Day three has proven to be a memorable one.
Approximately 50 km into a rainy journey from Fort McNeil to Woss, my front tire slid out from under me sending my bike and I careening into the concrete and into a fellow tour rider.
Lying on the concrete, uncertain of where I was, my leg numb from from the crash – I wondered who I had crashed into behind me and feeling guilty I had taken a teammate into the road with me.
I remember seeing a flash of someone fall on top of me, the sudden feeling the weight of someone else on top of me and then seeing the sky above me as I lay on my back. Shortly thereafter, confusion and uncertainty settled in before I questioned if this crash could take my dreams of riding this tour away.
As it turned out, the rider was the West Shore RCMP’s Donna Fraser, who bruised her ribs during the crash but soldiered back onto her bike. While I am missing most of the skin on my left knee and suffered a deep bruise, I too am fine. We were both hurt, not injured and a few painkillers later the team continued our journey to Woss Lake school.
Shortly after pulling in, I was whisked off for medical attention while my teammates were welcomed into the gymnasium with a cheque for more than $700. On the surface, that might not seem like a large total for an entire school – but consider the entire school population is seven students spread out between kindergarten and Grade six. The cheque averaged more than $100 per student, an amazing total from a town where the entire population is counted in the hundreds.
After introducing myself to the students at a meeting arranged by the support crew because I missed them while I had my knee attended, I continue to see how the small communities on Vancouver Island set the bar.
After hearing of the crash and listening to me admittedly get emotional about why I wanted to be there to see them, several of the students stood up from their desks walked towards me, a dripping wet stranger and gave me a hug. Shortly thereafter, the teachers following suit.
A few years down the line, I know won’t remember much about the crash or the challenge of riding 140 km on the longest ride of the tour. Thinking back on day three of the tour, I will remember seven desks in a semi circle, in a single class room – and the handful of students and teachers that made me cry.
Arnold Lim is the media rider for Black Press on the 2013 Tour de Rock team.