Day 4: The Ditch Day
From: Ashland, VA
To: Near Kent’s Store, VA
Distance: Exact unknown. About 65 miles
View Garmin Data (includes ride in sheriffs’ car by Precious at the end)>
I am typing this with one hand. I wish that was as dirty as it sounds. But it’s not and I’ll explain that in a minute.
But first, let’s catch up. After a restful night in Ashland, I set off on what I planned to be a long mileage day. First stop would be Mineral for lunch, then on to just outside Charlottesville to a KOA. About 95 miles, give or take.
It ended up being “take” day. Definitely a take.
But you don’t know things are going to go pear shaped when you’re starting out, all fresh in the legs and filled with hope and wonder. You think things’ll be apples. So, I hit the road early on. In town, I cycled along for a while with a roadie who was happy to hear about my adventure, and who told me I was going to hit some hills today. Perhaps an hour after that, I did. My first real test of climbing prowess.
I got a little way up this horribly steep hill before realizing I was in too big a gear. Rather than walk the rest of the way up, I became curious as to my ability, so turned around and went back to the bottom to give it a go for real. It was quite an effort and I felt my heart beating in my ears, but I made it pretty easily in the end. And I wasn’t even in my granny! I am so glad I swallowed my pride and got the gears swapped out for the MTBing gears. So, so happy. One decision I will never regret.
This is all filler. I know you want to get to the one hand part.
On and on I went. Up and down rolling hills, through beautiful lane ways and cheered on by a phalanx of trees on either side of me. I breathed in the smells—I think the most prevalent for the day was jasmine. It’s been a while since I’ve seen jasmine, but if you’d asked me to identify the white flowers from which I thought this fragrance was coming from, that’s what I would have said.
I also experienced my first dog chase of the trip. Two young fellas, darting out from a front yard, one big and dopey retriever and his smaller yappy pal. Both gave chase, though it took a while for the retriever to give up. He didn’t look like he’d bite, so I just picked up my pace, but a few others later in the day had angry, throaty barks that indicated a desire to rip my legs off. Thankfully, they were tied up, because the timbre of their barks made me pee my Mellow Johnny’s a smidge.
Mineral brought me lunch in the form of a BBQ pork sandwich. I sat, writing in my notebook while chowing down and people gazing. I’d also been stopped in the parking lot by a guy in a pickup who’d said, “I met a couple of your countrymen earlier!” A sentence he quickly retracted when he heard my accent. Apparently, a couple of Brit cyclists are on their way to Alberta, and only a few hours in front of me.
Winding my way through a map panel or two and I found myself passing through Kent’s Store. At least I think I passed through Kent’s Store. This is where things start getting a little hazy.
This is ’round about where I lose things.
If you’ve flipped through the photos in this post, you’re probably all, “Why the hell is she talking about trees and hills and lunch when it’s obvious something dramatic happened!? Why the hell is she typing with one hand?”
Something dramatic did happen.
While coming down a steepish hill, I felt the trailer start to fishtail. I corrected, as far as I remember, but perhaps not as much as I thought. I distinctly remember thinking “Oh, shit, this is going to hurt”.
And then I remember looking up at helicopter rotor blades. And that was MANY hours later. What happened in between is all a bit of a blur.
But I do remember other things. I remember my EMTs, Melinda and Bernie. I remember “Snoddy” the trooper, leaning over and telling me he was taking Precious to the police station. (I asked several times how Precious was, so he is known by name throughout Virginia now). I remember being put in the neck brace. I remember looking at my wrist and thinking ‘that looks swollen, please don’t be broken’.
I don’t remember saying, with conviction, that the year was 2008. I don’t remember waving to the woman in her yard at the top of the hill at some point that afternoon. Which, by all reports, I did. Two hours before they found me. I don’t remember lying in a ditch for two hours, so I guess I was unconscious. I was asked if I remembered a car, as there was a skid mark before the scene. But since I don’t remember a vehicle, and have some memory of the trailer issues, they think there probably wasn’t one.
I do remember taking a photo of myself with my iPhone in the emergency room. In a neck brace. With blood all over my face. As I turned the white phone around, I remember noticing the blood on its pristine Apple finish. I remember asking for my RoadID, only to find it had flown off in the accident, but still being able to call Andrew. They found it later, after foraging around in the ditch.
