|The scene at the convenience store in Garber Saturday, July 26th, 2014|
|Not as many tiger lilies as '09.|
Kudos to them, as they all agreed that we were in it together and that they were willing to wait on me. So it was that we soldiered onward. Hawk Road continued to climb, then Hamlet Road gave no quarter. Finally a short, fast down hill to Fantail Road on Glacier Road and a tiny respite of flat to rolling territory until Fantail kicked upward to an 18% grade.
|Check out the hazy sky. The heat and humidity were double nasty!|
Michael Lemberger was off next, then Aaron Schnee. The rest of the guys were up around a bend out of my sight line. I had to stop halfway up to cool down. I was over-heating very badly. I could barely put one foot in front of another, but I was super determined to finish out. After the Fantail Road climb we had one more nasty ascent out of Bixby Preserve and that was it. The rest I probably was capable of riding. I was sure I could get this done. At the top of this climb I would have a hair over 20 miles to go with plenty of daylight to get it done.
This climb was well over a mile long and I walked most of it. There was more at the top but it leveled out quite a bit. Over all, the Fantail Road climb is over two miles in length. I stopped just shy of the first crest where the rest of the guys were strung out alongside of the road. I was nearly delirious from the heat. I simply laid down on my back and closed my eyes. Minutes passed. I heard a vehicle drive up near to where Michael Lemberger stood. It was a big, white Chevy Silverado. It sat on the left side of the road as it faced East, motor running, just sitting there. I was too tired to wonder too much at that. Maybe it was a local making sure we were okay? I didn't want any fuss over myself or the others, so after a bit I stood up, grabbed my bike, started walking alongside the road and then.....
|I ended up sitting here near the fence.|
As I sat gathering my wits about me, Tony McGrane, who is a professional EMT/Fire rescue by trade, asked if I was okay, and told me not to move. Suddenly loud voices were being directed at the driver. He wanted to pull away, and the guys were pleading with him to shut off the truck. He was jerking the rig back and forth, with Aaron's bike wedged just underneath the front end. Finally the driver calmed down a tad, but even I could tell he was acting like he was extremely intoxicated. Aaron managed to dislodge his bike from under the truck. Then the driver asked if I was okay, and Tony shouted that no- I wasn't, and that the guy needed to stick around. Apparently fear got the best of this fellow and he sped away down the hill. Not before Michael, Jeremy, and Tony had images of his plates and truck. Then we all were just shell-shocked. Attention turned to me and Dan to see how we were.
|Ditch Selfie with Dan Buettner checking out my Tamland|
As the story unfolded a young teenager on an ATV rolled up and offered to go get help. Tony called 911 and the dispatcher had a hard time figuring out we weren't on RAGBRAI. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew was telling their versions of what they saw and as far as we could discern, the facts seemed to point to this fellow passing out/falling asleep as he idled there and his foot slipped off the brake, allowing his truck to roll down the hill toward us as we stood right at the road's edge. We figured the driver was jolted to awareness by hitting me or hearing Aaron's bike getting drug underneath his truck, or getting slowed up by Aaron's helmet.
|Not the guys you want to see on your gravel ride. That said, these men were awesome and much appreciated.|
My story ended as well as it could have. No severe injuries. No broken bones. Just sore and banged up. I'll be fine eventually. The rest of the gang got hauled away to Edgewood Fire Department. Dan and Tony got a ride to Backbone, where they got their vehicles, drove back, and ferried all the guys and bikes back to their cars. Jeremy Fry, who had ridden with Mike Johnson, drove my truck back home and they brought my belongings with them. My wife and son came out to get me.
The driver was arrested, charged, and admitted to the crime.
Now I know it wasn't my fault, but I want to offer my sincere apology for how this all turned out. It could have been much worse, but I never wanted to see it end anything like this either. Thanks to Mike, Michael, Jeremy, Aaron, Tony, and Dan for coming on this adventure. Thanks to the Edgewood Fire & Rescue, Iowa DNR, Iowa State Troopers, Regional Medical Center at Manchester, the driver and paramedic of the ambulance, and anyone else I forgot for helping us out and nabbing the suspect. Thanks to my wonderful wife for fetching me.
Needless to say, I feel very blessed and fortunate to come out of this one nearly unscathed and that no one else was seriously injured.