Several folks have asked "what happened?", so here it is!
It was a really beautiful start to the Cow Creek Country Classic Bike Ride. With a 7:30 am starting time, the weather was still pleasant. Rhonda went with me to ride the 19 mile course with our friend Jenny Vidrine, and my son TJ and friend Joe Vidrine were riding with me on the 36 mile course.
I've never felt better on my bike than I did at the beginning of this rally. TJ rides faster than Joe and I so he wasn't always right with us, but would allow us old guys to catch up from time to time, and I knew we'd see him at the rest stops. Joe and I have not known each other long, but had a lot to talk about...much about bikes, but other stuff, too. The first ten miles seemed to fly by...very few hills to climb, and the wind was mostly at our backs.
Just as we left the 10 mile rest stop, I got a flat on my rear tire. (Of course it was the rear tire, it's ALWAYS the rear tire!) While I was fumbling around wasting two co2 cartridges, some guys from Mad Duck Sports stopped and repaired it. Bicycle shops are represented at almost all of the rallies, and what a great assistance they are. I was back on the road in no time!
The next 10 miles had more hills and was more into the wind, but I still felt GREAT! Maybe it was the nice conversation with Joe that made this ride seem so easy, but it really was never a struggle, until....
At 19 miles we passed a bike car wash, and I thought maybe it was also our next rest stop, but there were not a lot of bikes there, so we rolled on by. Sometime during the next mile I began experiencing some chest discomfort. I felt like if I could rest for just a few minutes, it would pass (it has always done so before), but we still needed to make it to the next rest stop. The discomfort was bad enough that I began to get concerned that the car wash had actually been a rest stop, so there would not be another one until another 10 miles passed. I told Joe that I needed to stop so I could check the map, so we rode on to the top of the next hill and pulled off the road.
Neither Joe nor I will ever be known as cartographers. I'm still not sure where we were, but Joe was pretty sure the next rest stop was close, so we pressed on. It was only about a mile or so to the next rest stop, but it was a long way for me, The "discomfort" in my chest was moving towards "pain". When we got to the rest stop (it was about 12 miles from the previous one), rather than head straight for the water and sports drink as I usually do, I laid down in the first shade I could find. It was the shade of the port-a-potties, but still shade!
Joe had told TJ that I was not feeling well, and when TJ checked on me, the pain was going through my chest to my back. I have never failed to finished a ride like this, and it was a hard decision to make, but after TJ gave me some Gatorade, I told him to let Joe know that I was gong to SAG on to the finish, and TJ loaded my bike in the back of the SAG truck.
I actually felt bad about dropping out. I figured that after I was in the truck for a few minutes, the pain would subside, and I would regret my decision. I REALLY like to ride my bike. The pain did not subside, and actually intensified, so I had Rob Cagle, the SAG driver, take me to the hospital ER.
A LOT of stuff happened there, but in summary, there was an elephant on my chest that needed to get off! They asked me on a scale of 1-10 how intense the pain was, and I chose "8" most of the time. I figured it was at least two steps short of having a baby.
It seemed like a long time before the pain subsided, but probably was a lot less time than it seemed to me. I had three nitroglycerin pills, one aspirin, three shots of morphine (gotta love that stuff) plus some other stuff that I don't know what was. Eventually, they gave me the "clot buster" and it worked., By the time the helicopter came to fly me to Baylor Hospital in Dallas, the pain was gone.
It only takes 10 minutes to get to Dallas by helicopter, and since I was feeling okay, I looked out the window like a tourist. The flight was smooth with very little turbulence, so aside from being strapped to a gurney, I enjoyed it.
I can not say enough about the care I got at Baylor Waxahachie and from the care flight team. I thank God for them.
I also have to thank my beautiful wife, Rhonda for the strength and encouragement she gave while I was in the ER, and TJ for "riding like the wind" to get to he hospital. He got the call that I was in the ER and was probably 7 miles away. He looked for a SAG vehicle to carry him, but there wasn't one, so he raced to the hospital on the big chain ring and little sprocket all the way! You'd have to be a cyclist to know what that means, but it means a LOT to me. Some other riders were following him, thinking he was just racing for the finish line...he had to stop and tell them he was headed for the hospital. Sure hope those guys aren't still lost in Waxahachie.
I can't say enough about how our friends Joe and Jenny dropped everything to help us out. They took care of Rhonda and the bikes, plus got the prayers started for me.
I had not been in my hospital room 5 minutes before Doug and Pam Stokes arrived, and soon after, my room was overflowing with friends and family. My prognosis is good...I'll have a heart catheter on Monday to check it out, but I don't expect them to find anything. Thanks to all of the professionals, friends and family, I'll be back on the bike in no time. Thank you all for your continued prayers.