I remember Andrew answering the call and me suddenly being incredibly embarrassed about having to explain what had happened. About how I had failed already. I hesitated about what to say, had a stumble in language and a sheepishness in my voice which made him fear the worst in terms of my brain function. I have since apologized for that and will for a long time to come.
A curtain pulled back and the EMTs came to visit. Bernie was holding a plastic bag filled with cash. They’d had a whip-’round as they figured I was by myself and had nothing. I declined to accept but remain incredibly touched by the humanity of strangers.
Melinda, my other EMT, ended up taking me home to her house. Like a lost puppy.
I’m finding it hard to express my gratitude as I write this and have just spontaneously welled up in the eye area. It’s raining on my face. I’ve just been cutting onions. Seriously. I seem to get weepy a lot, which is in part to do with the fail thing, and in part about just how amazing people can be.
I look terrible. I have stitches in my face. My wrist is broken. I feel…
Disappointed. Like a failure. Wrecked.
Which is weird, because I’ve already decided that as soon as I can, I’m going to pick up the trail where I left it. I 100% have to finish what I started, and even though people’s fears have been somewhat realized, I just can’t abandon the dream. If my stupid wrist wasn’t broken, you can bet your arse I’d be right out there now. A bit beaten up, and with stitches in my face, but out there!
I wanted to write a lot about determination and my plans for getting back out there, but I am now weeping quite openly in front of a beagle and I don’t know why. At 1.45pm today, I’m taking my broken wrist to an ortho, where he’ll hopefully tell me I can get back on the road in month.
And Precious. Poor Precious. I have to take him back to the shop for diagnosis. I hope he’s ok!
This entry was supposed to be quite humorous, but I lost the thread somewhere in the middle. Sorry. I love you all. And I’m glad I’m ok. I’m glad helmets work. And I’m extremely glad I have friends who love me. My parents love you too.
Thanks to everyone who helped me out, medically and mentally, and thanks for all the kind words I received via Twitter, email, Dailymile and this blog. It has all helped, including the licks by dogs who aren’t therapy dogs but could easily be.
Go to next post (10 weeks later!) > Day 5, TransAmerica 2.0
Sorry to hear about your prang. You’ll get back on, you’ll do your ride. Looking forward to the Grand Resumption.
So glad to hear you’ll ride on! It’s even better to hear of the help, love and kindness from strangers… people who you now will call friends and always remember! There a plenty of really good people in this world. The best part is how many more you’ll get to meet as you continue your big trek. Rest up, get well and prepare to Ridestrong again soon. All the best to you and Prescious.
beagles are the BEST therapy dogs!
also, brain bumps can cause uncharacteristic emotional responses….well…so can taking a header over the handlebars at 30 mph….but…just be aware that head bumps cause strange things to happen, too.
many blessings and strength to you!
Hey J, sorry to hear about the crash. Was following your feed every day. Ive broken my collarbone 2x on a bike – it’s no fun. Hope you and Precious are minimally set back, and you get on the road again. Let’s ride when you can!
Love you Janeen. I have no doubt you will finish what you started, but heal up first lady!!!!!!!
I am really glad you are OK!!!!!
I wish you a speedy recovery, and hope Precious is okay. Ride on!
I am just glad you are (generally) OK – sounds like it could have been much worse.
Good luck healing – the roads will be there waiting for you whenever you’re ready.
You’ve gone four days further than most of us ever will in our lives. So congrats on that; not a fail, just a hiccup. You’ll finish this journey soon enough. Feel better and again, let us know if you need anything.
LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTS OF LOVE.
Lady, you are a badass. Rest up and keep the faith!
Rest up, get better and get back on the bike. You’re going to have an amazing adventure for a great cause. This copywriter and bike fanatic is cheering for you all the way.
You’re OK. That’s the big thing. The rest will work itself out.
Glad to hear you are on the mend. Hang tough! One pedal stroke at a time!
Ouch! If it’s any consolation, seeing your banged-up face on AdFreak ultimately resulted in my making a donation just now. And yes: hurray for helmets!
I’ve not read your blog before, a recommendation from a Twittererer, but I found this post moving, touching and funny. I’ll definitely be reading more. You’ve inspired me to take minor actions for myself today. Heal well. Good luck with the ortho and bike doctor.
