A South Florida cyclist struck an alligator while on a ride with friends. What happened next has him struggling to get back to his normal life.
A short walk may not seem like much of an accomplishment for champion runner and cyclist Tim Nicholls, but the small steps are a miracle compared to where he was three weeks ago.
On June 28, Nicholls took a nasty fall along State Road 84 that nearly killed him. He was training with a group of cyclists when they came upon roadkill; the carcass of an alligator in the road.
Nicholls slammed right into the remains. He doesn't remember hitting the ground hard, but his pain and broken ribs won't let him forget. He also had "multiple facial fractures, a broken clavicle and a collapsed lung,” according to the Sun Sentinel.
"I walk and don't walk straight," he said. "It's like a drunk walk or tilt a whirl. My head is scrambled up."
A cracked frame is all that's left of the bike. The wheels and handle bars are gone.
Nicholls also feels like he's missing parts, and he's frustrated it will take who knows how long to get back up to speed.
"It's going to take time," he said. "There's no band-aid to put on it. It's a long recovery, a long process."
For now, Nicholls just has to rest and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Strapping those feet into pedals and getting back in the race will have to wait.
"If I can start doing that, life can start getting back to normal," he said.
According to data from Athlinks, Nicholls has competed in more than 180 races at a total of nearly 2,000 race miles, notably, the recent Ironman 70.3 in Hawaii in May.
Last year, Nicholls won the 55-59 age group national duathlon (run-bike-run) championship in St. Paul, Minnesota.