Professional cyclist Michael Torckler might be the master of the understatement.
The 25-year-old New Zealand native was descending Pine Flat Road on June 29 when, according to police, a car driven by Arthur Yu, 36, of Rohnert Park rounded a bend on the wrong side of the road and drove straight into the Bissell team cyclist.
Torckler, who just last year worked his way back into racing shape after suffering a broken kneecap, was left with multiple skull fractures and a broken arm.
“I'm definitely a little bit sore still,” the rider said just before being moved into Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital's acute rehabilitation facility Friday.
Airlifted to the hospital in critical condition, the racer is now deemed in “good” condition by his medical team.
A plate has been inserted into his lower arm and he is limited to soft foods — yogurt, eggs — to keep nourished until his jaw feels recovered enough to chew.
“I've improved a lot very quickly,” he said from his hospital room.
Torckler, with his parents Linda and Brohn Torckler by his side, said his relative immobility is a strain.
“It feels quite frustrating,” he said. “I want to live a normal life, get back to walking and eating normal food.”
Torckler declined to comment on the specifics of his crash, but said he was lured to Sonoma County by a teammate who raved about the challenging and beautiful roads.
“I'd really been enjoying my time here. Training here is quite magnificent,” he said. “A lot of quiet roads, it's really enjoyable.”
The steep pitch up Pine Flat has been used as a training ground by Santa Rosa resident Levi Leipheimer, as well as fellow professional cyclists Chris Horner, Alberto Contador and now-retired Scott Nydam of Sebastopol.
Few houses are located along the twisting turns and it's a popular spot for experienced riders looking for a challenging climb and technical descent.