Hi Janeen, thanks for the update. We’re all 100% behind you. If you need anything at all, feel free to ask, I’ll see what I can send your way.
That guy that rides his bike lots.
I’m so glad you’re “OK”. Weepy seems totally reasonable, if for no other reason that you where unconscious in a ditch. Add to it all the other reasons: broken writs, delay of trip, precious being scared… and you have every right to be weepy for a bit.
I think every good adventure has it’s missteps, it’s minor disasters. I have no doubt you’ll be back on the road ASAP, and am thankful you got your disaster out of the way at the start so that you can enjoy the rest of your tour 🙂
Glad to hear you are recovering, burised and bloodied but not outta the game. I never wondered about the whole control thing with the trailer, hell, I get white knuckles just me my bike and a rain slicked descent where I “zoom” to 35 mph and hope I don’t go sliding across the asphalt! Hope the wrist heals up and you are back out there before you know it. Glad to hear about the kindness of strangers.
So sorry things turned sour so early on into your trip. I can’t imagine the disappointment you feel. I’m also totally thrilled to hear you’re going to continue despite your setback. This trip is going to happen and you’re going to be able to look back with pride at the fact that you were able to get back onto the bike after your wreck.
As an aside, the fact that your trailer brought you down is pretty sketchy. I know it’s all a haze, I wonder if you were breaking hard…? I ride with a trailer from time to time and would very much like to avoid this situation. :/
Not to dive into a huge trailer versus panniers argument, but I just found a very similar story to your own on BikeForums:
In the Appalachians of SW Virginia I met up with Dan, who, upon descending a rather steep hill was jack-knifed by his BOB. One whole side of his body looked like hamburger! Upon inspection, the pin on the BOB was broken. Whether it broke during the crash or was the cause of the crash was unknown.
Woops. Link here: http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index.php/t-25268.html
Very moved by your writeup, and I am sure you are not only in pain physically, but extremely disappointed. Sometimes these adventures don’t work out like we planned, but I am so glad to hear that you intend to go again. My husband and I have toured the area you described, and it is truly stunning riding territory. You will be out there again soon.
Alas, such is life. We get knocked down and get up again.
Position this real life conflict amidst a grand adventure, and you have the makings of a GRIPPING story. Already I’m on the edge of my seat, and the journey has only just begun. I’m not trying to say I’m some sort of sadist waiting for your next accident. Instead, like watching any great protagonist, I can feel your obstacle like it’s mine (at least I convince myself so), and I crave for you to continue – to reach your goal.
Though, to be frank, I feel you are already a success for not just talking about your dream, but having the vim and moxie to actualise it. So I watch breathlessly, paused, in hope you continue, but already admiring the intrepidity you’ve clearly displayed so far.
Not being one to do things by halves, you certainly crashed in style, and a helicopter rescue too! On a serious note, am so very glad to hear you’re “ok”, it could’ve been much worse… the helmet tells that story! I hope you have some good news from the ortho, and make sure you heal up nicely now!
This is certainly not a failure, it’s a moment’s reflection on the kindness of strangers, the hardiness & frailty of the body, and the importance of a helmet!
Sorry to read about your crash. Relieved to hear you are not more seriously injured. You are one tough cookie. Loved that you raised the ante with Armstrong over stitches & the comment about “it must be the drugs”. Earlier you mentioned the lack of SAG on your journey, you found that there are amazing people more than willing to help a mobile SAG wagon of sorts. I’m amazed at how you always find a way to smile. Between you and Fatty you fill my online read with pleasure.
that is so a match.com profile pic if i’ve ever seen one! Lol. Woman, you are one tough cookie. This is just the beginning of your grand adventure. Who said that the adventure had to all be on the bike?!?!
Glad you see you are taking you “licks” well and not worse for the wear. Heal up RIGHT and we’ll all be here anxiously awaiting the next post.
– I’m a total fan!
Tina and Andreas
We hope you’re back on the road within the month Noodle.
Thinking of you and Precious
Andreas, Tina, Jett and Bowie xxx
So sorry to hear about your crash. If it only delays your cross-country trip, think of it in a weird way as a bonus (if there can be any such thing). Surviving something and seeing the remnants is spooky, but serves as a powerful reminder that we can rally when called upon. Even through tears and confusion or zero memory of what happened, the body and mind figure out a way to sally forth.
