Day 35, July 26
Coal City, IL, to LaPorte, IN
Cumulative: 2492 miles
Today was a bad day. The second half of a very long ride was on roads with traffic so dense that many riders were frightened, it rained part of the day, and, worse of all, two riders were slightly injured in an accident with a car.
Near the Illinois-Indiana border, a car driven by a young woman struck the rear of a rider's bicycle. The impact threw him into the air, and he hit and smashed the windshield of the car that struck him, then fell onto the highway pavement. His helmet was fractured. His bike struck another rider, dumping that person into the highway ditch. A neighbor rushed out to stop traffic and others called an ambulance. The car driver reportedly was extremely distraught and sorry at causing the accident. "I didn't see you," she repeated over and over again.
Both riders were taken to a local hospital. They had a certain amount of road rash. One may have cracked or broken a tail bone. After a battery of tests, they were released in the evening.
The bike that was hit may also have survived. The rear wheel and the sturdy rear rack took the force of the accident. The frame appeared to be intact and repairable. Both riders plan to continue their trip.
The riders were adamant that their names not be released even though family members had been notified. Ride leader Ryan Kaplan all but ordered ride bloggers not to mention their names. In all cases where there is injury or death, news agencies historically have withheld names of those involved until families could be notified. My note about the death of Phil Smith early in the ride did not include his name as his family had not yet been told of his death.
But once victims' families are notified, there's a different issue to consider. Anyone reading this blog and other accounts who has a friend or relative on the ride will wonder and worry whether he or she was the victim or victims. The injured folks will preserve their privacy but in so doing may cause fright and worry for friends and relatives of all the other riders.
Roads with traffic so heavy that riders are concerned about their safety has become a major issue. Adventure Cycling borrowed this cross-country route from the American Lung Association of Washington state, which has run it several times to reward people who raise a certain amount of funds. Our riders have persuaded Adventure Cycling staff to move the route in several places to less-traveled highways, and this process apparently will continue through the end of the ride next month.
Yesterday, one rider dropped out. She said she rides her bicycle for fun, but this ride was no longer fun, so she's leaving. We are all very sorry to see her go. I'm still having fun, though the pace is tiring. Today I decided not to ride so I could get some rest.