4 unexpected biking lessons with my girlfriend!

Hi, Girlfriends.    

Accidents can happen so quickly!

Last Sunday was a beautiful day here in Tucson, Arizona.  John and I had just finished eating lunch and I decided to take a spin on my mountain bike around The Voyager RV resort.  My girlfriend Kathi (who is parked right next to us) was available to ride along so we headed out onto the street together. 

We rode side by side around the resort chatting away about all those things that girlfriends talk about when they have a half hour bike ride ahead of them.  Mind you, the two of us had done this ride at least a dozen times.  We began our usual route taking the streets on the outermost loop of The Voyager.  

Without warning

There we were.  Pedaling along without a care in the world.  About 10 minutes into our ride we made the usual left turn onto 18th Street which is a long straight stretch about 1/3 mile long.  At this point, Kathi slowed a bit and tucked behind me since a car was approaching from the opposite direction nearly 4 blocks in front of us.   

All of a sudden I felt a thunk on my back tire.  Before I knew it, my bike was falling down. 

We were probably only going 8 miles an hour and I easily side hopped off of my bike in order to avoid falling to the ground. 

But here’s the thing.  It’s weird what goes through your mind at a time like this. 

In that split second, I thought it odd that Kathi had not shouted any warning like “Oh crap, I’m falling” or “Watch out, I’m going to run into you”. 

As I’m thinking all this, my peripheral vision saw her on the ground- still straddling her bike. Arm flung over her head.    

Busted, literally!

Bad us.

Kathi and I never wore helmets when biking inside the RV resort.  Ugh.  And now I was staring at my girlfriend lying in the street with a head injury!  

I quickly knelt beside her.  She did not respond when I called her name!  She had hit her head on the asphalt and blood was beginning to pool under her head. 

My years of nursing training kicked into gear.

The longest 30 seconds ever

Again, I called her name.  Again she did not respond to my voice.  I noted her breathing was labored.  Her eyes were rolled back.  Her glasses and hearing aides had flown off and were a couple feet to our left. Her left leg was twisted and caught under her bike.  

I grabbed my phone from my bike basket and called 911.  At the same time, a neighbor stuck her head out her door.  I requested wet washcloths and a towel to place under Kathi’s head.  Two people in a golf cart drove up and asked what they could do.  I told them to call the guard gate and inform security. 

After about 30 seconds, Kathi started moving her arms and moaning. 

I was so relieved! 

Keeping calm

She instinctively reached for the back of her head and attempted to raise it off the ground.  Her hand came away covered in her blood.  

As I wiped her hand I began assessing her neuro status. Her pulse was steady but weak, her breathing was now regular.  I continued with; “What is your name?” “Please squeeze my hand” “Stick out your tongue for me”  “Can you smile for me?” “Wiggle your feet” “What day of the week is it?”  “Where are you?”    

Kathi was able to follow my directions but failed the last two questions.  She had no idea where she was or what day of the week it was.  

Meanwhile, a crowd had gathered around us there in the middle of the street.  Several people told me to move her to the side of the road.  Without taking my eyes off of Kathi, I stated. 

Nope.  She is NOT moving.  She is going to stay right here until EMS arrives.   

“What about Lilac?”

As I shaded Kathi’s face she began to talk and ask questions.  “What happened?” “Do I really need to go to the hospital?” “Lilac needs to go inside my camper”.  “This is so embarrassing!”  I and the crowd reassured her as we waited for EMS.  

I called John my husband.  He put Kathi’s cat inside her coach, grab Kathi’s purse, bringing our blood pressure cuff, and my purse.  

It only took him 5 minutes to arrive in our Jeep.  Kathi’s blood pressure was high.  I felt better having John with me!

6 more men to help 

EMS arrived in about 15 minutes and quickly took over the scene.  The team leader asked me dozens of questions as the other 5 assessed Kathi’s condition.  

The drive to the trauma unit of Banner Health Care took 25 minutes.  I was grateful to ride along in the ambulance.  Sitting shotgun up front with the driver I listened as the paramedics cared for Kathi in the rear.  I was impressed with their focused attention; continually assessing Kathi’s level of consciousness and her vitals. 

