Hi, Lea here. Paul has been telling me off recently for my slackness in blogging. I'm actually quite happy just to let him do the blogging because his stories are so much more interesting and I feel he is a far better writer than I could ever be. But anyway, here I am doing a blog update. This blog entry has another purpose too, to give you a very important (although not pleasant) update...
Now in the past week the North Island of New Zealand was declared to be a drought zone. In all the time since I arrived in 2004 I have not seen it this dry and brown. I used to joke that when you move countries people would say "you think the grass is greener on the other side..." and I used to reply "but the grass really is greener here... after all it rains all the time". Well, not all the time, but certainly a lot. However, for weeks and weeks and weeks now it has not rained. Or where it has it has not rained enough. It is quite a worry to be honest. Today though, they had rain forecasted and most of us were looking forward to that.
The rain mostly held out, but it was raining ever so slightly earlier today. Not so good for Paul and his fellow cyclists who had this big cycling race scheduled. 90km (55.92 miles) with a lot of uphills. Last year Paul didn't do as well as he hoped as he had some punctures during his race. He had great hopes for today's race though as it is a course he is well familiar with. It is the same course he often does for training (yes, some people enjoy cycling up hills).
We arrived early this morning as Paul still had to enter and register. He decided to change his wheels. We thought somebody recently suggested that when you cycle on hills you would do better not having large rimmed wheels and that his usual wheels would be more appropriate. So that is what he did. We then left Paul behind and set off for the top of the first hill to wait for the cyclists coming past. I learnt afterwards that Paul's bike computer wasn't working after he changed the wheels which wasn't helpful for him during his race and he had trouble changing gears so had to do most of his race in the wrong gear.
By 8:30am we were ready to see cyclists coming past and finally we saw the leading car with some cyclists following. Not long after I saw Paul who looked pretty strong on the bike. What I didn't know then was that Paul actually was involved in a crash just before he started this hill as a number of cyclists fell and then of course Paul went into them causing him to fall. Because of the little bit of rain, the roads became very slippery so that was not very good.
After we saw Paul go past we went back to Waikanae (that's where the race started from) and that was was where the race would finish. We were well in time and I positioned myself so that I would be able to get a nice finishing photo of Paul. As we were waiting the commentator mentioned that thanks to the wet and slippery roads a lot of cyclists crashed and came off their bikes. We saw an ambulance come past and I saw a few cyclists with evidence that they were involved in crashes. Paul's one cycling buddy said he came off his bike twice and was pretty sore, but it seemed he did manage to finish with a good time.
And so we waited. And we waited. And we waited. I felt sure Paul must have had punctures again which if that was the case would have been so incredibly disappointing for him.
We waited until pretty much all the cyclists were back (I'm sure) and one of the official cars came past with some cyclists in the back as well as a few bikes. Paul's bike was there too. So then I started to really worry.
I was then told that he had a bad crash, that the ambulance coming past was for him and that he was flown to hospital with a helicopter. They suspected a broken hip or pelvis and that he was in quite a bit of pain. Two other cyclists waited with him until the ambulance arrived.
I got Paul's bike and helmet, dropped it off at home and then left for the hospital about an hour long drive away. He was in ED when I got there, he had a neck brace on and his head was taped down so that he would not move it. They confirmed he had a broken hip and still just wanted to double-check that there wasn't any injury to his neck. It was quite heartbreaking seeing Paul lying there and seeing just in how much pain he was at that point. Paul said that at the time when he saw the helicopter and the ambulance all he could think of was that he hoped it wasn't just badly bruised and they wasted time coming out for nothing.
Paul said that even though his bike acted up, he had a good race despite crashing just before the first hill. He was about 15 minutes away from the finish line and had just come over the summit of the last hill when he went around a bend and suddenly his bike gave way underneath him and he landed with full impact on his left hip. He was lying in the middle of the road in excruciating pain unable to move. He managed to somehow shuffle to the side of the road where he lay until some cyclists stopped to see what was happening. It took a little while for the ambulance to arrive and it sounded like it took a little bit of time for the pain medication to kick in enough so they could move him.
After some more x-rays at the hospital they were happy that it was only his hip and no damage or injury to his neck. He was scheduled for surgery and tonight at 7pm he went in. Finally after about 4 hours he came back on to the ward. I'm not exactly sure how long he will have to stay, but it will be a few days and then I believe he will be on crutches for the next 6 weeks and it will take about 3 months before he can start thinking about running or cycling again. I think he will find this so hard as he is so used to going out for a run or cycle every single day. Exercise is his life. It is what drives him and gives him a sense of pride and achievement. So that is going to be really hard for him.