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Sports column: Bike Potatoes hit bump in the road

Parker Adams (left) and Zach Spehar, the "Bike Potatoes," pose for a photo on their tandem bike before departing on a journey to Maine and back. While biking last weekend in Ontario, their journey was cut short when they were hit by a car. (Photo by Sarah Packingham)

Parker Adams and Zach Spehar, the "Bike Potatoes" who were biking from Duluth to Maine and back to promote fitness and dispel the "couch potato" stereotype, have hit a bit of a bump in the road.

On Saturday, June 29, while biking just outside of Port Bruce, Ontario, a passing car struck their tandem bike as they were making a turn.

"With all the weight and momentum we were probably traveling somewhere between 35 and 40 miles per hour," Spehar said. "Our line of sight was blocked by some trees and we couldn't tell if there were cars coming from the left, which was the direction we were going to turn."

The recent Denfeld High School graduates proceeded to make the turn at the four-way stop anyway, when the incident happened.

"As we were making the turn, a car appeared and I could tell we were going to hit it," Spehar said. "The driver didn't brake -- he was traveling between 25 and 30 miles per hour, but attempted to swerve."

In a panic, the cyclists turned in to the car, and the bike was totaled. Both Spehar and Adams were thrown off. While Spehar was able to roll off and land on his feet, Adams was not so lucky.

"I saw that Parker was on his side and not moving, so I rushed over to him," Spehar said.

Spehar thought right then and there that Adams had broken his shoulder, but didn't know what to do about it. Luckily, there were a number of witnesses to the accident, one of whom was a nurse, and she tended to Adams while they waited for an ambulance to come.

Once in the ER, it was determined that Adams had indeed separated his clavicle, and that completing the journey by bike was not going to be possible.

"We're both doing fine now," Spehar said. "We want to continue the tour by roadtrip."

Through the ride, Adams and Spehar were hoping to raise awareness and support for the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, which offers money to less fortunate families and allows children an opportunity to exercise in a safe environment.

In the Bike Potatoes blog, Adams writes that they are currently staying in Port Bruce with a family who took them in after the accident, and waiting for his mom to come in the family's Prius. From there, they will continue to drive to Buffalo, N.Y., and visit YMCAs and do daytrips in New York, he writes.

After spending a few days with Adams and Spehar on the journey, Adams' mother will fly back to Duluth and leave the Prius with the Bike Potatoes. They will take the car on the same route that they were looking to bike, and will have the bike strapped on top as a reminder of how the journey started.

"We weren't really looking forward to driving a car to the YMCAs and trying to promote exercise, so we will be looking into a lot of hiking," Adams writes. "We will try to find the largest mountain or hill in each state and hike up, taking some wonderful pictures as we go. This way we can stress the importance of exercise, and the ability to reshape your life (healthily) around the unfortunate things that take place."

Immediately after the accident, Adams and Spehar couldn't help but wonder if their journey had ended, if their mission had failed and if their adventure would be no more. Now, this is no longer a worry in their minds.

"This blog will not be shutting down, and our message has not ended," Adams writes. "If you wish, you can just imagine that "b" in "bike potatoes" has been transformed to an "h" for "hike potatoes." But, it was never really about the bike in the first place, it was about the meaning behind it."

For those looking for more information on the Bike Potatoes, find them on Facebook or on their blog www.bikepotatoes.wordpress.com.

Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes about sports for the Budgeteer. Contact her at budgeteersarah@gmail.com.

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