Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Have to Try

It’s now four weeks and a day since I had my accident. At exactly six weeks I’m going to try again. I have to. I know it won’t work next summer and therefore may never work again. Prior to last week, I thought the ride was over, never to be completed. Then last Wednesday morning I woke up feeling quite good. It occurred to me there is a window of opportunity to complete the ride yet this summer and early fall. I woke Mary up and told her my desire, hoping that she was still willing. Other than being overwhelmed with my sudden idea and informing her first thing in the morning, she was and is fully willing to try again. She wanted to know that my physician would approve, and I wanted my boss, Scott’s full support. Yesterday my physician gave his approval. Last week Scott new what I was thinking and was supportive, but he didn’t know I had medical approval. So even though he’s on vacation this week, yesterday I called him. I had to know what he thought. He’s fully supportive! Thanks Scott!

Physically, my bones will be barely healed. I’ll probably have some and maybe quite a bit of pain. Fortunately, my physician decided that I won’t be on a blood thinner this time. Because I’ll be exercising so much, I can manage my blood clotting disorder with just an aspirin. This means I’ll be able to take ibuprofen for pain management. According to my physician, if I can tolerate the pain at the beginning of the ride, it should lesson significantly over the first few weeks. This also means I’ll have to start with some shorter days. I’ll try a few small rides over the next two weeks and I’ll spend some time on my resistance trainer, but I can’t train very hard as my bones are still healing and I don’t want to over stress them.

In spite of the accident, other than scraping and breaking the plastic covers of my shift levers, tearing the handle bar tape and my saddle, my bike’s in great shape. Marty my bike mechanic can’t believe there wasn’t more damage to it. I picked it up yesterday and went for a four block ride. I was worried the riding position would cause a stabbing pain in one of my broken bones. Thankfully it felt very comfortable. I think this just might work!
Last Saturday we were visiting our friends Larry and Linda. Larry’s also a physician. He knew my desire and that I was waiting for final approval from my personal physician. He was very concerned, worrying that I’m not waiting long enough and that I won’t have healed enough. After greeting us at the door, while still in the foyer, the first thing he did was examine my clavicle, pressing on it, gauging how much pain I could tolerate. It really didn’t hurt and he did stop after he made it shift. Because he cares and is concerned he tried to talk me into waiting 8 weeks instead of 6. As I told Larry, I would like to, but that means I would still on the rode in mid October and by then the days are getting shorter. Yesterday he called just to tell me he changed his opinion and he too thinks I should try it according to my plan. Thanks Larry!

When I was riding previously, I would often think
“Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.” At the time it was “when the sun’s shining down on me and world’s all as it should be.” Now I’m signing “Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering, when there’s pain in the offering, blessed be your name."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Going Home

I was released from the Lander hospital yesterday. Last night we drove to Kimball, Nebraska and took a room at a Motel 8. After leaving the hospital, we drove back past the accident scene and there is no apparent reason for this accident. The paved road shoulder looked identical to paved road shoulder I had been biking on for hundreds of miles. As far as I can tell there's no mechanical failure with my bike that would cause the accident. I called a doctor friend and asked if I could have passed out, causing the accident. He said this was highly unlikely. The only logical explanation left is that I either hit or swerved to avoid a small creature on the road. I'll never know.

As long as I take my pain medication regularly, I feel decent. Each day is better than the last.
I don't yet know when or if I'll resume the ride. It's too soon to sort this out.

Here's the "It could have been worse" story. I had to wait before I was treated in the emergency room. Just after I arrived a one month old baby was brought in not breathing. The physicians weren't able to resuscitate the infant. I'll never forget the keening sobs of the mother.

Thanks for all of your prayers, emails and phone calls. Mary and both appreciate the support.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I Don't Remember What Happened

Sometime on the morning of July 4, while riding about 10 – 12 miles southeast of Dubois, I flipped off my bike. I don’t remember it at all. I remember thinking that I was looking forward to several days of long rides on rolling hills. I was looking forward to returning to the Midwest. The next thing I remember is regaining consciousness in an ambulance. My left shoulder hurt and the back of my neck hurt due to the tape being used to stabilize my neck. I had no idea of the extent or seriousness of my injuries. I have four fractures/broken ribs on my left side just below the clavicle. My left clavicle is broken with a jagged edge. The worst is a pneumothorax. This is a small puncture of the lining of my lung by the broken clavicle. Air has seeped into the base of sack below my lung. This can cause pneumonia, but that danger is passed. I’m waiting for the doctor to make rounds today. I may be released.

I have no memory of what happened. I’ve hit rumble strips before. They’re jarring but not dangerous. Whatever happened, happened so fast that I didn’t put my hands out to catch myself. My wrists aren’t broken and there is no cutting or bruising on the palms of my hands. I hit and broke my helmet first (bruising my right ear, which is purple) and then hit with my left shoulder. I also scraped the back of my left hand and my right knee. Someone called 911. Mary visited with the Sheriff who responded. The next thing I remember is being strapped into the ambulance. Other than when I’m on morphine, I’ve been lucid ever since.

Although I have yet to see it, Mary reports the bike is fine. The two layers of handle bar tape and the seat are scraped and gouged. I’m guessing this happened after I flipped off.

What’s next? After the doctor releases me, we’re taking a couple days to get home. Will I ever complete the ride? It’s too soon to know. I successfully made it through the most challenging third. I know I can bike the rest. It takes quite a bit of work to achieve this level of fitness and to plan for the ride itself.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and words of encouragement. I wish I knew what happened, but I don’t and I probably never will.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Please pray for Cal.

Hello everyone,

This is Cal's son, Jeff Meuzelaar. I have recently been informed that my dad (Cal Meuzelaar) has crashed and is in the hospital in Wyoming. He has broken a few ribs, clavicle, and messed up his shoulder. Thank the Lord he was wearing a helmet and it was not worse. He does not remember anything from the accident.

