Crash near Tofino knocks out one Tour de Rock rider

Pedro Arrais


It all happened so fast.

The team was riding toward Tofino on Sunday, a few kilometres past the junction, when, through the fog, I saw a tangle of bikes and bodies.

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The lead car slowed down after getting a report that a rider near the back had a flat tire and the front riders had to brake hard, causing a chain reaction crash.

Matthew Pidgeon, Adam Carruthers, Jason Bland and Steve Wright went down.

I swerved to avoid running over Steve’s arm and other riders behind me veered left to avoid getting caught in the chaos.

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Steve seriously hurt his left shoulder and was groaning in pain on his back. Matt hit his head hard and was cheek to the pavement, not moving. Jason and Adam suffered only some minor road rash.  

Everyone moved in to help Steve and Matt. Justin Whittaker, a former paramedic, and the Tour medic, Glen, stabilized Steve on a spinal board until the ambulance arrived.

Matt got up slowly, looking dazed. He was taken to hospital with a minor concussion.

Two riders down, we finished the 30 kilometres to Tofino with heavy hearts.

We had breakfast at the legion, chatted with the crowd, but all of us were worried about Steve and Matt.

After breakfast, we all loaded up in vans and drove back to Parksville. We learned that Matt could be back on the bike by Monday but Steve had separated his shoulder, taking him out of the ride.

For someone who has rallied the community in West Shore and Sooke so much in the months leading up to the Tour de Rock, this is devastating news. Steve, the operations commander for West Shore RCMP, is always the first to shout some encouraging words when fellow riders are struggling up a hill. 

At our evening debrief at the hotel in Nanaimo, Steve was there, his left arm in a sling, his wife Ailsa by his side. Despite the disappointing news, Steve was unbowed.

“I went down, but I’m finishing the Tour,” he said.

Even though it won’t be on a bike, Steve will still be with us for the entire journey.

“It’s not how you get there that matters, it’s making it to the finish line,” he told us.  

kderosa@timescolonist.com

Times Colonist reporter Katie DeRosa is one of the media riders for this year’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, a 13-day bike ride from Port Alice to Victoria. DeRosa will be filing stories daily about the ride until it wraps up Oct. 3.

To donate to her fundraising campaign in support of the Canadian Cancer Society, go to convio.cancer.ca/goto/katiederosa.

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