2020 week thirty two

Photo by Mike Martin

Today is Thursday, August 6. The Canucks just won game three of the prelim against the Wild. I’m typing this from home.

ICYMI – On Monday morning I set out to complete my first “century” on my bike, pedalling 54 KM from my West End apartment to Britannia Beach and back. It all went sideways on the way back when I was hit by a negligent pickup truck driver a bit south of Furry Creek.

Monday – The ride out was uneventful. I’d never been farther north than the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay before, but I’m connected with many people on Strava who have. I see why it’s a popular ride; the route is beautiful. I reached Britannia in a little under two hours and stopped at the north end for a snack and took a couple photos. Gave a wave to a peloton heading farther north, and waited on a cyclist coming down the hill into Britannia heading south, then pulled behind him. I followed for a few kilometres and then took the lead after the descent through Furry Creek. We exchanged some small talk, he happy to get pulled along for a bit and me happy to take my turn. A few kilometres down I hear him shout out and in the same instant I was hit from behind on my head and back. The impact threw me and my bike from the shoulder into the lane and I couldn’t recover. Fortunately my shoes unclipped from my pedals. I took the brunt of the impact on the asphalt on my right side and shoulder and came to rest on my back. Quickly there were a few people at me who identified as off-duty responders and at least one doctor. They isolated my head and spine and rolled me into recovery position. I asked someone to find and turn off my watch. (Of course I did….) I was sure that my clavicle was broken (I’d broken it before). I could move my arms and legs and feel everything and sure didn’t want to. I was having a lot of difficulty breathing, which was really frightening. Fire arrived first and paramedics next. Stretchered and braced my neck and gave me oxygen, they cut off my shorts and put on a pelvic sling. RCMP said he would take my bike to Squamish. I replied that wasn’t very helpful. Someone remarked it was in pretty good shape considering. I haven’t seen it yet; it’s still in Squamish. I was transported lights-and-sirens (a first) to Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.

They cut off what was left of my kit, bandaged my knees and elbows, hands, side, shoulders, gave me a CT Scan and X-rays. Right hand sure looks broken and they thought it was, but it’s not. Clavicle, scapula and ribs one through eight on my right side all are broken. The rib fracture punctured my lung but not badly; they opted to monitor rather than intubate or chest tube. I have a bit of a lump on my head, but it’s otherwise fine. My helmet mashed my sunglasses into my nose. They’re destroyed, but although my nose looks ghastly it’s fine. Got a nice asphalt tattoo on my face by my eye. At this time I still don’t know what really happened. Stephanie arrives and she’s brought me some things because I’m not going anywhere and I look at Strava and it’s updated my activity (so whoever actually found and turned off my watch, thanks!). I check the Flybys to see if I can find the cyclist who was with me and he’s posted his near death along with this (now infamous) photo:

Photo by Mike Martin

I’m fucking mad and I’m still mad and I know that’s not healthy especially right now but I’m mad. It seems clear that the load wasn’t secured properly and fell off the headache rack but instead of stopping, the driver decided to scythe his way through the joke of a bike lane at 80 km/h (the posted limit, which literally nobody drives on this route, so I’m being generous). I found out later that Mike Martin, the cyclist behind me, was hit as well but managed to stay on his bike. The driver was issued two tickets at the scene: (1) driving without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway (2) driving with an insecure load. If convicted, he faces a fine of less than the cost of the cycling kit that was smashed and / or cut off of me. Media have provided conflicting math but it’s less than $500. The driver claims he didn’t notice the load had shifted. What hasn’t been reported is the RCMP officer noted that the truck’s back cab window was open, as well as the camper in front of the truck had to “encourage” the driver to stop.

Worst kit photo ever.

Tuesday – I was kept overnight to monitor my punctured lung and to get checked by the orthopaedic surgeon. My scapula breaks into my shoulder socket (or really near it, I’m still not sure) and there was concern I would need surgery. After some more X-rays of my chest I met with the surgeon who determined that surgery wasn’t the best approach, but getting me home was. Before that could happen I needed my lung puncture to stabilize and the epidural in my spine needed to come out, which meant transition off the drip and onto oral meds. That meant another night at Lions Gate at least. I was determined to make it just one. By now I had been inundated relentlessly by media, thanks in part I’m sure for my social media posts exploding. I recorded an interview with CBC Vancouver and spoke live on Radio One “On the Coast.”