I too, crashed and was found unconscious on the side of the road in 2008, face and ear torn up bad, teeth smashed to hell, and helicopter blades whop-whop-whopping. I carry a few scars today after a four-hour surgery, a few implants and an upper bridge, but say thank you every day for the chance to ride, be outside and experience the road. There’s just something about a bike.
Here’s to your recovery, and a renewed sense of gratitude through all that has happened.
Hey janeen sorry to hear about your crash!! Sucks but in the grand scheme of things – at least you’re ok! Get well soon
i suppose the positive out of all this is that it’s another example of the kindness of strangers. you deserve some time to process it all and decide the next steps. what i think is great is this will make your eventual arrival at the pacific — i have no doubts that will happen — all the more sweet.
Noodle! So sorry to hear about the crash. You’ll be back up on the bike in no time and we’ll all be reading with giddy support. YOU ROCK!
What a tough tumble! Sucks that it happened. It’s so scary that it only takes a second for things to go wrong. Take your time getting better and get back on the road when you can!
Sorry to hear about your crash, but it sounds like you’ll be up and at ’em in no time! I don’t know how recently I realized that the expression wasn’t “up and atom” or “up and Adam” but it was embarassingly recent.
What a tough lady you are. I am so glad that Fatty directed me to your blog. I love your style and will definitely be stopping in again. Heal quickly and know that your story is an inspiration to keep up the fight.
Check out fatty’s latest. Nice to know you are being watched by such an important person, quite famous Radio Shack commentator/adviser.
I hope you feel better soon… You’ll be back on “precious” in no time. If you want to ride in NYC to test out the wrist, let me know.
Got to you through Fatty. Sorry to hear about your accident, but thrilled to hear you are OK. Kudos to you for wanting to keep going.
You will heal, and be stronger for it.
Best of luck.
Fatty informed us of the mishap and he (along w/ his minions) are hoping for a quick recovery.
Sorry it happened to such a person that had such great goals. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but don’t let it get you down.
Keep your head up and know we’re rooting for you!
Another Fatty referral, here. That sounds like a heck of a crash. Your bravery and desire to be back out there riding speaks well of you, and of ‘your countrymen’ (by which I mean the worldwide tribe of cyclists) in general.
Like many others, I’m really impressed by your wit and intelligence. I hope you won’t mind if I add yours to my list of bike blogs better than my own 🙂
Get better soon! (Fatty sent me.) BTW I used to race against the Toga cycling team in the late 70’s. You gave me quite a flashback!
So sorry to read that you’ve put the rubber side wrong ways. (that’s the closest I can come to approximating noodle-speak)
You know, it was your 100MilesOfNowhere video that inspired my own 100MilesToNowhere events (http://www.facebook.com/100MilesToNowhere) I’ll wager that your current adventure has the same effect on many, many others.
Here’s wishing you a speedy and complete recovery. If you are ever out Phoenix way, you’ve got a friend and a place to stay if you need it.
Yours on Team Fatty,
Hadn’t gotten to read up on your adventures yet, and then I saw on Fatty’s blog about your off-road riding experience. 🙁
Keep on keeping on and get well soon. You’ll vanquish the TransAmerica some day yet!
As Lance would say… “Pain is temporary, Quitting lasts forever”. You go girl… get well and start again… you can do it.
So sorry to hear about the crash! I had a bone-breaking crash last year. It is NO fun. But no fear- you’ll be back onthat bike before you know it. You were actually riding through some of my favorite places- Ashland has great terrain and works them legs. Virginia is where I was in my best cycling shape!
Next time, stop by the Ashland Coffee Shop and get a sandwich as you set out!
Sorry about the setback, but happy that you were not more seriously hurt, and very much looking forward to your comeback. Wishing you speedy healing.
Best to you and Precious…
Heal fast. There are two kinds of cyclists – those who have crashed and those who will crash. Not you’ve got that out ouf your way!
Hated the movie, hate the plant–keep fighting the good fight and remember, leaves of three, let be… ;o)
i can’t wait til your back on the bike. it’s going to be even more gratifying at the end of it all.
Noodle, I admire your sense of adventure, and your photographer’s eye. Heal fast, and finish your adventure! I wish I was as brave as you are!
