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Near-crash on bike leads to BMX reflections for Vernon ultra athlete

Skills Shanda Hill learned years ago with Vernon BMX prevented disaster at Swissultra double deca triathlon
Vernon ultra athlete Shanda Hill survived a near-crash experience with less than 1,000 kilometres to go in the cycling discipline of the 2023 Swissultra Double Deca Triathlon race in Buchs, Switzerland, Wednesday, Aug. 30. (Facebook photo)

A near-crash on her bike had Shanda Hill reflecting on her childhood and praising another form of bike racing.

Vernon’s ultra athlete continues to roll along in second place out of four women in the Swissultra 2023 Double Deca Triathlon in Buchs, Switzerland, but came close to a disastrous crash Tuesday evening, Aug. 30.

As dusk was falling, wrote her support crew on her social media pages, Hill was riding fast and feeling good about the excellent time she was making. After cycling thousands of kilometres – she has finished 2,835 km out of 3,600 as of Thursday morning, Aug. 31 – the strain on a cyclist’s neck can feel like the head is stacked with weights.

Hill dropped her head down to give it a break and viewed her legs, watching them go around while she concentrated on her breathing. She was in a meditative state when she snapped her head up and realized there was an obstacle in the path ahead of her. At the last second, Hill swerved out of the way, narrowly avoiding rolling down a 30-foot embankment into a chilly river below.

Shaken up by the experience, Hill returned to her tent to maintain composure.

“You have to understand that the psychological pressure of maintaining the inner dialogue in her head to enable her to keep cycling can instantly be shattered by such an experience,” said her crew. “Throughout the night, she struggled with her breath and the anxiety of the experience. It caused her breath to be shallow, and riding in the darkness alone brought additional fears and doubts in her head.

“As daylight came and she focused on her breath, those feelings dissipated, and her breath returned to her.”

Hill didn’t want to talk to her crew about the incident, but she realized if it weren’t for her background in BMX bike racing, and the quick-twitch muscles and reflexes she learned there, things could have been a lot worse.

“She wanted to communicate how important it is that she grew up with the skills she learned at Vernon BMX,” wrote the crew. “If you are looking for a sport to get into for yourself or your kids, Shanda asked you to please look into getting into and supporting Vernon BMX, or any BMX club in a community.”

Hill has another 765 km to go before beginning her 844 km run to the finish line. She trails Austria’s Alexanda Meixner, who has started the run portion as of Aug. 31.

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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