Saturday, September 28, 2013

Nashville Ride Recap

My plan had been to post on Facebook, write on this blog, and use Twitter, Vine and Instagram to document this year's ride as it happened. However at 50 miles into the 100 mile ride I had a severe crash resulting in 4 broken ribs, a punctured lung and more than a little road rash. So I'm going to bring everyone up to speed with one massive post. Thanks to everyone who has sent along prayers and recovery wishes. I'm on the mend, but more on that later.

The JDRF West Michigan Cycling Team in front of Parthenon in Nashville.
We arrived in Nashville after a 10 hour drive from Michigan. Our hotel was the Marriott at Vanderbilt University (insert ominous foreshadowing music). 515 riders from all across the country were assembling for the ride.

Opening reception at the Silver Dollar Saloon.
The JDRF staff loaded everyone up on buses and took us all downtown to the Silver Dollar Saloon for the opening reception. It was fun hanging out with all our team mates and reconnecting with other JDRF riders we've met over the years. At the reception it was announced that the Nashville ride had raised $1.5 million. That makes Nashville the largest ride ever in terms of riders and the largest ride ever in dollars earned.

We stared Friday with a Rules of the Road meeting. All the riders and staff assembled in a large tent in the back parking lot of the Holiday Inn, the second event hotel. This is where the ride staff lets the riders know what to expect on Saturday. We then went out for a short tune-up ride to check our bicycles and get a feel for the start of the course. Our team went over to a local park that sports a recreation of the ancient Greek Parthenon. We figured that would be a great place for this year's team photo. (see above)

Tom, Linda and Mary kayaking.
We had some free time on Friday afternoon so a bunch of us went kayaking on the Harpeth River. Mary, Ian and I along with Cindy and her friend Mike, Linda T.P., Jason, and Jerry from Jersey spent a couple of hours  paddling down the very peaceful southern river. Peaceful that is until the rain storm hit. It was a warm day so the few sprinkles were fine. But suddenly there was a line across the water like you'd see when going under the waterfall on an amusement park lazy river ride. Except it wasn't going to be dry at the other end. It rained really hard for about 10 minutes and the only thing louder than the sound of the rain on the river was our laughter.

Ian decorating his helmet with team mate Susanna.
On Friday night we had the traditional pre-ride pasta dinner. On the West Michigan team we also have a Friday night tradition. We get together after dinner and decorate our helmets. With over 500 people dressed in the same jersey and wearing black shorts we need some way to tell who our team mates are from a distance. Also, we use that time to talk about our reasons for participating in the Ride. It's always one of the best parts of the weekend to hear from people with Type 1, parents of people with Type 1 and those who have no family connection to the disease. There were eight of us in that group who were part of our first team in 2005. It was great going around the circle and hearing the stories I know so well and also the stories of our newer members.

Ian, Mary and Tom at the start of the Nashville Ride for a Cure.
Saturday morning dawned rainy. In fact a big thunderstorm rolled through on Friday night, so the ride start was delayed by an hour. This was no big deal except that we needed to be at Break Point #3 by 10:20 a.m. If we didn't make that we would be able to go for the full century ride. That meant a 15 mph pace. Doable but with all the hills we were going to have work hard. Right at the start I met a rider from Tennessee named Justin Gregory. He has Type 1 diabetes and works at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (cue second ominous foreshadowing music). Justin didn't have anyone to ride with so he hooked up with Ian and me. In truth Justin rode with Ian and I did everything I could to hold onto those two. Ian has been riding strong all summer and the hills didn't seem to bother him at all. Since we were trying to make time I decided I'd take photos after we hit the cut off point. We made that and found that several of our team mates, including Mary, also made the cutoff.

Cindy, Mary and Linda on the Natchez Trace
I started off on the next leg of the route right behind Ian and Justin but they quickly dropped me. So I waited for a few of our team mates and rode to the turnaround with them. The first half of the ride had been beautiful. We rode past some gorgeous homes on the outskirts of Nashville before hopping onto the Natchez Trace Parkway. The hills were rolling and plentiful with some spectacular views. The route was 50 miles out and 50 miles back. I was the first of this newest group to arrive at the turnaround. It was just a little downhill to a rest room then back uphill and back toward Nashville. Sounds simple enough but this is where that ominous music kicks in. As I was coming down the hill my front tire slipped off the side of the road. My bike flipped sideways and I went down hard going about 20 mph. I was in a lot of pain but within seconds a couple of fellow riders stopped by. One of them was a medic. They did a quick evaluation and called the ambulance. One of the next riders to show up was DOCTOR Justin Gregory. It seems that our new friend didn't just work at the hospital he's a doctor there. I was in good hands.
Dr. Gregory, the EMTs and head medic Brock working on me.
The various docs, medics and EMT's worked on me as I lay on the ground. My jersey and Under Armor were ripped up pretty bad and had to be cut off. Apparently my helmet cracked when it hit the ground but my head and neck were okay. Once again another good reason to wear a helmet. I should have had a helmet on my ribs. When I got to the emergency room at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (remember the foreshadowing music earlier) I found out that I broke four ribs and punctured my left lung. That meant I wouldn't be leaving for home on Sunday. I did get to go to the trauma ward and have a chest tube put in. I spent the the night under the very attentive care of the staff on trauma. Very attentive. I don't think i slept for more than 45 minutes straight until someone came in to give me medicine, take my vital signs or just to check on me. In truth the care was wonderful the entire time I was there and I really want to thank the entire staff. It's easy to see why Vanderbilt is one of the top teaching hospitals in the country.

I was moved to a private room very early (6:30 a.m.) on Sunday morning. More tests, more tubes, more wires, and more drugs. They kept trying various combinations to keep the pain down without causing me nausea. We ended up with a delightful cocktail of slow release morphine, 800 mg ibuprofen, and oxycodone. Not to mention the bacitracin applied twice a day to my road rash. They also had me breathe into a little device to make sure I was taking deep enough breathes so I didn't develop pneumonia. On Monday morning a different trauma doctor than the one who put the chest tube in said it was time to take it out. Two amazing things about that; how much better I felt as soon as the tube was out and how long that sucker was. I had about 8 inches of plastic tube the width of my index finger inside of my chest. The docs said the lung was 95% mended and should be 100% within the next day or so. After another virtually sleepless night I was released Tuesday morning to make the long drive home. Thanks to my lovely wife Mary for doing all the driving.

I got my 9th JDRF medal in the hospital room instead of at the finish line.
My prognosis is for a full recovery. However until that happens I can't ride my bike or participate in any physical activity that might bump my body for 6 weeks. I can't lift more than 5 pounds or mow the lawn. And I can't drive until I'm off the narcotic pain medication early next week. So I'm looking for volunteers to rake leaves in my lawn over the next few weeks. Any takers? Seriously thank you to all my cycling team mates, friends, and family for their outpouring of prayers and concern. This is the worst sports injury of my life, but I know it could have been a lot worse. I consider myself fortunate to have had this accident at such a well supported ride. And the bottom line is I raised $3,000 for diabetes research, our family raised over $9,000, and the entire Nashville ride raised over $1.5 million. Plus, Ian finished the full 100 miles for his first JDRF century. So despite my mishap this was a very successful ride. Thanks again everyone for your help and concern and donations.

P.S. I have photos of the bruise on my left side. It starts in the middle of my back and runs all the way down to just above my left knee. I'll not be posting that, but if you'd like to see it just let me know and I'll send you an email.


Steven Berube said...

Great story Tom! Sorry to hear about your mishap but glad to hear you're on the mend! See you next season unless they find a cure before then!

Anonymous said...

Son of a ....., Tom. Glad you're OK now.