As has become a routine this summer, I was out on the Central Lakes Bike Trail again last Thursday after work. The heavy rains mentioned in a previous post had raised the water levels in the Garfield area to a height where they were posing issues for some homes, roads and businesses. Thus, local officials had decided to pump out the water to an area about 3 miles away that could better handle the additional saturation. As the water transfer was in progress there were two large pumping trucks right along the trail in Garfield and two 8 to 10 inch hoses snaked parallel along the side of the trail to the point where they veered off and emptied into a pond. As I wheeled on down the trail, I noted that this evening the hoses were flattened out and it appeared the pumping was concluded. Some engines were running but no activity appeared to be going on.
I had biked on west of Evansville, about 20 miles out, then started my return. Two brief stops were made on the return between Evansville and Brandon to take some shots of blooming summer plants that I had noted on the ride out. Then, I was back on the bike and heading for home. It was a good ride. The temp was in the 80’s but the wind was light and the humidity was bearable.
It was about 6:45 pm as I passed by Garfield and the pumping engines. The trail heading southeast back towards Alexandria takes a gentle downhill grade and then winds between some small lakes. I was anxious to get back for a quick shower and time to catch the last few minutes of my grand-daughters ball game, so I was taking advantage of the grade and the breeze that was now at my back. The trail takes a gradual left as the trail flattens again and then flows through a flat area with heavy woods and undergrowth on either side before it takes another gradual curve to the right. I had just entered the second curve and glanced down to see 23 mph on the read out. My body was stretched over the bike frame with my hands gripping the aero bars as the sound of an engine came from down below and to my right as I neared where the point where the huge hoses veered off toward the pond. And then something went terribly wrong. I felt the bike flip forward underneath me and then there was a “BOOM” on my head, shoulders and back followed a split second later by the sound of metal crashing into pavement. As my body came to a stop on the pavement, I was sitting on my rear, knees up and my forearms resting on my thighs as I peered down the trail, just as I had been only a second or two before. About 30 feet down the trail, the bike continued its upside down skid before tumbling to a rest at the side of the trail. I was dazed and the wind was knocked out of me. After what seemed like a few seconds of trying to figure out what had happened, I turned back and saw a cable, about 12 to 18 inches off the ground. It was stretched from a tree on one side of the trail and extended tightly across the trail and over the embankment toward the pond below. The worker was apparently trying to move something up from the ditch and thought it could be done before “the next” rider passed by. For now, that’s enough of the how and the why.
I mention all of this to make a point. You wear a helmet not only for those periods of distraction or some stupid thing you might do while riding. You wear it because of the unknown actions that others around you, seen and unseen, may do. As it turns out, I was lucky. I wore a helmet even though I had only the day before been questioning why I wore this thing. As you can see from the scratched and cracked helmet and the impression from the foam shell embedded on my head, that foam pot likely saved my life. At the least, it prevented a far more serious injury as well as a lengthy period of hospitalization and recovery. No broken bones were noted on the initial set of x-rays. Several bruises, contusions, scrapes and aching muscles are still present along with a lingering headache. But because I wore a helmet, I’m here writing this post. Think about this experience the next time you are heading out for a ride and are considering not wearing your helmet. Thank you for reading my blog and I’m happy to say, have a great day.