Dan Humiston smiled Sunday as he finished his 50-mile bike ride through Southern Erie County.
It went a lot smoother than a year ago, when he was coming down a hill on Trevett Road in Concord, hit a pothole or patch of stones, and went flying over the bicycle. He landed in a rocky drainage ditch, and suffered two broken hips, damage to several vertebra and bleeding on his brain.
But the 49-year-old owner of the Tanning Bed recovered, and got some friends together Sunday to ride the same route, although they stopped short of the spot where he lost control of his bike last May 26.
“It’s not a very good stretch of road. Why relive it?” he said.
The bikers spent about four hours on the ride Sunday, and their stops included the Mortons Corners Volunteer Fire Company, whose volunteers responded to his accident.
Humiston had riding jerseys made up for the bikers with the names and logos of the groups that helped put him back together: Mortons Corners Fire Company, Mercy Flight, Erie County Medical Center, UB Orthopedics, and Buffalo Rehab Group.
“I finally made it,” he said as he glided into the parking lot at Chestnut Ridge Park on Sunday, where a chicken barbecue was waiting for bikers.
A year ago, Humiston had been barreling down a hill in a group of riders before he hit a rough patch of road and was ejected.
“We found him on the side of the road. He was just crumpled on the side of the road, the bike was about 50 yards downhill and across the road,” recalled friend John Hurley. “He was out cold for about 10 minutes.”
There was a time Humiston’s family and friends did not know if he would walk again, let alone ride his bike. And when they visited him last summer, they talked of this year.
“All the guys I rode with the day I crashed, they go, ‘Next summer, we’re going to do this ride, we’re going to finish it.’ That was the inspiration for this,” said Humiston.
He spent three months in bed, which made it difficult to campaign for the Assembly. Humiston, who ran for Congress in 2008, had announced his candidacy for the Assembly shortly before the accident. He did not win.
Eight weeks after the accident, he was allowed to swim, but not to kick. When he graduated to a wheelchair, he set up a 5-kilometer course near his home and wheeled himself around it. He was allowed to stand up on Labor Day, and was skiing by Christmas.
“I feel good,” he said Sunday, but he said he has lost strength and flexibility.
He’s now training for the Ironman Triathlon in Lake Tahoe, Calif., in September. His friends knew he would come back, but even they were surprised at how quickly he did.
Some things have changed, however.
“I’m a big chicken going downhill. Used to be you went downhill and got to rest. I’m on my brakes all the time since my crash,” Humiston said.
They’ve all learned something, Hurley said.
“I think a lot of us who were here last year were saying this is good. We can get out here and conquer the demon. We’re all being careful,” Hurley said. “We’ve learned we’re not getting any younger and we’ve got to slow down a little bit.”