In life moments occur and circumstances present themselves that cause us to ask God why… and why me? One moment I am participating in a spectacular bicycle ride in top physical condition and feeling unstoppable and the next moment strapped to a stretcher in the back of a speeding ambulance careening down a twisting mountain road in the foothills of Denver, Colorado. I was en route to the hospital. I laid there with my head strapped to a body board, my left arm, shoulder and leg stripped of a layer or two of skin, I immediately recognized just how blessed I was to not be more seriously injured, although I knew that my broken collarbone meant the end to my racing season and perhaps the competitive cycling phase of my life.
The date was July 15, 2006 and I was struggling a little on a training ride with several of my teammates on a picture perfect Saturday morning in the foothills west of Denver and we had just completed a long climb and taken a rest stop. While on the descent I misjudged the apex of a 90 degree off camber turn and crashed against a guardrail traveling 41 mph striking a wooden support beam with my head. The blessing is that I went down due to gravel just before taking the full impact of the iron guardrail against my body, which could have resulted in a broken leg, hip, pelvis, internal organ damage or worse. I immediately recognized the blessing.
It was apparent to my teammates that I was seriously injured and one later commented that he heard the impact and feared much worse. My broken collarbone took seven weeks to heal which was much faster than the surprising and apparent emotional injury manifest in disappointment, discouragement, and a little regret for taking such risk.
I first had to overcome the profound sense of disappointment that the season for which I had trained with tremendous personal commitment had suddenly ended. In addition, I would later discover that I would have to overcome a fear of the decent; I discovered this affliction on a ride in the same area eleven weeks after the accident. I felt really good on the climb but it was squealing brakes and awkward turns for me as my teammates flew down the twist and turns on the same roads that I had earlier crashed on.
From time to time I think about the accident and quickly realize how much worse it could have been and the experience has caused me to be a “little” more cautious in pursuing my adventurous life. I have much to lose and I want to be around to fulfill my life’s purpose, which is to add value to the lives of others in order to leave the world a better place. I think I am a smarter cyclist and more grateful person as a result of the experience. I have always believed that you should look for the silver lining in life’s challenges and the accident provided a perfect opportunity for me to practice this belief.