OYJ Petaluma ride report: Cyclist versus car

Since the hospital ER bays are separated only by curtains, we could clearly hear the ER doctor telling the man’s family that they had been doing compressions on the man for 25 minutes and had given him meds.  The doctor explained that they were running out of things that they could do and that it didn’t look good.

Jason and I were doing great, however.  I had had my xrays and was feeling much better.  We were pretty sure that the xrays would be clear and we were really just waiting to be released by the doctor.  Despite the dire situation occurring nearby, the doctor soon came and released me.  He warned me that my right shoulder would probably take longer to heal than I expected and that I might need some physical therapy.  I didn’t really believe him.  My shoulder hurt a little, but it did not seem that bad.  When we left, they were giving the cardiac arrest patient his third dose of epi as his family watched on.

Garmin trace showing ambulance trip

Of course, I hadn’t turned off my Garmin when I crashed.  I didn’t even know what had happened to my bike, but they had put it into the ambulance with me and the Garmin dutifully recorded the trip to the Petaluma Valley Hospital.

The OYJ (Oakland Yellowjackets) Petaluma ride is a great ride.  It goes over Joy Road and climbs the east side of the Coleman Valley Road wall.  The route then goes up the coast to Jenner, before returning along River Road and Bohemian Highway.  The official route has a bunch of climbing at the end, but we decided to cut out the final climbing and take the flatter way home.  Often on this ride, people cut out the jaunt up to Jenner and eat in Monte Rio instead.  I love Jenner and I wanted to go to the mouth of the Russian river to look at the seals.

To Jenner via Joy and Coleman

Don Mitchell and Jim Swarzman died in separate incidents after having been hit by cars.  Their deaths were awful.  Neither death should have happened at all.  There was absolutely no excuse for either incident.  I could go on and on, but the incidents were too upsetting.

Jack Holmgren, tired of having his friends killed, has embarked on a safety and high visibility crusade.  As part of this crusade, he gives lectures on how to be visible while you are cycling.  He also organized a mass buying of a high visibility neon-orange, day-glow vest with reflective tape on it.  In addition to the reflective tape already on the vest, Jack sewed large reflective tape on to the bottom of each vest.  When you lean down, the very reflective orange tape will still be visible.  “Moonbeams,” he called them.  People donated money in Don’s and Jim’s memories to Jack for him to buy the reflective tape.   I had bought one of these highly reflective vests with the Jack Moonbeam treatment and had been wearing the vest on my commutes.  Saturday’s ride was the first time I wore it on a regular ride.  Jack says that when cyclists are hit by cars, the car drivers say “I didn’t see him (or her).”  He argues that we owe it to Don Mitchell’s and Jim Swarzman’s memories to be as visible as possible.

Mavic vest without the special Jack Moonbeam treatment.

As I lied on the ground with a woman (an off duty nurse) holding my head to prevent me from moving, I could hear the woman who had cut me off, saying over and over that she hadn’t seen me.  At the time, I was happy that she was there.  I was happy that she had stopped and had not left the scene.  I was happy that she was upset that I was hurt.  Alexis told me later that she had been angry at the woman for going on and on about not seeing me as I lay there in my bright orange vest.

Moreover, I was happy that I was not seriously injured.  When the car had cut me off, I had not been able to see a way out.  I thought that this was it- this was going to be my bad accident and it was going to hurt a lot.   However, I was able to slow down the bike a lot more than I thought I would be able to and while my right arm hurt some, I knew that I was going to be ok.

The incident was not only witnessed by my husband and my friends, it was witnessed by an off duty deputy.  There were two off duty nurses at the scene.  I do not know how they could have gotten to me so fast.  As far as I can discern, I collided with the car and instantly this woman was there holding my head and telling me not to move.  The EMTs arrived immediately.  The policeman (David Gilman) who came and talked to me in the ER was very nice and helpful.  The woman who hit me did not leave.  She was loud and upset and she called 911.  The nurses at the ER were nice and the doctor was unhurried, nice and informative.  The XRay tech was great, very friendly and he made me very relaxed. Everyone at the Petaluma Valley Hospital was great.  Next time I crash, I want to do it in Petaluma.  As Jason drove home, he remarked about how great everyone was and that we should move there.

On Saturday evening, I was on a bit of a high.   I was so relieved that I had not been worse hurt.  I have moved past that stage and am currently a little annoyed that I cannot lift my right arm.  It does not hurt much, but the arm is weak and it lacks mobility.

I am also very upset that the vest made with “Moonbeam” reflective tape bought with donations made in Jim’s and Don’s memories still did not prevent me from getting in this type of incident.  I would not have been as upset if I had been wearing another high-vis item, but the wearing of this particular vest for the first time on a ride and still getting hit in this manner makes me unreasonably upset.

I stole this picture from Willy’s facebook site. It shows Willy (wearing the hat) and Don Mitchell.

Picture stolen from Chris Kostman of AdventureCorp

I am glad we went to Jenner.  I love Jenner.  The cafe is great.  Jason and I split a chicken sandwich, but not any ordinary chicken sandwich.  It was a chicken sandwich on focaccia bread with red pepper compote.  It was sooo yummy.  We  also split a hot chocolate to ward against the lingering fog and we sat outside watching the wildlife on the Russian river through a glass screen that protected us from the wind.  We listened to live music; a reggae singer was preforming.  It was one of those perfect moments that occur regularly on bike rides.  All the senses are delighted, you are surrounded by friends, and you sit there and think about how lucky you are.

After lunch, we rode up to see the mouth of the Russian river.  We saw a bunch of seals and two otters and that was nice, too.

4 responses to “OYJ Petaluma ride report: Cyclist versus car

  1. sad and sort of scary post, but glad you’re ok.

  2. Jane Middleton of the Oakland YellowJackets and RN case manager at Marin General

    Glad you are ok. The woman was probably daydreaming and no amount of “color” would have gotten her attention. I am grateful that she stopped. So many don’t. She was loud, etc. out of her own nervousness. She will definitely be more aware in the future. As for future pain and physical therapy you might need on your arm, don’t hesitate to contact her insurance company. Another reminder to her that she must share the road. I was with the lighter riders, on Bodega Road we had some hay trucks and farm trucks go by us at high rates of speed. Marin and Sonoma Counties have rural people, who are doing their farm chores, etc on Saturdays, and they are not gentle and kind to cyclists. We are a nuisance to them, and slow them down.
    Petaluma Valley Hospital treated you kindly, but you got a taste or reality through the curtain. You don’t want to crash again anywhere, not even in Petaluma!!

  3. Wow, Lisa, I didn’t know about your accident. So, so sorry to hear about this, but relieved to know you’ll recover. You’ll be back on the bike before you know it. Thank you for your telling story. I think I’ll look into Jack’s vest more thoroughly. I usually have a pretty neon-like vest I wear, but this one looks superior. Again, glad you’re OK. — Barb

  4. I ride in this area frequently. In fact, I was in the area this past Sunday. We (me and a friend) rode up River Road into Healdsburg, and returned via Sweetwater. We also rode along the Bohemian Highway where we were unceremoniously almost run off the road by some jackass in a monster truck. His actions were deliberate, as he buzzed me in attempt to run me off the shoulder into the adjacent ravine.

    While the roads of Sonoma offer some of the best cycling in the world, they are also some of the most dangerous. I’m happy that the author was not seriously injured – or killed. But know that any cycling trip in Sonoma county may be your last.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s