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The Wrath Of Bambi

In July of 1994, I had just finished a hard hill-climbing workout on my bike. It was just two and half weeks before I was to go to the Goodwill Games in Russia. I was heading down Old Stage Road towards my house in Boulder, Colorado with training partner and fellow triathlete Pat Brown. We were descending 30-35 mph on this steep grade which is the opposite direction of the Boulder Peak Triathlon bike course. In the middle of the descent, I saw a fawn and its mother on the left-hand side of road. I admired the sight and thought how incredible it was to be able to train in a city where wildlife cohabitates so closely with the human population. I had seen deer before on previous rides, but my admiration was shattered as the fawn ran across the road and continued running along side my bike. During this two second of accompaniment, I thought the deer would surely turn back the direction it came towards its mother.

To my surprise, the deer ran right in between my fork and frame. I flew off the bike and skidded thirty plus yards, smashing my helmet. Luckily, it was a misty day and a little cool. I had two long sleeve jerseys on and slid on the pavement. If it weren't for a helmet I would be dead or in coma.

As Pat came to my side, the first thing I asked was "how was my bike?" The bike was fine, but I wasn't moving. According to Pat, the fawn wasn't moving either with its legs sprawled on the road. As if this wasn't freaky enough, a police officer was behind us and saw the whole thing. In addition, the car behind the police car was an off duty Emergency Medical Technician who brought me oxygen. A lady homeowner near the scene also came out of her house and said, "I knew this would happen sometime, you cyclists go way too fast down this hill." That's all I needed to hear.

As both the deer and I lay motionless, the officer was waiting for radio approval from the Humane Society to put the deer out of its misery. While waiting, the deer awoke from unconsciousness to go find its mother. At least one of the two victims were up and moving. I was transported to the emergency room in an ambulance and after X-rays, cleared to go home that evening. After receiving road rash up and down the right side of my body, I thought how lucky I was to escape worse injuries. No broken bones, just road rash and a sore neck.

The episode doesn't end yet. I was still determined to go to Russia and seven days later I got back on my bike for the first time since the accident. I biked up Magnolia Road, which at a very steep 17% grade, would be a great training ride. On way down, I was paranoid of deer so I braked a lot. This caused my front rim to overheat and thus popped my tube as I made a sharp right turn. I fell on the same, as of yet unhealed, areas of road rash. I was in so much pain that a flat bed truck gave me a ride home.

Still, in hindsight I feel blessed. I think I had a guardian angel telling me to lighten up and not be so uptight and tri-geeky with my training, but rather to enjoy life more. I took a break for a while, missing the Goodwill Games, but I still have the expired ticket to Russia and the smashed helmet to remind me of the incident.

I also don't descend around the hills of Boulder as fast as I used to. When I do descend, I stay in the middle of the road as much as possible in order to see any deer and have more time to react. It's one of those things where you think it won't happen to me, but it does. I know that Bambi has grown up and now has antlers.

Fast-forward six years later to the start line of the 2000 Xterra Michigan triathlon. A triathlete came up to me and asked if I had run into any deer lately. I said no. He said there are a lot of deer in Michigan and whenever they go on group rides they say, "Don't have a Hobson." I laughed. During the bike segment of that race, two deer ran in front of me. Their tails are smaller than the ones in Colorado!

© Wes Hobson Performance Inc.