Tucson’s Bertine out of ICU, recovering from crash

Tucson pro cyclist and women’s cycling advocate Kathryn Bertine (Cylance Pro Cycling) was moved Monday out of the intensive care unit of a La Paz, Mexico hospital and into a private room following a crash in the Vuelta Feminil Internacional stage race.

Bertine suffered a serious head injury and broken collar bone after an estimated 25-rider pileup near the finish of the race, according to her father, Peter Bertine, in an interview with Clipped In.

“There’s no surgery but observation instead,” Peter Bertine said. “The hospital has two good neurosurgeons, and the doctor I talked to was very encouraging. I’m confident that she’s getting the care and comfort that she needs.”

Bertine was in the peloton with one kilometer to go, when one of the riders hit an object in the street, which caused her handlebars to move and she went down, teammate Yusse Soto said in an interview in Spanish with Clipped In. Soto said she didn’t see the crash but she talked to her other teammate who did.

Soto, who finished fourth in the race, teamed up with Bertine and three other riders on the team Speedbike Sonora to compete in the two-day stage race, a competition that the Mexican Cycling Federation was using as a selection process for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“She has had a lot of people attending to her and everyone has been supporting her so much while she’s in the hospital,” said Soto, a national champion of Mexico and member of the United States team ISCorp Cycling p/b SmartChoice MRI. “Of course it was a pleasure to have her on my team. She’s a very good teammate.”

Bertine Yusse

Bertine, who lives and trains in Tucson, is part of the UCI Cylance Pro Cycling team, a three-time Caribbean champion, six-time national champion of St. Kitts and Nevis and an advocate for women’s cycling. She has written several books and filmed a documentary called Half the Road about the pitfalls of women’s professional cycling. Originally from New York, she graduated from the University of Arizona.

“I’m very proud of her for what she’s done,” Peter said. “She was down there as a guest of a Mexican team, and she believes in equality in women’s cycling and in developing countries – Latin America certainly.”

Peter said he was working out at LA Fitness in Tucson on Sunday when he learned of the crash.

“I was [in shock] and I still am,” he said. “I get quite emotional when I talk about it. Your brain works out all sorts of images and possibilities and being so far away from her you just don’t know. It’s a terrible experience. She’s been in other crashes but not as serious as this and not as far away.”

Peter said everyone in La Paz has been “extremely helpful,” and he was able to talk to his daughter over the phone for a short period of time, although she was groggy, he said.

He said Bertine had trouble remembering things but she’s beginning to improve with time.

“It’s going to take a while for her to get over this one, but it’s not going to deter her from cycling or being an advocate,” Peter said.