Rally Cycling mechanic Erik Maresjo has spent a lot of time behind the wheel of the team van, driving the Pro Continental team's gear from one race to another, but his trip from Golden, Colorado, to Cedar City, Utah for the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah last week will be one to remember after a rock slide on Interstate 70 about two hours east of his destination stopped him in his tracks and damaged both the van and trailer.
Maresjo suffered only a minor burn on his forearm when the airbags deployed, but he was otherwise uninjured. The van was obviously not so lucky.
"I was just driving along minding my own business at 10:30 at night and saw a good little dust cloud just at about a 45-degree angle from the van and thought, 'Well, that's weird'," Maresjo told Cyclingnews.
"Then there was a dust cloud that the van was in, and the van kind of stopped abruptly, the airbags went off and I was like, 'Wow, that's interesting.' I was still in the dust cloud and I kind of opened the door and looked at the front and saw there was a big boulder kind of sticking out a little bit and there were some other rocks in the other lane."
Maresjo remained in his vehicle but checked for damage.
"The front end was pushed all the way in," he said. "I probably hit it about 45 or 50 mph; I wasn't really paying attention the speedometer as I was slowing down. The front A-arm got ripped off. There were smaller rocks that hit the trailer and ripped off the awning. It broke a wheel on the left side, so there was something that probably skidded through.
"Fortunately, in the middle-of-nowhere Utah I was able to get full cell service. I called Utah Highway Patrol and a tow truck was dispatched and got there in like an hour later. The Volunteer Fire Department from Emery were out there in about 45 minutes," he said.
Both the van and trailer were out of commission and needed to be towed the rest of the way. Then Maresjo had to tell the team about the bad news.
"I made the call at like 11 at night, and was like, 'Hey, the van's totalled. We need to change our plan and get one of the other vans out here,' and we were able to do it."
The Tour of Utah begins Monday with a 5.3km prologue in St. George.
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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