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Kzoo-area bike crash survivor prepares for Gran Fondo

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the four survivors of a 2016 Kalamazoo-area bike crash is preparing to ride in the Gran Fondo with his physical therapist from Mary Free Bed.

Paul Gobble considers himself lucky despite the pain and extensive recovery after being hit while riding his bike.

“We took off for a ride that day, and about seven miles into it, a truck ran into all nine of us,” Gobble said.

He was riding with the Kalamazoo cycling group the Chain Gang on June 7, 2016.

Cyclists honor 5 killed in Kalamazoo-area bike crash

The collision killed five people and injured four others, including Gobble.

“I had a broken leg, broken rib, several fractured vertebrae and a traumatic brain injury,” Gobble said.

After weeks of recovering at the rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids, his physical therapist, Sean Murphy, helped him get back on a bike.

Paul Gobble gets back on a bicycle for the first time after he was hit by a pickup truck near Kalamazoo in 2016. (Courtesy Paul Gobble)
Paul Gobble gets back on a bicycle for the first time after he was hit by a pickup truck near Kalamazoo in 2016. (Courtesy Paul Gobble)

“Sean had me out in the parking lot, still with a full leg brace, back brace and neck brace, riding a bike around the parking lot. He pretty much cemented that I was going to keep riding,” Gobble said.

Gobble has no memory of the crash itself and views that as a blessing, since he has no fear of riding.

Cyclists honor 2016 Kzoo crash victims by riding same route

Murphy says the recovery took a lot of hard work, but Gobble was determined.

“With Paul, he was great about following the directions we gave and that, you know, it was safe for him to start getting back into it. It took a while,” Murphy said.

Gobble rode with Murphy twice in the Gran Fondo after the collision and is training for his third ride through an 80-mile course from Grand Rapids to Grand Haven and back.

  • Paul at Gran Fondo. (Courtesy Paul Gobble)
    Paul at Gran Fondo. (Courtesy Paul Gobble)
  • Paul at Gran Fondo. (Courtesy Paul Gobble)
    Paul at Gran Fondo. (Courtesy Paul Gobble)

“The fact that he’s willing to get back out there after everything he has been through is a testimony to him,” Murphy said. “And I think it’s a testimony to what cycling kind of does for us.”

As he prepares for his third Gran Fondo, Gobble will ride in memory of those in the group who lost their lives.

“Their names are on the back of my jersey here, and they’re with us always,” Gobble said.

The Gran Fondo ride will take place on June 22.

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