Link to CBC Vancouver news story, including video: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-cyclist-hit-by-overhanging-load-1.5673995

Wednesday – More chest X-rays and they were satisfied with how my right lung is recovering. The transition to oral pain management went okay, except that the medication makes me very nauseous and the last thing I want to be doing with eight broken ribs is throwing up. They also make me extremely drowsy so I try to just sweat through the nausea until I pass out for a bit and it’s usually passed by the time I wake up. I was discharged late afternoon, my ongoing care transferred to the trauma unit at Vancouver General, and to Stephanie. A stop at the pharmacy on the way and I was home in my own bed.

Today – Today has been rough; the pain is excruciating and the nausea is nearly as bad. I anticipated the worst DOMS of my life and they’ve exceeded expectations. But I’m grateful to be at home. I am extremely grateful to the people who stopped to help me on Monday, to the responders and all the medical professionals at Lions Gate Hospital for your care. Thank you, all of you. I am also extremely grateful for the outpouring of support through messages and social media. If I don’t reply please understand I’m exhausted, from the events of the past few days and also having to retell it over and over. I’ve read all your messages, and tried to read all the comments – normally the worst thing you can do – but they have been overwhelmingly positive. Not all, of course, there’s still the handful who are mad I ruined their holiday commute, blame me for being there in the first place, insist that the whole thing is a hoax (that one’s pretty fun), or conclude that it wasn’t so bad because I was so chipper in the CBC interview, apparently. Many of you want to visit or have offered help and we will welcome both. Please coordinate with Stephanie so that I can focus on my recovery. I am not interested in speaking with the media, and no amount of dogged determination is going to change that, though I’m sure that by tomorrow everyone will have moved on. I do hope that the calls for better cycling safety stay loud and clear, and let’s be clear: it is car culture that needs to change.

UPDATE 08/08:
– Many of you have offered to help get my bike from Squamish. Thank you, it is being taken care of.
– Some of you have offered legal referrals, and again, thank you. I have signed with excellent representation.
– Some of you have asked about a GoFundMe page; a friend has created one. It feels weird because I think there are much more worthy causes, but if you are so inclined: https://www.gofundme.com/f/todd-nickel-recovery-fund

29 thoughts on “2020 week thirty two”

  1. Wishing you a speedy recovery. Guess it could have been a lot worse. Hope the driver is penalized more appropriately and the truth surfaces of his negligence.
    Take care!!!

    1. Hey man, hang in there and get better. Don’t let the experience sour you on people or cycling. You’ll be exposed to the best and the worst of both. Just focus on healing your body, and i recommend you get back out there and do what you love to do. I’ll see you on the road my friend.

  2. Glad to hear you are home and recovering. Your experience is the epitome of scary worst-case scenarios for any road cyclist and yet here you are, composed and elegant, all the while nursing the most insanely horrendous physical injuries (I’m certain there are emotional and mental injuries there as well). Once you are well enough, keep riding. And don’t stop talking about this. Your voice, from a hospital bed at Lions Gate, is a beacon of hope for every single cyclist out here trying to just simply ride their bike along a roadway. I’ve seen incidents where the public outcry is definitely not respectful: bUt He wAsN’t wEaRiNg nEoN, yet your crash has a had a very different public outcry: comments are overwhelmingly in support of you, the cyclist, and calling for better enforcement of bad driving and dismal fines. I hope you keep speaking in public and in the media, and keep this important conversation going. Heal up quickly and keep riding.

  3. Take care Todd. Happy you’re getting better, though it’s only the beginning of the process. Happy to help in any way if I can

  4. I am extremely saddened to read what has happened to you. It’s beyond anything that anyone thinks will happen when they venture out for what was supposed to be an epic workout. There was an angel riding with you that day thank god! Reading every part of your story makes me want to rush over and help you or just be there to sit there . This will be a story that lasts forever but for now just take one day at a time . A long road for you but I definitely know you aren’t alone and if you need anything I live in your area , happy to do anything at any time .
    Don’t hesitate to ask, even though I only know you from running so fast past me along the seawall. You’ve been such an inspiration to me with all your runs and your rides -truly amazing. Now take care and rest up so you can get back out there again soon

  5. Lucky or unlucky? I am so sorry to hear of your story and pain! News worthy for sure. Freak accident by stupidity! Wishing you a speedy recover to enjoy your pleasures of life.

  6. Really sorry this happened to you.

    This MF’er needs to pay properly.

    So its a lesson to other slack pricks out there not to endanger other humans.

    This isnt incumbent on you.

  7. sorry to hear about this ‘accident’

    i frequently mountain bike in squamish, let me know if you need help returning your bike to vancouver.

