My second day back from vacation, Tuesday, I met up with Alex for an after-work dirt session in Millcreek Canyon. I had thought about racing RMR to help get my legs ready for the Bikes4Kids stage race this weekend. But Millcreek with Alex sounded a lot more fun than riding circles at RMR, so that's where I went. Unbeknownst to me, my brother, who doesn't really like the RMR course and usually skips it in favor of DMV, was out there racing.
The ride was pleasant enough. Humid from the recent rain, but lots of flowers blooming and nice tacky trails. At the top of the saddle above Park City, the one place in the entire canyon where you get a phone signal, my phone started ringing.
It was my teammate Adam. Steve had been in a bad crash at RMR, and they were trying to reach his wife. Details were scarce, but I called her, gave her the number of the other teammate who was with Steve and would know what hospital he had been taken to, and then I made a B-line down the canyon* to the hospital.
*Sidebar rant: Millcreek Canyon has the highest asshole quotient of any trail network anywhere I have ever been. Not once but twice on my descent, after I had either slowed and pulled to the side or come to a complete stop and moved to the side to yield to uphill traffic, I had riders change course to move in my direction, the one when I had stopped actually making contact, both of them clearly overdoing it on making their point that downhill riders are supposed to yield to uphill traffic. It was enough to make me wonder how they intended to get down if not by the trails. Even though I was in a hurry to get to the hospital, I delayed my descent to give them the right of way. And yet, somehow I didn't delay quite enough for their satisfaction. I wonder if they realize that such behavior makes me less inclined, not more, to be as courteous as possible to other trail users. The experience still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I got to the hospital to learn that Steve had collided head on with the Tuff Shed that is on the course at RMR at about 50kmh. His ribs and sternum were fractured, but the internal injuries to his organs and brain were the real concern. After quite some time in the waiting room, we were allowed into the ICU to see him.
During these few hours, I watched a community spring into action. Aaron and Chantel went back to RMR, sans car keys, but assuming they'd figure something out, and got Steve's car and brought it to the hospital. Cam and Jake sat patiently waiting well into the night, not to see Steve, but just to be ready in case anyone needed anything. Alex sent me tidbits providing additional context for Steve's injuries. Daren and Dave H. called to see how Steve was doing and what we needed, and I remained busy in the waiting area fielding phone calls, text messages, and emails.
Steve made progress through the night, and at about 2:00 a.m., the nurse told us to go home and get some sleep. I brought Marco back in the morning, and although Steve was still asleep, they had removed the breathing tube. His neurologist updated us on his condition: the brain injury was not as bad as originally feared, and he was optimistic Steve would make a full recovery. Big sigh of relief. He's got a long and painful recovery ahead of him, but he's steadily improving and will get there with time.
I cannot count the various offers of help and expressions of concern we have received from other cyclists. It seems the guys we work the hardest against in the races have also been the most anxious to help. I'm happy to report that Steve's immediate needs are being met--he is receiving excellent care at the hospital, and his wife and kids are taken care of and in good spirits.
Rachel and I often joke that going to a bike race is like going to a family reunion because we see so many people that we love and care about. The outpouring we have received since Steve's crash has prompted us to drop "like" from that comparison. Thank you so much for your care and concern.