By Steve Medcroft
Trek/VW rider Jeremiah Bishop has returned home following hospitalization after a brutal crash in stage two of La Ruta de Los Conquistadores on November 4th. In the crash, suffered while Bishop was leading the stage and making up time on race leader Hector Leonardo Paez (Full Dynamix), Bishop fractured his upper jaw bone. He was immediately transported to a hospital in San Jose where he received treatment for the fracture.
"The Injury was a Laforte 1 break of the maxilla," Bishop said Tuesday from his home in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Named for the medical scientist who first identified the weak spots in the human skull, the fracture essentially mean that Bishops upper jaw had separated from the rest of his skull. "If you can imagine looking at a set of dentures, that's what my jaw looked like." The fracture was most commonly associated with automobile accidents prior to airbag.
Bishop, who also had deep cuts in his temple, under his right eye and on his elbow as well as a fracture from the upper jaw to the orbit of his eye and two shattered teeth, was treated at the CIMA Medical Center in San Jose, Costa Rica. "CIMA was top notch; on par with a good hospital here in the US," he said. "They took a pretty typical approach to the repair for a skull fracture; used small, flat titanium pins. They have basically bolted my jaw into place until it heals."
Besides the extent of the injuries, the most incredible aspect to Bishop's crash is that he got back on his bike and finished the stage (for second place on the day). "I finished out of sheer determination and, in some ways, frustration," he said. "I was leading the stage and beating the guy who we thought was unbeatable. (Paez) is a rising star. He was pretty much spanking everyone at the race. To have that good of a day against a pure climber, on a 6,000 foot climb, was awesome. It was a stalemate to the top of the mountain so I put my game face on and thought I would take calculated risks down hill."
The ironic aspect to the crash, Bishop said, was that the gnarly part of the downhill was over when he fell. "I was on a three-kilometer section of gravel road - after the major downhill - and crashed just as I got up to speed trying to avoid a blind driveway." Bishop says someone had yelled for him to be careful of traffic on the road so he feels that he was "thinking too much." He classifies the accident as a 'freak.'
Three days after his surgery, the American flew home to Virginia to begin his recovery. Currently restricted to soft foods, Bishop says " They say these bones take longer to heal because they're eggshell thin, but I should be able to chew normally at the end of two months."
Bishop returned to training almost immediately. "I am riding again; mostly on the road and mostly endurance rides," he said. "I'll get back on my mountain bike soon but the crash hasn't affected my training at all - in fact, my coach (Hunter Allen of The Peaks Coaching in Bedford, Virginia) had scheduled eight consecutive days off the bike right after La Ruta as my winter break anyway so even though I was unlucky to crash, it couldn't have happened at a more lucky time."