Big winds, big wipe.

This was supposed to be today's highlight of the ride...

48mi. What a way to start the year on wheels… I had been out ’til about 12:30am last night, did the long run yesterday, so I was tired going to the meetup at Marcinski Road. Apparently the cycling group is onto the  idea that a start point without reliable restrooms is beat! Loggerhead has been outta commission for months, so the riders now have adopted “the bunker” as the starting place. When I got there, Erica was arriving, Marty pulled in, a few others got there and ready, but it was slow going collecting all the riders.  One guy was sorting through jersey options in the back of his SUV, others gave him grief about that. Suzanne arrived, looked around and said, “I don’t know about five of these guys.” Erica also said something similar – I remember from their crash at the New Year that Suzanne had similar feelings and concerns.  I thought about this in the parking lot before we left, but not really during the ride.

The idea was to go to Sandsprit Park, a 50 mi ride.  I wasn’t committed to going fast, and neither was Suzanne, which was fine for me. There was a powerful breeze from the south, meaning our ride there would be nice and wind-aided, and coming back we would need to be in a great paceline to bite back into the wind. At first, I was content cruising in the middle, some riders dropped back, leaving me pretty close to the front.  A group of maybe 8 riders broke off and went ahead, I was with maybe 12 others in a second group. I pulled some with the wind, from before the fork in the road on “the Island” to the Tequesta Beach park.  There we met up again with the breakaway group.  It was less than a 60 second rest, then back on it over the Intracoastal and up Gomez Road.  I was in the very front this time, with three other guys.  Their pace was around 23mph on Gomez. When we made the left/right/left and put ourselves over the tracks near Peck’s Lake park, they really started increasing the pace. Again, I didn’t want to go too fast, I was tired and knew I’d have to save some for the windy way back. (I find it’s somewhat compelling to stay with whoever you’re following though, you just stick near them by habit.)  They had our group at 28, 29, then the next time I looked down, we were going 32mph. With the wind, but still fast enough to where I didn’t want to check the speed anymore, thinking I could loose concentration and cause a wreck. I didn’t want to get dropped by these guys, either, fearing I’d have to keep near their pace all myself… it’s easier to stay on a wheel.  We crossed the tracks onto Dixie Hwy and others came up from behind and sprinted to the front. On this section of road and through the little town of Port Salerno, things got mixed up to where another guy with chrome Oakley Radars and myself were leading, but everyone else kinda stopped going that fast.  Then were turned onto the lead-in road for the park with 1 mile to go – and I was the sole leader, with the closest followers 100 yards back and not looking to stay with me. Michelle, Steve Bernstein’s fiancee passed me, then some others did, too, and we entered the park and took a short break.  I thought my self engineered picture with Suzanne was going to be the highlight of the ride. Nope!

Once we started up again, weird things started happening. A red pickup truck followed our group, got up next to Erica, blew his horn, then stopped to let our whole group pass him. Our group did pass him, but then our leaders slowed, so now he was behind most of our crew except for me, Suzanne and maybe two others.  This went on for over half a mile.  He eventually passed us and we made the left onto Dixie highway, which was more crowded than I’ve seen it before that early on a Sunday morning. We grouped all as one again, and made way south into a wind stronger than we started the day with.  I had heard Marty say windspeed was going to increase as the day progressed, he was right!  We had to stop & clip out as a group 3 times going through Port Salerno, that’s more than ever before.  Once we passed the Cove Rd (final) traffic circle, we were as a group and single file into the wind.  I was behind Erica and following a respectful distance but still getting some draft.  The wind was tough on this open tree-less stretch of road.  Maybe 3/4 of a mile ahead, Erica slowed ’cause she had noticed the leaders slow, I tapped my very efficient rear brakes, which didn’t make a noise or a skid, but  slowed my rear wheel for a revolution I think. Others behind me adjusted speed, too. Only moments later, this is when I heard the yelps and the clanking metal of the crash. Looking back, someone had fallen, others were crashing into that person, and people were yelling. Those in front of me may have seen some of it, I made sure I spoke out and said a quick, “Hold on, riders down” which got Erica and Paul to see what was unfolding. At first, I though my braking might have caused someone to hit me, even though I didn’t feel anything and there was no one falling close to me.  Thankfully this wasn’t accurate.  I turned around, and now others were getting off their bikes and helping those in the street and on the grass shoulder. A few cars stopped and offered help or use of a phone, but we waved them on. It looked like four riders were on the floor, Michelle, Amy, a guy with a neon colored long sleeve shirt, and another guy.  The two girls were hurt the worst, Amy said her shoulder was tight and in pain, Michelle curled up on the grass and Steve spoke to her softly and too low for me to hear what he was saying. My first look at Amy’s shoulder told me a collarbone was broken, I couldn’t see her clavicle on that side and some skin was hard pinched in that area of her shoulder.  OUCH! Michelle had a cracked helmet, scrapes, but no bone problems, she just seemed really gripped with fear.  Her hands were in a semi closed claw position as she lay there assessing her pain.  She stretched and slowly walked around, Amy chose to have an ambulance called, she could not continue to ride.  Phone calls were made, an ambulance and fire truck showed up, and arrangements to get the injured bikes home were planned.  The rest of us started back towards home.  A group of 6 led us southward, but it was tough to stay with them, I really didn’t look to go that fast in that wind.  So I hovered for  small bit and caught Suzanne.  We rode all the way back together.  Some of this was side by side talking, or we took turns leading and following when cars came.  The wind made us reduce speed to 18mph, then 17, next time I looked I was pulling and going 14mph!  When we got just past Blowing Rocks Preserve, I saw my speed at 13-14-15mph.  We got stuck at the Jupiter Island drawbridge, then slowly made it back to the start point.  Once I saw my speed at 12 mph, and it was as I was pedaling well!  Who wants to go 12mph I thought?  I felt tired and tight in the upper thighs from pressing against the wind for  20 miles… I didn’t plan on that as my Sunday workout.  It wasn’t a problem, though, thankfully I wasn’t injured in a crash – speaking of things I didn’t plan!  May this be the only ride this year where people scrape the pavement… I was relieved that Chiara was there and Charlotte didn’t see it or the after-effects.  I’ve seen many collarbone snaps at Woodward and in BMX – that’s a  painful one even to see.  I hope Amy gets “set” correctly, doesn’t need surgery to put the clavicle together, and has a rapid recovery.

Amy gets help from the pros.

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