After South America, Paola Gianotti’s world tour by bicycle proceeds crossing the United States, and then towards Australia. However, an accident forces Paola into a stop and a return in Italy. What happens next? Will Paola be able to go back to her race for winning the Guinness World Record?
Welcome to Miami!
After an eight hours delay, the airplane with the team of the world tour by bicycle reaches its destination at last (see the first ride in North America on our website). The impact is totally different from South America. Lights, skyscrapers, luxury, advertising everywhere. The United States are exactly like in the movies. In this continent, the driver of the camper will be Gildo, called Gil, a highly reliable smiling guy.
After checking the bicycle, Paola is ready to start, but today is also her birthday and the guys in the team wake her up singing Happy Birthday To You…
“I think about what I am doing. I think it is my 33th birthday. The best present for me for this birthday is having believed in this dream. Even during the hardest moments. Even when everything seemed impossible. Even when I was about to give up. I carry on in order to reach Louisiana”.
Paola arrives in New Orleans at 8pm that day. A magical coast to coast length awaits her. After Florida, Texas and New Mexico, it is Arizona’s turn, crossing wildlife reserves and Indian reservations. Phoenix is two thousand kilometres behind the bicycle already, California is the next destination. From there, the tour is going to carry on in Australia. Paola already smells the scent of the kangaroo’s magical land. Yet the destiny decides otherwise. Australia has to wait. On 16th May 2014, around 11am, “There is vacuum, nothingness, darkness, pain”.
A car knock her down, Paola is taken to the hospital, in the emergency ward, and then moved to the Phoenix Hospital. She spends the night there, and then they discharge her. The fifth cervical vertebra is fractured, no operation is needed but a lot of rest is required, she needs to stay still.
“Off the camper, sitting on a wall, I cry. I look at the lights of this city, which I crossed the day before. I took a selfie in front of the sign, commenting on: ‘Phoenix, reached and crossed’. And here I am, due to an accident which could have been fatal. I cannot stop crying. According to plans, now I was supposed to be near Los Angeles. Why am I here instead?”
Now it is important for Paola to file the problem of the accident, through a good American lawyer. He reveals to her that the driver who hit her was a twenty years old boy, not paying attention because of his cell phone (in Arizona it is legal to use your cell phone while driving). Some weeks later, he also helps her to find the only doctor open to do an MRI, which reveals that the fracture is not healed up yet. The worst news ever for Paola.
At this point, every project concerning a forthcoming restarting of the world tour has to be put aside. Paola does not want it, but she has to come back home. Meanwhile, the Guinness World Record has been informed about what happened and they decided to put on standby the time count.
Once in Ivrea, her trustworthy orthopaedist advises her to keep the cervical collar for another month at least. Until the end of August. Meanwhile, she can train on rollers, at home. This is what happens during that month of long wait. Then, another resonance.
“My mum senses the results of the resonance from my hysterical screams. I dance like an overexcited person, waving the sheet with the verdict. The vertebra healed up. I can come back on the bicycle. I can come back to pedal around the world!”
It is time to wrap Hobo –the bike- again, and reach Los Angeles.
They need to move from the angels ‘city to the exact point of the accident, in order to restart from there. “I remember every instant of that morning. My cheerfulness, the call from my dad, who tells me to hurry up and fly to Australia one day before, the Australian dream…I am here again to have that dream back. I am here again, four months later. I am here again, along with Ivana and Gil. I get off the camper with Hobo, the two of us together once again”.
To keep up again with the pace after the stop of the accident demands a big effort; restart to pedal for two hundred kilometres daily is tiring, but soon they reach California and in a little less than a week the team arrives in San Francisco, the last destination in the United States (see the amazing last part of the ride in Nord America here).
Finally, America finished. And now Australia is in front of us. For real.
To be continued…