Wednesday, October 15, 2008



We had a stack.

All 5 of us, both bikes (and a handful of jellybeans) splattered all over the road.

All had been going well with the Brissy to Gold Coast ride. We were about half way - I had been just about to announce the 50km mark to the girls. We'd had a great ride along the dedicated bus lanes out of the city - which had been closed off to buses for the bikes. Lovely smooooth road surface, and the only ups didn't even require the granny ring.

As we got further along, we then detoured onto the service roads that run alongside the motorway, and then some loops on back roads.

After stuffing around with loos, and refilling water at the previous rest stop, we found ourselves riding among slower (and less experienced) riders. You can tell them by the more erratic way they ride along the road. Should have known better. We came up behind a group, Marc was chatting to some guy beside him about the 29 inch wheels on his bike, and I was riding behind him. (We'd lost him in the mêlée of the start, so hadn't managed to actually do much drafting up till then.) We were humming along this flat country road at around 28kph... and I could tell Marc would shortly endeavour to find a way around this group of slower riders spread out across the road.

Suddenly it all went to hell. In a split second, the triple wobbled, then went down, because the girl in front of them - and we're talking right in the middle of the road here - hit the brakes HARD . Because her PEDAL FELL OFF! (We're talking el cheapo K-mart type bike here - probably never been serviced....) (What about coasting, calling out, "stopping"... that sort of thing? )

Marc had nowhere to go - she seemed to go left, so he tried to go right, but then she angled back in front of him. He clipped her wheel, and down they went.

And because I was riding his wheel I had nowhere to go. I could see it happening in front of me, but there was nothing I could do about it. I had barely enough time to register the shock of seeing them fall in front of me (because Marc is pretty competent at handling a bike.)

Then the awful realisation that I couldn't avoid them.

*Crash*....we went down. Bikes and bodies all over the road. Zoe sandwiched between the two bikes, as the tandem had landed on top of her... and crying that 'ow! owwww! owwwwwwwwwww!' cry that sends a mother's heart into panic.

Dazed, we scrambled up, hauled the bike off her, and limped with bikes to the edge of the road. I was concerned about Zoe, but vaguely noticed blood dripping down my left forearm from my elbow.

Marc was relatively unscathed, so he assumed first aider role - thankfully we were carrying our own first aid kit. Mothers patently make shocking patients when their kids are involved, because I kept telling him to look after each of the kids, when it turned out that I had the worst injury - a nasty gash on my elbow - which to him looked a bit drastic, though he decided not to enlighten me too much at the time. He got a wound dressing out, and bound it up. Cait had corked her hip/thigh, and struggled to walk, but didn't feel she'd broken anything. Zoe couldn't quite decide which of her legs hurt, but settled on a twisted ankle on one. All of us had various grazes and bruises already coming up. On my left leg, blood from gravel rash mixed with grease - and I'd also grazed a mole there. Errgh....

Plus a little bit of shock all round.

Official help was all but useless other than the moral support of the highway patrol motorbike cop. We figured we probably wouldn't need an ambulance, but were a bit nonplussed when one came along, and informed the cop that they only stop if they need to take anyone to hospital. Noone bothered to check us out themselves. (Even the cop was nonplussed about that...) Some riders, and a woman in a car, did stop, and she gave us some old towels, and pulled jackets out of our panniers to keep us a bit warm. Other than that, noone else had first aid stuff, and no gloves, so were unwilling to touch us because of the blood! All in all, we were pretty lucky Marc was ok to tend us all.

A bike mechanic guy also stopped, but Marc had all the gear we needed for that. The sag wagon was notified, and we knew it was on its way. While we hated the thought of not being able to finish the ride, none of us girls were in a fit condition to finish (Perhaps I would have been stupid enough to had I not had the girls to consider ... although my elbow was hurting enough to make me realise that steering a bike would be a bit difficult.) Our tandem would fit in the trailer on the sag wagon, but the triple would be pushing it - plus Marc is always antsy about it being scratched, not that it didn't now have a couple of dings in it. The pannier rack was skewed where we hit it...and he's yet to do a proper check on what else might be damaged on it. He had to tinker with the brakes to get it working ok when he decided to ride it on by himself to the next checkpoint and meet us there - at least another 20km or so.