  8. This is a terrifying story; I’m sorry it happened to you. I hope you heal quickly. Canadian cities need to develop better/safer cycling infrastructure and the car culture needs to change.

  9. Hoping you a speedy recovery. Good for you to speak out. Time to lawyer up and sue this guy, it’s unbelievable how reckless this was.

  10. Great Todd, you were so strong and determined. Recover and focus on it. Lots of things to be done soon. Hope to see you soon. Keep in touch, we’re here to help you. If you need appointment from VGH clinical area, don’t hesitate to DM us , Karen McCollough can help you with that. Take care and get strong and meditate to recover the trauma mind you’ve been through.

  11. Terrible accident that should never have happened! I have commuted to work every day for the last 3 years and am certainly aware that the car culture outweighs the opportunity for safer cycling. Take care and hoping you are back on your bike soon, 100% recovered!

  12. Thank you for sharing Todd. My sincere condolences for what you have experienced. I encourage you to reach out to David Hay at Richards Buell Sutton. He helped me when I was hit by a truck on the 10th Ave bike route near City Hall and broke my wrist and both elbows. He understands first hand the unnecessary dangers we all face by biking in BC. He is a good human. He will remind you to focus on healing now. I hope that you are able to confidently recover and have the courage to bike Sea to Sky again.

  13. Jesus Christ, what a fucking moron. Among other penalties, the motorist should permanently lose his driving privileges for life and be sued into ruin. Someone this stupid and careless should never be allowed to drive. But he could always take up cycling to get around.

    I hope you recover and I am despondent this happened to you.

  14. Please don’t hesitate to seek further medical attention if your breathing gets even slightly worse. It is not at all unusual to end up in ICU with that many rib fractures.

  15. John Lydon of PiL comes to mind. Not so much Lydon, more PiL. As in, personal injury lawyer. Best wishes for a full and successful recovery in the months ahead.

  16. So sorry a careless motor vehicle operator hit you. Best wishes for your recovery. I hope you can get appropriate compensation for your injuries and the driver’s negligence, and I hope you get a chance to ride again, next year if not this. Stay strong.

  17. Wow you are really a strong person. I am glad you are healing ok. We live in Squamish. If you need help getting your bike back we can help coordinate my sister can bring it in her truck they need way better safer bike route for you guys and that guy should have been charged with vehicular adult

  18. Sucks, dude. I can only hope you recover well, i’m sure your first ride back will feel great. Can’t believe the truck driver got off for less than $500, what a disgrace.

  19. I read your post of your planned marathon and I’m very sorry to learn the stupid f*** behind the steering wheel brought all this pain and trauma on you. Sending you healing karma.

  20. Get well and damn that driver. I agree with your sentiment of refusing to acknlowledge the circumstance as an accident. It was extreme negligence. I love seeing your impressive runs on strava and hope to see them continue shortly.

  21. Sorry this happened to you, hope you have a speedy recovery. I grew up in a rural area. Probably dont have near the traffic but very narrow shoulders. My old man always told us to walk or ride on the opposite side of the road, always get hit by the car you dont see coming. Never understood why this wasnt standardized. There are just too many terrible drivers out there.

    1. In most places, it’s illegal to cycle into traffic.

      Let’s not blame the victim. This isn’t the cyclist’s fault. He was doing everything by the book. It’s not incumbent on every cyclist to assume every car has an unsecured load sticking out 2m into the shoulder.

      Reckless drivers should face the full force of the law, every single time. They’re operating a deadly weapon. Abuse of those privileges should lead to lifetime revocation of any license to drive. Period.

  22. Terrible negligence. Glad you survived this one! There are people out there with awful attitudes towards cyclists and their right of way on the road. I am an avid mountain biker and commute daily by motorbike. I use the “pretend you are a ghost” and “every driver on the road is a hazard” when commuting, checking my mirrors often. In hindsight, mirrors might have come in handy but maybe on a bicycle it is much harder to pay attention to that with so many more vehicles passing. Something to consider for all road riders. I know whenever I take my mountain bike on the road I feel kind of vulnerable without my mirrors! Wishing you speedy recovery.

  23. Please please sue this piece of garbage driver, and try to set some precedents. There needs to be criminal charges, not fines. I wish you luck and a speedy recovery.

  24. As a cyclist, your story stuns me and yet doesn’t surprise me at all. I see negligent, idiotic, dangerous and aggressive actions by drivers every single time I ride. Sue this a****** into the ground! He had to hear/feel that load moving and should have pulled off the road instantly! Take good care of yourself, and get well. I hope you are able to get back on the bike and enjoy it soon.

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