Zero days without a fall

October 23, 2015. Phoenix AZ. John C Lincoln Medical Center. Room 540. Through all the training and preparation I have done for this ride I never actually believed I would complete it. I always thought some how, some way there were just too many miles for me not to hurt myself. Prior to this year I can’t remember the last time I fell. But not trying to do the ride was unacceptable. Yesterday morning we were cruising along at 25 mph and I felt great and for the first time ever the thought that I might actually be able to pull this off popped into my mind.  We were riding through Phoenix and made it through all the traffic and were on a bike path next to the canal. No traffic, minimal pedestrians, no obstacles to speak of.  For the whole ride I have been focused on the road in front of me, looking for obstacles and only occasionally stealing a glance at the scenery around me (and Ian’s butt in front of me).


I think on the bike path I allowed my mind to wander.  I got too close to a curb while looking around and just went over it. On the other side of the curb there was gravel as far as the eye could see in both directions. Except for one 10 foot section of large rocks.  It happened very quickly, but as I went flying over the bike the irony of where I was about to fall still had time to register.  I don’t recall going over the handlebars, but Ian says that I did.  I lay there on a bed of rocks yelling in pain, trying to get myself to shut up,  but this just had to run its course. Once I gathered my faculties Ian helped me to the curb to sit down.  He asked me if he should call Rae or an ambulance then asked a couple of other questions that I should have known the answers to but didn’t.  Then he decided himself to call an ambulance.  I have never broken a bone before, but there is no mistaking the feeling of cracked bone rubbing on cracked bone. The paramedic who braced my arm said “ooooh, yup, that’s broken.”


In a previous lifetime I would still have been trying to figure out ways of continuing the ride but as they hoisted me into the back of the ambulance and closed the doors I knew it was over for me.  There were so many places I could have fallen over the last 5 days in the middle of nowhere. But I ended up falling less than one mile from a trauma center.  I have never ridden in an ambulance before either.  It was a decidedly short ride though. No flying down the highway through stop signs with lights and sirens going. I felt cheated. It seemed that no sooner had they closed the doors then they were opening them again and wheeling me into the ER where the first thing they did was cut off my Rays Little Ride jersey. Several X-rays, MRI’s, EKG’s and CAT scans later I am told I have three fractured vertebrae, three fractured ribs, a pneumothorax, a fractured humerus and a concussion. On the X-ray they also pointed out to me my collection of old fractured ribs from previous falls. Apparently my rib cage is a living history of my cycling mishaps.1023150837a

I have never spent the night in the hospital either, at least not when I wasn’t being paid to be there so it was a day of many firsts. The question is, now what? It is now the morning after and on the wall at the end of the bed there is a checklist on the whiteboard of people that have to come and see me to give me the all clear. The only blank box left is a cognitive evaluation. Once they arrive and sign off, we will be on our way. What exactly that means for the future of the ride? This we will be talking about with the team when we get out of here. They are waiting back at the hotel room with fresh bagels, cream cheese and lox.


83 thoughts on “Zero days without a fall

  1. Rest up Ray. Something tells me this story will continue and get even more interesting. I know you will make it to the finish line. Hope I will be able to celebrate with you there🎉🎉🎉


  2. Ray,
    I’ve been following your journey since the start, and am now praying for your opportunity to finish…one way or another. Your spirit and humor are truly inspiring. You have blessed all of us.

    …And, if the opportunity presents itself after a period of healing, I’ll join the the chorus…it’s really hard to fall off a recumbent trike and the view is oh so much better! God bless.


  3. There’s got to be a way! Hoping your team can figure something out! Ground Zero-So funny. What happened next, not so much! What are the odds that random pile of rocks? You have a beautiful way with words. We’re rooting for you here back in the Flatlands. K E E P. G O I N G.


  4. I like the recumbent and/or tandem bike ideas! Or, can local bike clubs along your route ride for you? Rest……heal……and carry on!!! Even if it is finishing the route in a vehicle!! You are already a winner and an inspiration to the rest of America and beyond! God bless!


  5. Such caring and insightful wishes. A well deserved tribute to you, your courage, resolve, artistry, and, wit. Like everyone, I’m sorry to hear of your injuries and having to putting the bike ride on hold.

    Improvisation is always in order it seems, when something comes one way, we find something another way. Your smile, focus, and moments of zen are clearly carrying you through all this, along with your family and your larger circle of support.

    I was thinking along the same recumbent trike lines as Phil, Tammy, and Gail. With your own modifications, doing it your own way, of course – the Frank Sinatra Ray-cumbent Trike….?

    Wishing you well-ness, through your healing process as you travel this next phase of Ray’s Little Ride. Keep on keepin’ on, Ray. –Mick


  6. Ray, I love how you keep bouncing back. You may not ride your bike again, but something tells me that as long as #youaintfuckingdeadyet this adventure will continue. Go Ray Go!!!


  7. Have you considered a three wheel trike type bike where you are seated and there is less pressure on your hands and less stress on your back? Balance is less of an issue and you can enjoy the scenery. Lots of those hear in Minnesota – the great biking state 🙂 good luck. I hope you find a way back onto the bike route.


  8. Hi Ray! We never met, but we have observed your fiery peacefulness and heard so much about what a wonderful person you are through mutual friends over the many years we lived in Urbana. We happen to be in Phoenix for a conference through the end of the day. We have some small treats we would love to bring you if you are still in town. Tried dropping them off at the hospital listed on this post last night, but they could not find you as a patient. I left a message on Rae’s phone earlier today (given by a mutual Urbana friend). Please drop a line if you are still here. If not (or if you would rather privacy, which we definitely understand), we will give the treats away to people asking for donations on our way to the airport tonight, and we will be sending good thoughts! Much love and admiration.


  9. Sticks and stones may break our bones but our Spirit will never leave us. Ray, your quest has been admirable. As will you future days be big with blessings! All the best to you and Rae and the Spooner Family. Love Reigns.


  10. Ray – I have been reading your blog since my sister Sara Lampert Hoover shared it on Facebook. I am saddened by your fall – but inspired by everything you have shared along the way. I wish you everything!
    I send positive energy from Ithaca, NY.


  11. I was one of your many patients, and you will always have a special place in my heart because you helped my babies come into this world. You are truly an inspiration. Cheering for you!!


  12. Your race is far from over. I’m so touched by your strength & know that you’ve already made a huge impact on so many people. I think I may pick up biking at some point- you make it sound magical. Rest up & stay strong.


  13. We know you will find a way to complete Ray’s Little Ride. Alternative wheels will appear. That’s because you are you – inventive and determined. Just be sure to allow your bones and muscles heal. You will find a way. LOTS OF LOVE TO YOU AND RAE. Maybe Ian can hook up to the car and pull you for a spell. You can “ride” in the “little”back seat.
    Susan, David and Peeper


  14. Ray. Your grace in handling everything that has come your way opens my heart and inspires me to be a more courageous, loving and generous person even as my heart aches at the your losses and the associated losses of the world. I send my love and support to you and yours from the bottom of my heart.


  15. Love that you are keeping everyone updated and we’re eager to see you continue! So much love and many good thoughts your way


  16. Sending love and prayers to you and your family. Your journey is an inspiration. As you are well aware, ALS is a horrific disease. Thanks for sharing your story.


  17. wow ray. you really are making this a royal event! we found out about this site at a garcia’s reunion dinner a few nights ago. inspired + touched. love to you+rae.


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