Make no mistake, Fred loves to ride his bike. The former sheriff’s deputy and hospital security adviser couldn’t be more pleased that retirement gives him so much time to pedal. He rode more than 3,000 miles last year, according to the tiny computer on the handlebars of his custom-built metallic red racing bike, and he’s on track to cover even more this year. But one windy spring day last year, Fred ran into more excitement on his bike than he was after.
“Really, with biking, it’s not a matter of ‘if ’ you’re going to crash. It’s a matter of when,” he says.
Fred was out with friends doing his favorite thing, riding in a pace line. They were rolling along in tight formation, wheels just inches apart, taking turns cutting through the wind at the head of the line so the others could draft.
Just as a rider moved up to take the lead, a gust of wind knocked Fred’s front wheel sideways, and the bikes collided. His wheels caught in the deep grooves of the rumble strip. The rumble strip alerts drivers if they start to drift off the road, but it’s bad news for the thin wheels of a road bike.
“It happened so quick, you didn’t have time to brace for it or think about it,” recalls Fred.
The crash rammed the handlebars into his ribs and tossed him into the road, right into the path of a truck. Fred recalls thinking, “I’m going to get run over.”
A quick-thinking buddy grabbed his own bike and raised it over his head, making himself bigger for the truck driver to see, and the truck was able to stop in time. In fact, the driver gave Fred and his busted-up bike a ride to the local emergency room.
The doctor at Confluence Health, also a cyclist, told Fred he had no broken bones and no internal injuries. The bad news was Fred would miss the 100-mile Apple Century Bike Ride the next Saturday.
Fred ended up with deep bruising, a hole in his arm and some significant damage to the skin on his shoulders and knees. He also came away with a significant medical bill.
Fit and healthy, Fred never had a reason until then to use much of his Health Alliance Medicare coverage.
“They’re right here, and I can talk to them. They’ve been really helpful.”
“I got my bill, and it was over $4,200, and I thought, ‘Well, I guess now we’ll see how good the insurance is,’” he says.
Fred’s total out-of-pocket cost was $65.
“They did it all. I just got the statements to see the transactions happening,” says Fred.
He liked the care and attention he got during the process, face to face, from the staff at the Health Alliance Medicare office in his hometown.
“They’re right here, and I can talk to them. They’ve been really helpful,” Fred says.
Fred is back doing long rides with his friends and shorter trips along the Columbia River with his high school sweetheart and wife of 47 years, Carolyn.
When the snow comes, he’ll head to the YMCA for spin classes. Fred likes the SilverSneakers fitness program that’s part of his Health Alliance Medicare plan.
“That’s where it is, prevention!” says Fred, patting the handlebars of his bike. “This keeps me in good shape year-round.”