Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It Happened in the Gallery

Day 362
Mustair to Zernez
Time: 4:29:00
Distance: 47.3 km
Avg Speed: 10.5 kph
Terrain: Alpine
Location: N 46° 42', E 10° 5' 60

If you ride a bicycle long enough you will crash. If you are Chris Kehmeier you will crash at least once a year.

It’s been almost two years since his last big crash. It involved a teeter-totter and some have you have probably seen the video. At the time it was a little bit scary and very funny. Unfortunately, today was not one bit funny. Fortunately, Chris is just fine. He has a bruised kneecap and some minor road rash.
And here’s the rest of the story…
After a very clear night we found frost on the grass this morning. The temperature read 34 degrees (farenheight) and we took our time getting out of our sleeping bags. After two mugs of warm liquids we were finally on the road around 10am. The route for the day would take us over two passes, one big and one not so big. The views all around us kept our minds off the slow speed we were traveling. I think Switzerland equals granny gear. The map we procured is detailed enough that it shows the percent grade of the passes in either direction. Today we started with a 10%, hoping to graduate to a 12% tomorrow. Our cadence was steady but slow and we made the pass right around 1pm. We decided to celebrate with hot dogs, french fries, and coffee. The views were spectacular and the hot food warmed us up.
For the descent we donned most of our warm clothes and glided down the other side of the Ofenpass. Ten kilometers flew by and we were soon pedaling up the second climb. At the summit we stopped to put on more layers again. We chatted about our plan for the day and then headed down. The next town was about seven kilometers away and a potential stopping point for the day. A few minutes down the road we had to navigate some construction zones with a small group of cars. Drivers are very courteous to cyclists here so everyone gave us a good amount of space.
As we passed through the last work zone Chris got ahead of me a bit. After the BOB Trailer incident I’ve always gone slower on descents. I rounded a corner to find a tunnel in front of me and thought “Chris probably won’t like this”. In the next second, I saw a group of cars stop suddenly and my first thought was that Chris went down. Sure enough, his bike was laying in the road. I didn’t see him at first, but as I continued I saw him run out to get his bike and drag it towards the shoulder. As I quickly got my bike out of the way, three people rushed up to us. I looked over at Chris trying to pull his bike and saw that the front wheel looked mangled. As people were asking him if we was ok, he was trying to explain to me that his front tire blew and it caused him to wreck. Luckily, some really nice people were there to help. The group in the second car behind Chris saw the entire scene unfold before them. They stopped and routed traffic around us while we figured out what to do. They then whisked our bikes into a van and shuttled us down to Zernez. They got us a room, took care of our bikes, and drove us to the doctor on call. We are so very thankful for their concern, kindness and generosity.
So, we’ll be in Zernez for a few nights. We’re pretty sure the bruises and swelling will be uncomfortable tomorrow – maybe even for a couple of days. We’ll take it slow from here and not worry about getting up that 12% grade tomorrow.
And the bike? The top tube has a dent and the front wheel is trashed. The dent is probably not an issue but I think we’ll be in the market for another new rim.

Thankful that Chris is ok,

PS – we learned that it wasn’t a tunnel, it was a gallery. It was open on one side.

1 comment:

JennSean said...

My heart is still beating fast...so thankful that Chris is OK!!! I send you my good thoughts and prayers everyday!!!