Fifteen-year-old aspiring pro-cyclist Joshua Hartman is a fierce competitor. At the tender age of 14, the cyclist was already winning races against men nearly twice his age after only two years of racing. Hartman is the youngest member of the Major Taylor Development Team, an New York City-based amateur racing team of 19 cyclists, named after Marshall “Major” Taylor, the first, African American world cycling champion. His teammates agree: Hartman is the real deal with a great chance to fulfill his dream of going pro. But after a devastating bicycle crash last month, Hartman's dreams are on hold.
On June 8 in the Navy Yard of Brooklyn, NY Hartman exited a right-hand, 90-degree turn and hit a protective barrier during the first qualifying heat of the Red Hook Criterium. He sustained multiple injuries to his face— he fractured his cheekbones, nose, eye sockets and jaw. And when his face hit the protective railing his mouth was split open. Hartman was rushed to Kings County Hospital, Trauma Center in Brooklyn, where he remained in the ICU for nearly 3-weeks. Doctors and nurse thought his injuries were the result of a motorcycle crash that’s how life-threaten his injuries appeared. Now Hartman faces an extensive recovery process requiring multiple surgeries, the amount of which is uncertain.
According to race director David Trimble, by itself, the turn wouldn’t have required bike-handling skills to quickly navigate. However, the right-hand, 90-degree turn was immediately followed by a left-hand, 90-degree turn; the sequence of opposite turns, known as a chicane, is what made it challenging — and reason for riders to slow.
But Hartman carried too much speed as he rounded the corner of the right turn too wide. He ran out of room on the exit of the turn, which resulted in crashing face-first onto the top rail of a steel barrier.
Hartman underwent maxillofacial reconstructive surgery on June 14, during which titanium plates and screws were inserted into his jaw, cheek and orbital, and part of his nasal and sinus cavities. It will take up to 10 weeks to heal. Hartman’s jaw, which is currently wired shut, is healed, but he’ll need multiple dental restorations in the future.
In the days following the crash a fundraising page was set up by a team mate on Go Fund Me to help support his under-insured parents with the huge medical costs for the reconstructive surgeries needed to repair his face and mouth. The global cycling community has shown up in a big way to support this young star, with donations pouring in from as far as Australia, Italy and Thailand. In 20 days, nearly $39,000 of the $200,000 goal.has been raised by 693 people, including former pro cyclist, Lance Armstrong.
This Sunday, July 21, his teammates are continuing their fundraising efforts by hosting a Tour de France viewing party in Hartman's honor, along with a silent auction and a raffle. Hopefully, with people rooting for him from all over the world, Hartman will be back on the track in no time.