Mussey Grade & Pamo Road Ride Report-23 April 2016
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Paul, Oleg, Guido, Bob P, Andrew, Cresap, Rob, John M, Eric R, Bernie and Tony
It started out as a small group ride and ended with a terrible bike crash for Tony. We all hope Tony recovers quickly and look forward to having him back out on his bike.
Bob and I met at the corner of Black Mountain and the 56 bike path. On our way to Spring Meadow we spotted Guido and Paul coming up behind us. We all rolled into the Spring Meadow cup-de-sac to see if Hodges was peaking his head out. No Hodges, saving up for BWR. We pedalled onto the 7-11 store to meet the rest of the riders. After a group photo, we rolled out and picked up John and Eric R before climbing to SPP. At the start of the SPP climb we lost Paul and John almost immediately. At the top of SPP, we waited for a bit and then decided to roll on. Bob P left us at Poway Grade, heading back to get Tracey to celebrate her birthday. We split some on the climb around Mount Woodson. Eric R was just out to loosen up the legs before the BWR so he kepting going and turned onto Archie Moore to descend HVR. We still had Oleg, Andrew, Cresap, Guido and me as we flew along 67 and turned onto Mussey Grade. I was tired just trying to hold the wheel of Oleg so I stayed in back for the entire descent of Mussey. It was a beauty morning and the views over the reservior were great.
We rested at the bottom for a few minutes before Bernie showed up. Tony showed up a few minutes later. He had slept in a bit and climbed up HVR to meet us. As we all started the climb back up Mussey, John M finally caught up with us. The group climbed back to 67, went to Dye Road and sped along to get into Ramona. We took a short water break before heading out to Pamo. The last of the photos I took that day show the group cruising to Pamo. Things got quickly out of control. Just before the start of the descent Tony sped out front, followed by Bernie, Oleg and then me. The others came just behind. It was on the second of the two early turns where the Tony crash happened. I was maybe 10 seconds behind Tony and just as I was hitting the off camber turn I looked left to see Tony curled up against the rock wall. Bernie was yelling, "Biker down, all stop." I repeated his biker down call and slowed as quickly as I could without hitting Bernie & Oleg or getting hit from behind by Cresap who went just to my left side. We all finally stopped and turned back to get Tony. Bernie and Guido immediately jumped into the ditch to try to help Tony. Bernie was yelling at him to see if he was conscious. Oleg had his phone out, trying to get cell service to call 911. Andrew started to pedal back up Pamo to get cell serivce. Oleg was able to get through on his phone and asked for an ambulance to help Tony on Pamo Road. It appeared that Tony was going too fast for the curvy road and could not make the left/right turn combination on that tight corner. He rode off into the ditch and wall on the left side, but not before locking up his brakes from the skid marks we saw.
I got Tony’s bike from the ditch and found his cell phone in the rear pouch. Oleg called Patrick to give him what we knew of the fall and asked him to call his mom, Diane, to give her the update. Cresap climbed back up Pamo to escort the ambulance if needed. John, Andrew and I stayed out of the way while Bernie and Guido were tending to Tony. We could now hear him moaning, so at least he was no long unconscious. They supported him until the firetrucks came. There are two Ramona fire trucks and an ambulance. The EMT guys put a neck brace on Tony and strapped him to a backboard. The plan was to helicopter him to Palomar Hospital. I put his bike and helmet into the fire truck and we gave Tony’s phone to one of the EMT’s in case Diane needed to reach them. Needless to say, we felt terrible for Tony and were all in kind of a state of shock that our friend could get hurt so quickly.
I had Tony’s glasses and Garmin so I decided to ride down the Ramona Grade and go over to his house to be sure Diane had been reached by Patrick. By the time I got to Tony’s house, no one was home so I left his glasses and Garmin on the front porch. I was pretty sure Diane was at the hospital by now. I pootled home past Lake Hodges and through 4S. It was a 71 mile ride, but I did not feel anything, just numbness from seeing Tony.
Diane has created a Caring Bridge web site for Tony to provide updates. He is still at Palomar in the ICU. We hope he recovers quickly and completely. Ride safe, I know I am going to use my brakes a bit more on the descents.