Please keep him in his prayers as this is a very difficult time for not only Cal, but also for his family. More than the injuries, I'm sure what hurts the most is the disappointment of now being unable to fulfill his lifelong dream. The ride is over and Cal and Mary will be returning to Pella as soon as Cal is release from the hospital.


Jeff Meuzelaar

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Final Mountain Pass

I am saturated with mountains. I am satiated with mountains. I don’t think I could do justice to the beauty of another mountain. Here are two pictures from the Grand Tetons.

I also don’t want to climb to another mountain pass for quite some time. Today at the end of an 85 mile day I climbed to 9,658 feet and the Togwotee Pass. Looking back from the top, the truck warning sign said “6% grade for the next 17 miles.” This wasn’t quite true. There was a valley in the middle of the climb, but it was a lot of climbing. There was a 6% grade 6 mile drop hen we drove into the Columbia River Valley. At the time I wondered if I could complete a climb like that one. I’ve been dreading this particular climb for the last several days. I let my attitude slip by pushing 110 miles from Wendover to Dillon. That was fine, but then from Dillon to Cameron instead of enjoying the moment and stopping for some ice cream, I pushed it and my legs became tired. After a rest day and climbing two passes in Yellowstone I had planned to take another short day today and tackle the Togwotee Pass tomorrow, but then I woke up this morning and told Mary it was time for a change of attitude, enjoy the moment, and make the climb. What a sense of accomplishment. Today I felt support by prayer. Thank you everyone.

Happy Birthday Mary!!!

Happy Birthday, July 3 to the love of my life and the person without whom I couldn't begin much less complete this bike tour.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Today I biked 50 miles into Yellowstone, crossing the continental divide twice at 8,261 feet and 8,391 feet. The new back tire stayed on the rim and tube held air which is always good news when descending from the divide at 30-35 mph.

We’re staying at Grant Village. The aroma of pine trees is everywhere. When we go to bed tonight I think we’ll have a very nice pine rest.

We were last here in 1995, seven years after the 1988 forest fires. In 1995 the ground still looked barren. The lodge pole pines were already growing then but you really couldn’t see them. Now almost all the burned forest is thickly covered with lodge pole pine trees from 4 to 12 feet tall. It’s amazing how the forest reseeded itself and is growing vigorously. I've attached a few pictures from Yellowstone.

In addition to the bluebird, today I saw an osprey in the Madison River. It was floating downstream with its wings spread. Every so often it would make a mighty attempt to fly, powerfully beating its’ wings against the water. Each time its’ body cleared the water, but not its’ feet. It floated past me so I quickly turned around and biked back downhill to learn the outcome of this dilemma. The osprey then changed its’ plans. It flopped around until it faced upstream then it again attempted lift off. This time it was quickly successful, pulling itself out of the water along with the trout it had been holding in its’ talons the entire time. The bird was clearly water logged. It slowly flew just above the river with water dripping from its’ wings. Then it veered over the highway, gaining altitude. Finally it turned back downstream, flying past me to some landing place where it could enjoy its hard fought catch.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Yellowstone Rest Day

Today Mary and I toured Yellowstone looking at geysers, fumorals and mud pots. Many people were creating traffic jams while taking pictures of very lazy bison. I'll let Mary work her magic and publish a few of the pictures we took.

The rear bike tire has been replaced. I'm looking forward to riding again tomorrow when I cross the continental divide for the second and third time on this trip. I think I cross it twice more. Several people have asked when we will arrive in Des Moines and, Pella Iowa and in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I should have a good timeline in place by next Monday. Before I can give an answer, I need a few days of steady riding on the plains without any mountain passes, summits or the 7% grades that were neither a summit or a pass. Out of 16 days bicycling, all but three have had a challenging climb at the beginning, middle or end or some combination of all three.

West Yellowstone

What a difference one day can make. Yesterday I biked 60 miles in three hours, today it was only 30, but I totalled 60. Headwinds that motorists don’t notice can make that much of a difference. The beauty of having our own schedule is that we can change it. According to the maps I could bike about 115 miles into Yellowstone or stay and camp on the edge. Mary and I decided to make it a short 60 mile day. We had some extra time so I put my bike in the van and we drove to Old Faithful. That was the easiest way to arrange the picture you see. While waiting for Old Faithful I examined my bike tires. I discovered the back tire had a three sided rectangular gash on the riding surface. I can peel it back and expose the Kevlar band that protects the inner tube. Needless to say I’ll be replacing the tire tomorrow.

We’re camping at the Baker’s Hole USFS camp ground. There are grizzly bear warnings everywhere. Mary hopes to see one. I plan to take tomorrow off and we will explore geyser’s and paint pots. Then it will be a short biking day to Grant Village in the park. I’ll climb a mountain on two of the next three days. From there we’ll be in the rolling hills of central and eastern Wyoming and on to Nebraska.

There was beautiful scenery again today. The water is Lake Hebgen on the west. The abandoned pioneer buildings are to the east of the Lake. I’ve also attached a picture of cattle. These are Black Angus cows and calves being sorted. The calves will now go to a feed lot. You could here both the cows and calves calling to each other. Both of my brothers and I have done the very same task while growing up and working in Kansas.

The pine trees are releasing their pollen. A gust of wind hits a tree and it’s like shaking yellow dust from a duster. Everything is covered with yellow. There was a small shower and the parking lot rivulets ran yellow. The attached picture isn’t rain or dust, its pollen.

Trout fishing is very popular right now. Men and women are in all the streams. I suppose the proper phrase is fisher persons. Mary and I decided to market a toy and call them Fisher Price Fishing Persons.