John Sawchuk is praying for the safe return of his $3,000 racing bicycle after a woman who prayed by his side at an accident scene Saturday left with his bike and a promise to return it.
The bike is still missing. It has been four days since Sawchuk, 65, was injured on the Centreport Canada Way highway across from The Player's Course golf course when he hit a one-metre-wide unmarked break in the concrete pavement near a construction zone and was thrown from his bike.
The woman was one of at least four Good Samaritans who stopped to help Sawchuk as he lay injured on the side of the highway.
"She asked if she could pray for me; she knelt down and loudly prayed. The ambulance got there shortly after that," Sawchuk said.
He was told the woman offered to take the bike when the paramedics said it could not be transported in the ambulance.
"I thought she had my wife's cellphone number, because I heard a few people repeating it," Sawchuk said. "But we were out on a road, it was very loud with all the traffic, so I don't really know if people were writing it down or just tried to commit it to memory."
Sawchuk, a triathlon competitor, was on a training ride as he is preparing to represent Canada at the 2014 International Triathlon Union world championships in Edmonton from Aug. 26 to Sept. 2. He was travelling at a speed of about 40 km/h when he hit the hole. He said the bike was damaged as its front forks (which hold the wheel) were snapped off in the crash.
"It's not the typical bike you'd ride around on, it has a lot of modifications and it's basically designed to go straight and fast," Sawchuk said. "That's why I think she might have lost our contact information. There's not really much you can do with it if you're not racing on it. And the bike is broken."
The bicycle is a Cervélo -- a high-end specialty bicycle specifically designed for triathlon and time-trial cycling events. A light, aerodynamic unit with a carbon-fibre frame, it is equipped with racing pedals and an aerobar handlebar for racing speeds.
Cervélo bikes are only sold in two places in Manitoba -- Alter Ego Sports in Winnipeg and A & L in Brandon.
Sawchuk said he found out the condition of the bike through photos taken at the scene by a man named Gerald, who was the first person to stop as Sawchuk lay injured. Gerald called 911 and Sawchuk's wife, Sigrid. The next day, Gerald contacted Sawchuk to see how he was doing, emailed photos he took at the scene and told Sawchuk about the woman picking up his bike and saying she'd return it.
Other people who stopped included a female nursing student who held Sawchuk's hand and comforted him and a man who placed a jacket over his legs as he began to shake when shock set in.
"I'm extremely grateful to all the people who helped me, and I thanked them as best I could. I had trouble talking because I was short of breath, maybe from the shock," said Sawchuk, who was examined in hospital and released. He will have a lengthy recovery. He has broken bones in his cheek, damaged ribs and bruises and scrapes to his shoulders and arms.
"My helmet saved me more serious injuries, and I consider myself fortunate to have only sustained the injuries that I received," he said.