Impresssive trauma unit 

I walked behind the paramedics as they wheeled Kathi into trauma room #3.  

There to greet her were 9 trauma team members.   Yes, 9! 

What followed was like watching a choreographed dance team.

Each person had their assigned duties and position.  Within 2 minutes they had Kathi on IV fluids, monitors, all tests ordered and fully assessed. 

From the outside looking in

I stood outside the room watching.  Suddenly I was approached by the trauma unit social worker and chaplain.  They stared into my eyes asking questions with such concern for Kathi that I burst into tears.  Apologizing for my emotional reaction I attempted to describe the relief I felt watching my friend being attended to.  Their response was simply to hug me, which naturally caused me to cry some more!

By 6 p.m. a room was ready for Kathi.  She had sustained a concussion and luckily her CT scan was negative for additional trauma.  We helped her get settled then headed back to The Voyager to check on her cat and close her windows for the night.  

The next day I spoke to Kathi’s nurse on the phone to see when discharge papers would be ready.  John and I drove down to Banner medical center and brought Kathi home around 3 pm.  What a relief she felt!  

It’s a week later and we’ve kept a very close eye on my dear friend.  It is a pleasure to see her feeling better with each passing day.  

Lessons learned

  1.  Helmets.  We will now ALWAYS wear helmets, even if we are simply biking three blocks to check our mailbox.  Remember, your head doesn’t know the difference between a fall at 8 mph or 50 mph.  Please learn from my stupidity!  Begin 2019 by wearing a bike helmet or order one below.  Your head is worth protecting!  
  2. Education.  I’m sharing this story so you won’t experience what Kathi and I went through. Please spread the word
  3. Eat food before biking.  We are still not sure what made Kathi fall off her bike last week.  She cannot remember if she lost her balance after feeling dizzy, or if she got distracted by something causing her to wobble and fall.  What we do know is that she had not eaten yet and that might have been the cause for her lightheadedness. 
  4. Listen to a friend’s knowledgeable advice.  I was grateful Kathi was not alone when she fell.  I’m also thankful she listened to me when I insisted she receive an evaluation at the hospital.  It wasn’t until arriving at the trauma unit that she recognized her symptoms were serious.     
  5. It’s important to replace your bike helmets about every three years. Did you know that there is new helmet technology that addresses “concussion-mitigation”?  Read about it here.  

How about your story?

Now that you’ve heard my biking boo-boo do you have one to share?  

What other advice do you have to share that would be helpful to us all?

Do you wear a helmet when biking?  If not, why not?  Will you order one in the links below?  

Wishing you all a safe and adventurous 2019!

Your unlikely RVer,


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10 thoughts on “4 unexpected biking lessons with my girlfriend!

  1. Had a similar experience while on an RV trip in the outbacks of upstate NY. Unfortunately, I was the one who bumped the bike in front of me on a deserted road, perfectly flat – no bumps, ruts or debris. I had just declared aloud that this was the best day ever – we had pristine conditions – perfect weather, smooth riding, no vehicular traffic – sublime. I became distracted by the eagle flying overhead, causing me to nearly hit my sweetie, Jim, who had been way ahead of me but had slowed down while I was ‘lallygagging’. Thank God for my helmet as it protected my head. Too bad I didn’t have hockey pants on my hips, however, as I fractured my pelvis. That was a very painful way to end the trip that had just started 3 days before. I soared over the handle bars and through the air with not much grace but plenty of ease, landing with a thud on my cell phone safely tucked in my back jeans pocket. I thought I could pretend to be ok and just looking at the clouds, but my partner knew better. After a few failed attempts to get up and back on my bike, which also was injured, I resorted to simply staying put for a few minutes – thinking ‘this too will pass’. I’m sure it was quite a site – me prone on the warm asphalt on a late summer day. A good Samaritan stopped to see if all was well, one of 2 cars that passed in an hour, and I humbly admitted that I was injured and could use a lift back to our rig. Jim put our bikes in the woods and we gratefully accepted a ride (about 10 miles) back to the campground. Thought I could will the ache and pain away but in the morning I succumbed to reality and decided to get myself to a medical facility. After an x-ray, it was determined that I needed a CT scan and would need to be transported by ambulance to the local hospital for addition evaluation. In the middle of no-where, I might add. Best hospital ever. At the end of my 5 hours there, I was sent off to head home for rest and healing with a parting gift of a walker, gratis. Loved that walker….enabled me to move around a bit without agony. We made the 1100 mile 3 day trip home in 2 days due to a determined sweetie. I loved my handicapped accessible hotel room mid-way. The things you just don’t think about very often when you’re completely able. Oh – – that helmet, it’s on the wall as a reminder for caution as well as to give thanks – – it’s splintered in 2.

