Descenders Ride Report-Lake Wohlford and Couser Canyon

Hi Guys,

It was a perfect day to be riding; sunny and warming with low winds.  We had a large group of 15 riders in what should have been an epic ride.  It started well but on the descent of Couser things went awry; more on that later in the report.  We all met at the mall and headed for the Lake Wohlford climb.  Eric and Lisa were there; although Lisa made just a cameo appearance.  They are training for the Flying Pig marathon in Cincinnati so Lisa went off on her own for an easy ride since today was a hard run day.  Eric rode with us.  Jeff S brought along a new rider and friend of his from Pfizer.  Eileen is a super strong rider and we hope she can join us again soon.  

The group was mostly together for the start of the Lake Wohlford climb and we regrouped at the lake.  The pace to Woods Valley was brisk and we again regrouped before the sprint.  Cresap, Sheehan, Guido and I took to the point early but then the real horses came through at 33 mph.  We were flying in a large group towards Valley Center, it was a sprint finish that either Keith, Matt or Bernie won; I was too far back to see for sure.  We started to lose our group at this point.  Farkas and Bob R headed left back towards Escondido while the rest of the group went towards Lilac.  We kept up a nice pace and at the West Lilac turn Eric and Sheehan bugged out while the majority of the group went towards Couser.  

The climb up Couser Canyon is not long but it will burn the legs at bit, especially given the early 20+ miles of the ride.  Bernie flew by me early in the climb and hit the top first.  We regrouped and readied for the smooth and curvy descent of Couser.  Things started well and I was near the back watching the group snake along the curves.  As I cruised around a tight left turn, I spotted Bernie in the road picking up his bike.  The torn jersey and bibs caused me to hit the brakes hard to stop.  Guys were well down the hill stopping and turning back around.  I got to Bernie first as he mumbled about a flat tire and he started to take off his front wheel.  His left shoulder was a mess, as were his left elbow, fingers and left leg.  It brought back a flash of memories from my Banner Grade fall only he looked much worse.  I took the bike away from Bernie and more guys came to help.  There was lots of blood dropping off the bike and wheel, Bernie was in bad shape.  We were out in the middle of no where trying to quickly assess Bernie, his bike and our options.  Bernie was super strong and dealt with the obvious pain like a real trooper.  We lost Jeff C and Dan S as they were too far ahead on the descent to understand the extent of our problems.

The group moved down the road 30 yards, off the curve to a side road and started to fix the bike and Bernie.  Rick brought out a latex glove and provided a bit of needed levity by asking Bernie to bend over.  Bernie used a dollar bill from his pocket to stop the bleeding fingers and then pulled on the latex gloves for more protection.  We changed the tire while Bernie tried to call a cab.  Cell service was spotty and no cab service could find us.  Plan B was to try to fix the bike and Bernie enough to coast down to Highway 76.  We knew he busted up his shoulder and hoped he could ride down the hill safely.  My first tire fix failed so we had to stop to replace the tube again.  Jeff S and I rode ahead to call a cab, we had no luck either.  The group, with Bernie, finally made it down to the intersection of Couser and 76 with Bernie reaching his wife for a needed rescue ride to the emergency care facility.  Rick stayed with Bernie while the remaining riders headed west towards Old 395.

There were only 6 of us left–Guido, Matt, Keith, Jeff S, Eileen and me.  The terrible turn of events took away from the beauty of the ride but we had almost 25 miles in front of us to get back to the start.  The winds picked up a bit and the trudge up and down Old 395 is not our favorite route.  I am in search of return route alternatives to our Lake Wohlford, Couser, Rice Canyon future climbs.  The route committee is on point to find a more scenic route home.  We stopped at the camp ground for needed water and rode up towards Jesmond Dene Road.  This road is a nice shaded descent that we took fairly quickly.  Jeff S and Eileen were headed back to Stone Brewery so we all rode down Broadway into Escondido.  They turned off at Washington while the last 4 of us headed back to the mall.  Cresap and Dan S took a circuitous route back and we caught up with them at the cars.  We rode 54 miles with 4,000 feet of climbing.

It should have been an epic ride; it was definitely a memorable ride.  Bernie has communicated that the diagnosis is a “mid-shaft clavicle displaced fracture” with treatment of a sling and traction.  He did not mention his elbow, fingers or legs; all were severely injured.  We hope he heals quickly and is back on the bike soon.

Here are a few photos.

Ride safe-

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