PCH - Day 17 to Brookings, OR
A day of motion and reset today. After a gorgeous morning conquering hills with the last coastline in Oregon, we had to cut the day short due to a serious accident with Adam and Brianne. Fortunately, everyone is safe and recovering; unfortunately Adam and Brianne will need to hang back while Janna and I continue to California tomorrow. They are fucking awesome and, after promises to hopefully collide our routes in the next week, we said goodbye and headed to Harris Beach State Park for the night. Below is what happened:
We were descending a hill along the side of a highway with a guardrail. The decline was sweet and swift, so I sped ahead to enjoy the feeling. Behind me, Janna and Brianne were talking while riding in line. A large pothole appeared on the shoulder. Janna called out, "Bump!" Brianne suddenly threw on her brakes as she hit the pothole, causing her to flip over her handlebars headfirst into the guardrail. She hit it so hard with her helmet and skull that the metal guardrail dented in. And it was a severe head injury to her.
Immediately Adam and Janna stopped. A passing car saw the whole thing and called 911. Meanwhile, I was super far ahead at the bottom of the hill and starting a climb on the other side. I had noticed at this point that no one was behind me anymore. Confused, I stopped on the shoulder for everyone to catch up. A car pulled up to me and asked, "Are you with that group of cyclists back there?" I responded in the affirmative. The drive said, "Well, there was a pretty bad accident back there with one of them. One of them crashed and hit their head and the police are there." Panic coursed through me for all worst possible scenarios. I turned around and pedaled with shear power down and back up the original hill to the scene.
There, I found Adam assessing Brianne. As a PA, he had the medical wherewithal to figure out that she didn't need am ambulance, but did need to get off her bike and into a hotel room for rest. I gawked at the dented guardrail, imagining the force it took with her head to dent it and dislodge a wooden post. With the help of the police, we put their bikes in the back of the cruiser and watched them drive ahead to Brookings, OR. Janna and I, shell shocked, got on our bikes and pedaled towards the town as well. We couldn't believe what had just happened.
Once in Brookings, Janna and I made for the local state park to setup our camp gear, and then we rode into town to connect with Adam and Brianne who were staying at a local hotel. Through tears and words, we knew they had to stay for several days to allow her to recover and to assess for any delayed head trauma. It meant our group was splitting up. We relayed how we were going to take an alternate route in the next few days out to the Lost Coast. They had intended to skip it. However, we would be tacking on several extra days by doing this alternate. Perhaps, we all mused, there was a possibility for a meetup in the future again along the route.
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