Hwy 71 is a two lane mostly rural scenic highway that runs from the small town I live in all the way north (and south) to more metro areas. Hence it's quite a popular route for cyclists riding from Fayetteville all the way to my town and further. Problem is, it can be dangerous for cycling if you don't stick to the shoulder. There's a number of blind curves and though the speed limit is 55mph, most drivers exceed that. Pretty typical.
Now, I understand why cyclists with skinny tires may want to avoid the shoulder considering all the debris. So, all the time I see cyclists out in the highway lane. Fair enough....share the road, right? And, on long straight stretches, there's plenty of leeway to give one enough time to get out of upcoming traffic. Still there's a risk.
Well, over a week ago, my wife and I were driving north up Hwy 71 heading to the next town. As we were coming around one of the blind curves, we were suddenly surprised by a dude (ironically named Lance) spilled off his bike out in the middle of the road with his two buddies hurrying to his aid. I quickly pulled off the highway to get out and help. Lance could not get up. He was quivering like he was in definite shock and complaining about his legs and not being able to move them. We couldn't lift him. He was too big. To boot, none of us could get cell phone signals thinking maybe we should call for an ambulance or someone to come get him. Tricky, tricky! Sure enough, a car was heading up the road towards the scene with Lance still laying there. While the two buddies were attending to Lance, I flagged traffic and my wife continued trying to get a signal on the phone. Fortunately, this burly guy in his truck decided to pull over and help. With the two friends and this guy, they managed to help him up and out of the road to the grass while I managed any other vehicles.
Everything turned out well. Lance had merely hit a hip nerve when he fell (so he couldn't move his legs) and sustained some bloody scrapes. And, since we couldn't get signal on any phones, my wife and I made a space in our 4runner for him to lay down in the back seat and take him and his bike back to his vehicle in Fayetteville. We were going that way and his friends could continue their ride. Along the way, we all had some good conversation and he managed to recover enough to drive himself home. Yay! Happy ending. But, it really could've been worse.
Brothers and sisters.....be careful. Be safe and mindful of the environment/circumstances you're riding in. Stick to the shoulders if you really can. Many drivers talk on their cell phones, are prone to distraction, and/or are simply not paying attention to the fact they're driving......and even driving too fast. Conversely, circumstances may not allow even a good driver to respond adequately. Let's say you fall and, like Lance, can't get up. A driver may not see you until it's too late. The amount of road kill.....atleast on Hwy 71....is enough evidence. I know that's dramatic, but man....it's true.