Like others sent here by Fatty, I’m already a fan after just reading this one entry. You are one tough gal, and I’d love to ride with you. Here’s to your fast recovery. Cheers!
Noodle…You are one lucky Aussie (though you probably don’t feel like it right now). Two hours in a ditch??? That’s some scary stuff. Positive vibes are coming your way.
OMG what a crazy story! That is so scary that you were in a ditch alone for a couple of hours! Fatty’s blog directed me over here (I did love your 100 Miles of Nowhere video last year) and I am just stopping in to wish you well. I am now going to go and check out your flickr page and read a bit more of this blog. Best of luck and heal quickly@
Heal fast. I know you will get back out there. I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing about your adventure as it unfolds…in the future.
Hope you’re back out on the road soon. Glad you’re reasonably OK.
Hey, as a fellow Fatty I’m sending you healing thoughts from NJ. Hang in there!
prayers go out for a quick recovery and healing….
Ouch! Wishing you and Precious a speedy recovery.
Yikes! Get well quick and get back on the road 🙂 I’ve only just discovered your blog thanks to Fatty, and remember my boyfriend and I watching your video from last years Ride to Nowhere with huge smiles. I will be checking back often now that I have you bookmarked, and am looking forward to hearing of your speedy recovery!
All the best with your recovery! You have a great post-wipeout attitude, so I am betting that you will be on your bike and back at your quest in no time (although you’ll probably be poppin’ ibuprofen for a while as one’s wrists are stressed as much as one’s bum on long rides).
I also buy the theory that it was a vehicle that sent you flying into the pucker brush as you have no recollection of the actual crash–which you most likely would have if you simply “lost it.”
Again, good luck, and I will be on your wheel in Fatty’s next 100MTN!
Never think you’re a failure! What you did was and continues to be amazing! Perservere, get back in the saddle and complete your journey! I’m pulling for you and a quick recovery!
OUCH. Hope you get better soon! And keep us posted on Precious!
Hi Noodle, Glad to hear that you are (relatively) ok, get well soon, and thank you for inspiring me to do the 100MTN.
Two hours unconscious in a ditch and rescued by helicopter? Wow. Now that’s falling with style! I hope you heal quickly!
I’ve been obsessively reading TransAmerica stories for the past couple of weeks (I feel a midlife crisis coming on) and I have to say that your story so far is the best written and has the best photos. So please get back on the road as soon as you can so that I can stave off boredom at work by living vicariously through you.
Noodle!! came over from fatty’s site, so sorry to hear about this. We are all thinking of you lass. Hang in there.
Noodle….get well soon. It’s okay to be weepy. This was a tough one girlfriend! Continue to breath and take good care of yourself. You will be back on the road and finish what you started. You are Not a Failure!!!!!!!! You are an ispiration. It was because of your “100 miles to Nowhere” video that got me to sign up this year. I did it and it was because of your spirit.
Steve 'Clydesteve' Peterson
Noodle – Don’t be embarassed, girl – just heal. Best wishes, Friend of Fatty!
Who Moved My Cheese?
So glad to hear that you’ll be okay. Wow! Unconscious in a ditch somewhere with broken bones ~ I sure am glad it wasn’t worse and that you’re on the path to recovery.
Don’t you dare call yourself a failure, though! You’re a success, in my book. Dealing with a genuine emergency with genuine emotion is healthy. Facing hardship with the will to heal and overcome – why that, my friend, is admirable. Going TransAmerica is significant not just for going the length ~ it’s significant because you’ve raised money for cancer research and you’re overcoming obstacles. So, pat yourself on the back. And take good care of yourself. The road will still be there when you’re ready to get back to it.
I am so sorry for your crash and your upset. I know you are determined and you’ll get back on track when possible. In the meantime though, give yourself some credit for being an AMAZING fundraiser, an inspiration to the rest of us for all that you do and your great blog, and like others have said, the road awaits, when you’re ready.
Fatty sent me here. Glad he did. You are a trooper and a good read. Heal up, your bikes need you.
HOLY COW!! I’m glad your OK!! What a way to get donations for your Livestrong page. 🙂 Take care another fellow Friend of Fatty
I’ve been out of commission pretty much all day with doctor visits and discovering the joy of the American health care system. It has been awesome to sit here and read all these comments.
