Initially, I had started writing this blog post as a reflection on a serious road bike accident we had with my wife during our honeymoon in Lake Garda, Italy back in July 2019. However, I have never found the right words to talk about it. Until now.
2019 was a crazy year… everything changed. Andrea and I got married and we were so lucky to celebrate it with all our friends and families. She finished her General Medicine studies. We purchased an apartment in Brno city center and moved to our new place soon after. Very quickly we realized the life is not only sunshine and rainbows. Just days after our wedding, we had a serious road bike accident during our honeymoon in Italy.
Then I had a lot of business trips during the fall of 2019 and the time was flying fast. London, Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Boston, Denver, London, Toronto, Boston. Crazy.
At the beginning of 2020, I made a big change at work taking up a new challenge and joining the Kontent Executive team. And then from March 2020, the world has been coping with COVID-19… and now in December 2021 things are still far from normal…
Where to begin?
As mentioned in the foreword, I started many times writing about our accident in Lago di Garda back in July 2019. Never got it done. It was always too hard for me to share it. I was always doubtful about writing about it since I am not a big fan of sharing personal stuff on social media etc. On the other hand, every now and then, people ask me about the blog and say it’s been really inspiring for them, so I am always walking the fine line whether to get back to writing it or not.
Lago di Garda road accident: The matter of luck
Just days after our wedding in July 2019, we went to a beautiful Lago di Garda in northern Italy. Both Andrea and I absolutely love Italy and everything it has to offer: beautiful mountains, passes, happy and energetic people and also local cuisine so choosing the location for our honeymoon was quite easy. This time, we wanted not only to spend time in the mountains, and enjoy some delicious food, but also slow down, enjoy some cities and relax a bit. Lago di Garda was then a clear winner!
It was just the second day of our honeymoon when we set up for another road bike trip to the mountains above the lake. Until then, I have never thought about failing (anything) or having an accident. We were both under 30, just married, well-educated lucky people living in great conditions enjoying our lives to the fullest.
It all happened so fast. We started our descent in a mountain pass, and I remember watching Andrea – she rode surprisingly fast considering how cautious she always was in the downhills. I was thinking that all hours in the saddle finally paid off and she’s now a proper road cyclist enjoying the serpentines :) At the same time, I realized the asphalt is still a bit wet after the morning rain.
Then, all of a sudden, I saw her rear wheel moving horizontally left and right in the perimeter of 1 m and I know she’s going down. I had no idea what’s happening but suddenly, I also fell down pretty hard. Before I did, I remember seeing Andrea crashing directly into the barriers. It looked like a scene of the scariest Tour de France accidents. I will have this scene in front of my eyes for the rest of my life, I see it every time I go downhill with someone and there are barriers along the road.
I quickly got off the road, tossed my bike to the side, and ran after Andrea. I will never forget what I saw after running to her. She was laying motionless under the barrier, unconscious with a pool of blood under her head. I remember that I could not believe it… just days after a wedding I am gonna lose my wife. I remember thinking it’s just a dream, these things don’t happen to me after all.
And then there was a moment when I realized, it’s not a dream. There was a car pulling over, shouting if and how they can help… we immediately called ICU, and we were extremely lucky the driver who pulled over was local Italian. He knew the area (and he spoke Italian of course), and it significantly accelerated the rescue operation. In the meantime, fortunately, Andrea woke up but could not move (she did not even attempt and rather waited for the medical examination, of course).
I have always considered myself someone who copes very well with stressful situations. But I must admit it was really difficult to keep it together.
The helicopter arrived very fast, but considering the terrain and serpentines, they could only drop off the paramedics. That was the first moment when I believed it would turned out well. When the paramedics approached Andrea, she was whispering “I’m a doctor, I’m a doctor” + some latin expressions what she thought about the potential diagnosis. The paramedic approached her calmly, did a first check up and told her “Don’t worry, everything will be OK, I’m a doctor too.”
Anyway, we had to wait for an ambulance because the helicopter could not pick her up in the serpentines. I remember choosing not to go with the ambulance so that they can proceed faster with the helicopter pick up. The Italian who pulled over as a first car after the accident gave me a ride to my car, and then I drove to the hospital in Verona. I remember driving my car on the highway while seeing the helicopter in the sky. I felt like in a dream or a movie.
However, the stressful situation did not end when I arrived at the hospital. I was waiting for the next couple of hours in the outpatient clinic just to get some information about Andrea. I remember realizing that the nurses thought I am just one of the ambulance patients waiting for the treatment because I was still wearing torn cycling clothes full of blood :) This moment was probably one of the most challenging because I decided to call Andrea’s parents to brief them, even though I still did not know her current state. Also, I started arranging things with the insurance company etc., which was not too encouraging either.
The last memory is about the moment when nurses told me Andrea is alive and they allowed me to visit her. I remember being the luckiest person on earth. After my discussions with doctors, I realized that 1 of 100 is as lucky as were are in such an accident.
Since then, this experience has accompanied me on all my adventures. It does not mean I would stop training (and competing) hard, I just stopped chasing milli-seconds and rather enjoy and appreciate every morning much more than in the past.
Endurance sports… Keeping the momentum going
The year 2019 ended so long ago that I will not do a traditional yearly review of all events, books, travels, competitions, and so on. One thing is clear – it was a big year that pushed both Andrea and me to new horizons.
When it comes to endurance sports and numbers, it was another successful year in books with 477 hours of active training and more than 7000 kilometers!