    • Oh my goodness, Renee! What a story. You had me sitting on the edge of my chair with anticipation (You should be a writer). I’m grateful that it all turned out ok. I laughed at the part where ” I soared over the handlebars and through the air with not much grace but plenty of ease” Funny now, but not then! I also appreciate how your helmet hangs on the wall, cracked as a reminder. Imagine what might have happened? Take care, and thank you for sharing your story! ~Gretty

  2. All good points, also be sure you have your cell phone with you. I now try to have it on me all the time. A few months ago while playing volleyball in the pool my friend got out to retrieve a ball, slipped on the wet cement and cracked her head. I did have my phone and called her hubby for support. You never know when you might need it.
    Glad nothing worse happened on your adventure. You and John are great to have around. Think of you often, very thankful that we met you and sing your praises often.

    • Hey, Donna! Always love seeing your National ___Days! Yes, having a phone is imperative these days. So glad you were there for your friend at the pool. Happy new year to you and Vance!

  3. Wow! That is quite the story. It could happen to anyone. Kathi is also lucky to have a smart friend with her because even if she had been wearing a helmet, whatever caused her to become lightheaded could have been more serious and many other injuries could have happened. You were good to her, you did the right things. In the moment it is hard to be the decision maker but you stepped up. You must have been very scared yourself. I’m sure Kathi is so thankful for you to be her neighbour and friend.

    • Hey, Denise. Happy New Year to you and Kory! Thank you for your comments. It’s funny you mentioned about Kathi’s lightheadedness because we still don’t know why she fell. As far as stepping up…that all relates to nursing training. When you are daily assessing medical issues and needing to adjust it comes as second nature. But afterward? You realize I did fall apart when it was all over!
      Sending my best to you for an amazing 2019 and hoping our paths cross sooner rather than later.

  4. This story hurts to read. I am so glad she is okay. I am very glad you were there with her. I too recently had a bike crash. Mountain bike in the desert. I always wear a helmet. I went over my handle bars and just about every part of my body including my helmet hit the rocks at the bottom of a wash. Recovery was like that of a car crash. You don’t have to be going very fast to sustain serious injury. Peace friend.

    • Oh, Micki. So sorry to hear of your recent bike crash. I cannot imagine how scary that must have been. Hoping your recovery is now complete. Your story, Judy’s and Kathi’s have convinced me to nor only wear a helet, but replace my 5 year-old helmut with a new one!

  5. I didn’t fall while riding a bike, but just before Thanksgiving I recently fell out of our Xterra which is a lot taller than our other vehicles. I was reaching for the door to close it and since I couldn’t get to it I step on a step by the door, the next thing I knew I was heading head first to the concrete. Busted my face and glasses and blood was all over my face. I hit so hard that there was a lot of pain in my neck and shoulders. Got in the house laid down, but the pain got worse, so I told Burton to call an ambulance, I think I’ve injured my spine. They were very focused on me and spent a lot of time checking everything out. When I got to the hospital the doctor was right in and ordered a c-scan. Luckily everything checked out, I I got to come home. My neck and nose still hurt.
    Lesson learned, always grab a hand hold before entering and exiting taller vehicles.

    • Oh,Judy…

      So sorry to hear about your accident! It can happen so quickly,right? I am glad Burton was home at the time to help you. Scary stuff. Lessons learned.
      Gee, does this mean we should wear helmets exiting our vehicles?

      Just kidding.

      Thanks for reading my blog and commenting. Happy New year!

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