immediately. They performed a trauma CT scan and came back with much more thorough diagnosis that included a traumatic pneumothorax, and 7 rib fractures (some displaced by up to one shaft length) in addition to the previously diagnosed displaced clavicle.

The Trauma team inserted a chest tube and I was admitted within 30 minutes of my arrival. That was Sunday morning and I would not be discharged until late the following Friday night. To say the difference in care between Abrazo West and Scottsdale Osborne was like 'night and day' would be the understatement of the year!

The clavicle was repaired on Monday morning and it was determined all but one of the rib fractures were too close to the spine to be eligible for 'rib plating', and it was not worth the risk of an additional surgery for one rib. They would have to heal the old fashioned way!

Repaired Clavicle
Each morning I was greeted/awoken by an X-ray team that would monitor the recovery of my collapsed lung. The chest tube was removed Friday morning, and after the follow-up x-ray 6 hours later indicated no change, I was issued my walking papers and discharged from the hospital.

Mindy Richardson, friend and neighbor, works at Scottsdale and stopped by often to check in on me! Many other friends visited me during my stay and my room quickly filled with cards and flowers. I was also blessed to have our Pastor from St. Timothy, Fr. Charlie stop by to provide encouragement and the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Upon discharge and still not up to getting to Mass Sunday morning, Fr. Ramirez came to our home to hear my Confession and celebrate Holy Mass.

Lots of support and proper care make for a fast recovery
Three things come to mind:

1. The camaraderie and friendship among randonneurs is unparalleled to any other sport I have participated in. In addition to the concern and assistance on the side of the road, I received many visits, notes, and messages from my fellow randonneurs during my hospital stay and after.

2. I am blessed with an awesome wife, family, friends, and co-workers. With Debby at my side throughout, and a steady outpouring of love and encouragement I am well on my way to recovery.

3. I am going to need a new helmet!

ALWAYS wear your helmet!
Steve Atkins

GPS Data: