By David Nakai
I am a randonneur from Southern California. I like to ride my bike as do all Randonneurs. I enjoy riding for the same reason we all do, for the exercise, being outdoors, enjoying the company, meeting friends, and just having fun. I will drive long distances to satisfy my passion. The feel of the early morning chill, the pain in climbing, the `phew' when you get to the top, and the childlike thrill of the coast down. The accomplishment when the day is done. Food tastes great, and I sleep really well.
Unfortunately for me, I slept at a very bad time.
I drove more than 500 miles after a day of work, napped for four hours, and drove again to enjoy an all day ride. Exhausted, I attempt to return to my hotel. Feeling drowsy, I planned to get off the freeway at the next exit. I never made it.
As I write this, I have a 'halo' on my head. It is a cage that is screwed into my skull to keep my fractured neck in place. I must wear it for at least twelve weeks. I was very fortunate this was all the damage I sustained. I should have suffered some type of paralysis. More importantly, I am very happy that I did not injure anyone due to my carelessness. Had I hurt someone, I couldn't stand myself.
The purpose of this message is to help save someone from having to go through what I did. I know I am not the only one guilty of trying to drive when tired. After a long day of cycling, the monotony of driving can lull one to a fatal slumber. I've been lucky before as I have driven sleep deprived. It was about time for me to "Wake up."
Please heed my warning. I know many randonneurs have to travel long distances to do a brevet. It would have been a lot cheaper for me to pay for a local hotel room, than the thousands in medical expenses. Not only did I suffer, but my family and friends did too. I know my wife hurt more than I did hearing about my accident, and not knowing how I was.
In closing, I would appreciate, as my gift to all my bicycling friends, that you remember this when you are driving to and from an event. It would make me happy to save your life.
Have a safe and fun cycling season.
This message can also be found on the California Triple Crown web site.
I am hoping to go back east to do BMB again. Maybe next year.
David Nakai, RUSA Member #373