The girls and I were finally deposited at the checkpoint by the sag wagon, and we headed for the first aiders. I asked them to look at the girls first - though Cait kept saying "Mum, you go first, you're worse!" 'I'm right, you girls first" , I said, but she pushed me into the seat before her. Then the girl took off the wound dressing Marc had put on my elbow, and said immediately "That'll need stitches" - while the girls gasped in horror at the sight of it. Kind of glad I couldn't see it myself.

Marc arrived, and we decided that the logical thing to do was for him to get a cab the nearest train station and head back to Southbank to collect the car. It was a long and tedious wait there at Coomera State School - just behind Dreamworld - and the girls were taunted with the sounds of the rides there (Their boring parents have been too tight and too obsessed with bloody bike riding to take them to the theme parks!)

During our wait, Alison and Zoe finally wandered off to the playground, which allayed many of my concerns about how injured they might have been. Cait was sore but stoic.

Marc got back and we got the bikes onto the car, and headed for the Gold Coast by car, still a bit shell shocked and basically spewing that we'd come all this way, invested money in petrol, accommodation, etc, and we weren't finishing the damn ride. Brought undone by an inexperienced rider on a crap bike, basically. We've tried to rationalise it as the risk you take participating in these mass rides... Mind you, it really did rub salt into the wounds to have to drive past the Finish point on the way to the hospital.

A lesson learned regarding riding amongst so many people. It made me wonder whether the mass rides are a good idea, but you do them to take advantage of road closures (and thus a certain degree of separation and protection from vehicles!)

I'd steeled myself for a potentially long wait at Emergency, but good fortune had a 24 hour medical centre just across the road from the hospital. I was seen there pretty much immediately. "Now I have to warn you that you will have a scar", said the doctor. "Not worried." I said. (My husband knows me well. When I told him the doc said that, he said 'You'd be cheesed off if you didn't get a scar out of this! At least you'll have something to show from the day. Battle scars. The rest of them won't.

So we are all healing, and the vivid replaying of the accident over and over in my head is abating. Marc, to his delight, discovered that he did get a couple of grazes after all. On his butt (and in his bum crack! - so he's a bit limited in the sympathy stakes..)

Today I can finally bend up my arm enough so as to be able to do my bra up by myself, so things are looking up. And of course my main worry was being able to ride this weekend in Melbourne, what with the air fares and accommodation booked for that. Heel of my left hand is a bit bruised, but I'll be ok on the back of the tandem. (I'll have to be!) Stitches supposed to come out on Sunday will have to be removed on Monday. Chiro appointment for Cait (and me) tomorrow. The younger two have already been back at netball and swimming, so they have come up ok.

Back on the bike, for me and Marc at least. I'm not too sure how the girls are going to feel about doing so - but as I've just ordered $450 worth of matching cycling jerseys for us all, they may not have a choice! We breed and raise 'em tough around here.


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You're doing the Around the Bay in a Day yeah? I'll see if I'm sober enough to come visit you at the finish line!

Ha! You ride almost right past my work.
I will admit that riding in a group scares me silly. I'd be the one who slammed on the brakes in panic and messed it up for some one.

Sorry to hear about the bumps bruises and blood!!! but glad they were sort of minor

I knew there was a reason I don't go out for big group rides (or another reason!)
Woah. Glad it wasn't any worse. *hugs*
ow. Ow. OWWWWWW!

(But I'm with you on the scar. I would have been pissed off not to have a badge of honour from that one too... As long as it's a relatively small one, of course. I'm not THAT brave.)
Hey did the jellybeans survive?

You will be disgusted to know that a car of drunks drove into bike riders in Melbourne (Round the Bay in a Day I think it was called) ON PURPOSE. Grrr.
Ouch!! Glad you are all ok! Funny how us mums are too busy taking care of everyone else to worry about ourselves! :)

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