ALTOONA, Iowa — RAGBRAI is just under one week away and many cyclists were gearing up for the ride with the Altoona Tune-Up this past Saturday, when along the route three people were injured riding over some rough railroad tracks.
“We were like eight miles from the finish and we could see down the road. There were firetrucks and ambulances so we kind of stopped and then we just kept going. A policeman said ‘come on go across’ and I went across and that’s when I fell,” cyclist Jolene Rosebeck said.
The ride had several different routes and the railroad track incident happened on the shortest route where riders would cross the tracks on NE 54th Avenue between Altoona and Mitchellville.
Mitchellville police said two of the injured people ended up with broken or cracked bones and were taken to the hospital immediately.
“The ambulances and the firetruck were already there for another lady that had broken her collarbone. So they were there and I was in the middle of the street, or the road I guess, but actually I was kind of thankful they were there. I thought I was OK because I’m a strong person. I was going to get up but then it was like, no. So I totally fell on my pelvis or hip bone and cracked it because I don’t have very much road rash anywhere,” Rosebeck said.
Cyclist Tracy Steffen broke her collarbone when she fell off her bike in the exact same spot.
“I just slipped so fast that I don’t remember slipping. I fell hard and he almost slipped behind me and he tried to help me but I knew right there I had hurt myself bad and I didn’t know how bad. I thought I broke my rib but it turned out I broke my collarbone instead,” Steffen said.
Both were getting one last good ride in before they set off to ride all or part of RAGBRAI.
“We usually take like one day on RAGBRAI, but yeah, I probably can’t do anything for six weeks,” Rosebeck said.
Steffen said due to her injuries, she is also going to have a tough time working.
“I’m an accountant. I do a lot of key pad and they’re going to have to find me a left-handed or something because I am right-handed. I do everything right-handed. I sign right-handed. I am signing left. I brush my teeth left and I’m right-handed. I don’t do anything left,” Steffen said.
Both women said they want this to be a lesson for cyclists of all ages.
“I’m getting off and walking. From now on I see any track, I am getting off and walking,” Steffen said.
Steffen added that a firefighter told her after the incident that if it wasn’t for her helmet, she probably would have been hurt even worse, and it is important to replace a helmet after an accident.
“I think from now on, if I ever see railroad tracks, I am off my bike. I think it’s just going to be a phobia now. I think that every time you come to a railroad tracks, I am off my bike,” Rosebeck said