TandemHearts

Bumps and Bruises in the Pacific Northwest

June 30th, 2007

In early June, Veronica heard about an organized bike ride called the Tour de Blast, that goes up the highway into the Mount St Helen National Volcanic Monument. It sounded like it would have spectacular views and a lot of climbing – right up her alley. We decided we would take ten or twelve days, stopping on the way to Washington to ride in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, do the ride, then go back as far as Oregon to ride the North Umpqua Trail again and ride around Crater Lake.

So, we loaded 2 road bikes on the roof of the car and 2 mountain bikes into back of the car, along with all our camping gear and set off the Pacific Northwet. Whiskeytown NRA is one of the few parks in the National Park system that allows mountain bikes on trails. We picked up a trail book and headed for a ride that had a lot of climbing and good views. This would be a sort of shake down ride, since Veronica hadn’t done any mountain biking in several months. Thom had been making good use of his time off to ride local trails, so he and his bike were ready. A few miles into the ride, we missed a turn and had to head back down a steep, paved road to get the the trail head.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

  • 911 to the rescue. Although Veronica ended up with no serious injuries, we couldn't be sure of that sitting by the roadside.
  • Following our mantra of "Always take photos", here is the owie at the crash scene.
  • Veronica will have to give up any dreams of being an elbow model.
  • Veronica is not happy.

While Veronica was holding a water bottle in one hand, we came upon a car doing a U turn, so she tapped the (front) brakes, as she had done hundreds of times before. Unfortunately, we had not noticed that the shocks in her front fork were massively under pressurized. When she put on the brakes, the front end compressed fully and launched her over the handle bars. Let this be a reminder to all to always do a pre-ride check on your gear. The car drove off, probably not even knowing we were there. Veronica got a 4 inch laceration on her elbow that was painful enough that she was unable to stand up. We ended up calling 911 and Veronica went to the hospital. She was alert and in reasonably good spirits as the rescue workers loaded her into the ambulance. We even joked about attractive firemen. In the ER, she checked out OK, and got 7 stitches in her elbow. We switched from camping to a hotel so she could get a good night’s rest.

When we ride, we always joke that if there is an accident, somebody has to be sure to take photos. Thom did his part to document the aftermath. We have photos of the wound in a separate gallery, but they are a bit ugly, so view at your own risk. Bicycle helmets are only good for one impact. So, even though there was no evidence of a head impact, we played it safe and picked up 2 new helmets for Veronica. She could not decide which color she liked better.

We left Whiskeytown the next day and headed for Mt. St. Helens. The local Rotary puts on the Tour de Blast as a fund raiser and they do a fine job. The route is unusual, because it is impossible to get lost. Starting at a school at the base of Mt. St. Helens, the route stays on highway 504 until the road runs out 42 miles later. The only turn (beyond parking lots) is the U turn at the end. The Rotary pairs with a local Goldwing motorcycle club to patrol the route for SAG and has rest stops at the view points. This route starts out flat but eventually becomes a 20 mile, 4-5% climb. It isn’t too steep, so riding is just a matter of finding your happy place and enjoying the views. Veronica was very sore from her accident, so we only went about 90% of the way. We went to the top of the big climb and turned around at the rest stop there. The pavement is good and the traffic wasn’t very heavy, so it was a great ride. The clouds were low and threatening, but the rain held off until late that night.

Veronica was sore, but happy to be on the bike again. She’d try mountain biking again when we got to Oregon.

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