They truly have lifted my spirits, and they are pretty low right now. 🙂
As a fellow tourer, let me say: I’m happy to hear you’re not letting this setback stop you. You’re not a failure, though I understand why you’re feeling that way now. I’m fortunate that I haven’t gotten into a bad accident, but it can happen to any of us any day. Heal fast, and good luck with continuing your trek!
Janeen, You were kind enough to encourage me after my crash last summer. You said: “Mate, look after yourself. Glad you’re ok.”
I’m sorry circumstances have come about where I return the encouragement and so I say… Mate, keep your chin up. You are here. Recover quickly.
Am so sorry about your crash, but wow girl, good on you for starting the journey in the first place! There are not many people that willingly leave their comfort zones!
I too am a transplant who arrived on a wing and a prayer some 13 years back ~ South African. Have you read any of the Metal Cowboy books ~ Joe Kurmaskie? He travels all over on his bike…sometimes with 3 sons under 6 and his long suffering wife!!:-) Also books by Paul Reese ~ Old man series. He ran across the USA at 76yrs old, again at 78 and 80! Blows the mind & both guys are truly inspirational…and can be read with one hand while you recover!!:-)
When you get to Oregon, maybe head a little North & come visit Seattle. Plenty of room for you to hang out at our house & see the sights.
Get well soon!!
I learned about you on Fatty’s blog.
I truly hope you will be fine and get back riding – the forces of the Universe will work with you coz you did a lot for others.
We’re all sending good vibes towards you. Please pick them up. 🙂
Elcyclista / Conor
I just read this and absolutely feel for you. A few years back I managed to put myself through the back window of a car and at last count we had 212 stitches in my face – even with that I was planning my replacement bike. The mess will clean up and the body will heal. Your positivity will help you heal you even quicker. Get back out there as soon as you can, this is a wonderful sport and you have a lot of people behind you. Keep riding.
Life has always been pulling us down since birth (it’s called gravity), but we fight through it and learn to stand, until we’re painfully reminded that we’re still being pulled down.
However, remember that you’re not standing (balancing) on your own two feet (or wheels), but you have a wealth of people fighting against gravity with you!
Many prayers for your wrist and Precious.
I’m so sorry to hear about your accident!
Hope you are able to heal and rest before continuing on your journey.
I wish your adventure did not get off to such a painful start. Please get well soon.
So sorry to hear of your crash…day four!?!?!? A big WTF on that!
I hope you left that grouchy malcontent, Zimmerman, back there in the ditch!
Get well so you can get back out there!
I am so sorry to hear of your trials. Fatty posted about your crash and I just had to read about it for myself. Get well soon so you can continue your quest.
good heavens! feel better soon. sounds to me like you’re experiencing an unanticipated schedule change, which is completely different than failure. best wishes!
Janeen. What a shit thing to happen, but what a great way to start the story. I’m riveted. I’m looking forward to reading this book.
I wish you a speedy recovery and hope you can finish this journey soon. I look forward to following your thoughts later on.
I’m so sorry to hear about your accident. You haven’t failed in our minds what you’re doing is very heroic. Best wishes from Austin Texas. I hope everything heals quickly and Ride On!
Wow. What a bummer…for now. Once you get to Astoria it will be just another chapter in a grand adventure. Hang in there, you’ll be back on the road sooner than you think! Another FoF (Friend of Fatty).
You’re another one of those awesome people out there that show me that people can do anything they put their minds to. You’re unbelievably awesome. The bomb. x2.
I hope you heal quickly, and are back on the road soon. I wish I could be out there with you.
Just getting caught up on your trek now. Ugh. For what it’s worth there are a lot of people out there that find cuts and bruises kinda hot. Not me of course. I’m just sayin there’s a lot of people that see your planning and effort end up with a hospital visit instead of the planned success are still kinda impressed.
Amanda and I are just happy that you are healing and safe. Think about it, things could have been a LOT worse…
We’re looking FWD to buying you a beer and even a place to stay when you make it to San Francisco…
You’ll be back on the road in no time!
Amanda and I are just happy that you are healing and safe. Think about it, things could have been a LOT worse…
We’re looking FWD to buying you a beer, and even offer a place to stay when you make it to San Francisco…
You’ll be back on the road in no time!