Bike Bang Up

Nina Siegel

Hello, and welcome to my stories of why it is imperative to sign up for every ride. Is it a pain given that you go on the same ride every week? Indeed. But if I had not clicked that form, I would not be covered by CRW’s third-party insurance and I’d be paying all the out-of-pocket medical costs for a recent spill. 


But I’m smiling for more reasons than that as I stand next to the flowers CRW sent as I begin to recover with a 10mm titanium plate and 9 screws in my left olecranon (elbow/ulna).


Nina is enjoying the flowers from her CRW friends, but wearing a cast on her arm.


This is the second time I’ve had an accident while leading a CRW ride. Both times I was covered by CRW insurance.


Both times were beautiful days for a ride. October 20, 2018: I was leading and on a flat section in Wayland—BANG! I have no idea what happened, but woke up in an ambulance at Newton-Wellesley Hospital with Barbara Jacobs, Bike Thursday Ride Coordinator with me. Barbara never left side and told the docs what happened and I am so grateful, because I was had no idea what occurred. It was never determined what caused my accident but the result was this: I fell over, hit my head, was unconscious for five minutes (riders clocked the time) and had a brain bleed in two places. CRW people stayed with me while I was on the ground and took care of my stuff; Barbara made sure my husband, Duane Roth, was contacted and stayed with me until he arrived. CRW insurance covered every penny of my out-of-pocket costs—just under $5,000. (Sadly, no insurance coverage replaced my two favorite bike jerseys, which were cut off.)


September 23, 2021: I’d been tapped to co-lead Bike Thursday with Amy Wilson and Brenda Barry. We were looking forward to a wonderful day as rain wasn’t in the cards until late afternoon; best buds were on the ride; picnic was all set with serious triple chocolate brownies and vegan/GF/DF lemon cookies I’d baked along with perfectly ripe peaches Amy brought.  In training for the Cranberry Harvest Century, I biked to the start with Judy Gertler and Phyllis Evan while Brenda brought all my goodies in her car. Oh yeah, we were ready for serious après-ride birthday party fun!


After the usual welcomes, route info, and safety speech at our typically fully subscribed ride, I led the first group out from North Bridge. We were riding a fabulous 13+ average speed for two thirds of the ride. Then the clouds started to spit, and soon the rain came down in earnest. We stopped under some trees, decided to shorten the ride and continued.  I swapped leader duty with Deb Caban, a Ride Leader, who knew the shortcut. As we remounted I reminded all about careful braking and leaving room between riders due to rain-slicked roads.


The rain was warm, so I didn’t mind it; I was determined to enjoy myself through the hopefully short rainfall but soon it was coming down in sheets and my glasses were full. 


Then it happened. I hit an invisible water-filled pothole because it matched the rain-slicked road! My bike came to a complete stop but I didn’t. I fell to my left, trying not to hit my head and face first on Westford Road or drop too far out into traffic (if there was any, though last I’d looked it was clear); I pulled my torso up and to the right (thank goodness for years of yoga) as I slammed the road with my left side first. Elbow and arm took the brunt, hip next, and then my head did hit and the wind knocked out of me. In 2 or 3 seconds John Caban, our sweep, also a Ride Leader, hit my rear wheel and I watched him fly over me. Could not believe it! John hit the road also but picked himself up with minimal scratches and checked on me in moments. Luckily I was conscious the entire time, knew something was wrong but not what.


A motorist called 911 while John called Deb, who was just ahead of us; she sent Jane Fallon, a new Ride Leader, nurse and also an absolutely perfect person in a crisis. She rode back and arrived in moments. Jane did triage while John contacted my husband. EMTs arrived and the hustle and bustle took over. During the time I was on the ground the second group came by, also taking the shortcut. By that time the rain had stopped. Jane came in the ambulance with me. Deb continued and took our group safely in, John stayed with the bikes and waited to be picked up.


The key points here are (1) while caring for the downed person, communicate with the group and (2) someone should go with your rider to the hospital.  If the injured person cannot ask just go with them. It will be done for you. Jane stayed with me until Duane arrived. An aside: I gave Jane my phone. In my first accident I had my phone and while I was out of it I emailed some blather to my family and upset the whole lot of them…do not do that!


The moral of the story: Accidents happen. You can’t always avoid them. Be extra cautious riding on wet roads and leave more space between riders than you think you need.  And sign up for all CRW rides so you are insured. 


And last, what happened to the third group? They had no rain and rode the whole route.


But equally important is our CRW Ride Leaders who took on more that day and made sure riders and bikes were where they needed to be and eventually most riders had a picnic and treats except for our vegan/GF/DF friends as the cookies were unlabeled. I won’t make that mistake again. I am very happy to ride with such a Club and call these folks friends.


See you on the roads in the spring but likely not in the rain.