“Please tell him that he is not allowed to ride tomorrow!” I begged the ER doctor on Thursday following Doug’s second crash during RTR. On Monday Doug nicked the barrier wall of the bike path next to I-70 which brought him down and a rider behind him. On Thursday, exhausted and unsteady after riding up Tennessee Pass, he lost control on the descent, wiping out into a six-foot ditch on the side of the road, hence our trip to the ER. Luckily the ditch was soft and Doug didn’t sustain any serious injuries.
The ER doctor did not respond to my request as I had hoped. He encouraged Doug to keep riding in RTR even after two crashes in the same week and aim for the top of Loveland Pass. It turned out the doctor was a cyclist. He didn’t think that Doug’s minor injuries warranted him sitting out. It would be up to Doug to determine how much riding he could handle. The doctor described understanding the importance for a person with Parkinson’s disease to overcome physical challenges and accomplish difficult physical tasks.
Doug has always been a responsible rider. As his riding partner I have always known him to listen keenly to his body and respond appropriately. For those reasons I don’t usually worry too much about him. But after two crashes, my trust in his ability to listen to his body diminished. I didn’t believe that his injuries should keep him off the bike either but I was not sure that we could trust him to listen to his body. However, Doug had the doctor in his corner and so I would respect and support his decision to ride or not ride.
Road cycling is dangerous. While in some cases other RTR riders present dangers, for the most part there is a certain safety in riding in RTR. When Doug crashed several other RTR riders responded immediately, including a nurse and ski-patrol officer. Following the initial responders RTR’s sag and paramedics were quick to the scene. Cars sharing the road with RTR riders are forced to be aware of bike traffic. Which reminds me, I ran into the “Gasper,” wearing his signature day-glow, between Steamboat Springs and Avon. I could see his shirt from at least a mile away on the road!
Doug did feel up to riding Loveland Pass the day after the crash. I wanted to play it safe by sagging in from the top but Doug insisted upon descending and so we glided down to the aid station on the other side.
A motto of the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s is “every victory counts”. We didn’t complete every mile of RTR but we did have a few victories, and coming back after a couple of bad scares to summit Loveland definitely counts as one of them.