Cyclist Amanda Mayes (left) and Cindy Brown, co-owner of Unshakable Grounds Coffee Shop, became close friends after Mayes suffered serious injuries in a September 2019 cycling crash. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton
Amanda and Chris Mayes stopped by Unshakable Grounds Coffee Shop in Burnet the morning of Sept. 7, 2019, on one of their regular bicycle rides through the area. The Bertram couple had never set foot inside the coffeehouse and, at the moment, had no idea how connected they’d become to it, the owners, and the entire community. As they were new to the area and commuted to work in Austin, they had not made many personal connections.
After leaving the coffee shop, Amanda Mayes, on her bicycle, was hit from behind by a pickup truck. The driver did not see her as she rode down CR 200. The impact threw Mayes off the bike and left her with serious and life-threatening injuries that required immediate surgery upon her arrival at Ascension Seton Williamson in Round Rock.
Mayes spent 16 days in the hospital followed by 10 more in a rehabilitation center. After she was released from care, one of her first stops was Unshakable Grounds. As she walked in, a woman Mayes didn’t know stopped her and said, “I’ve been praying for you.”
“It was kind of easy to know who I was because of the brace I was wearing,” Mayes said, “but I didn’t know her.”
Other people inside the coffee shop, owned by Cindy and Michael Brown, told her the same thing.
“You know, up until then, I know people would say, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ but I thought it was just words, nothing really meaningful,” Mayes said. “They meant it. It wasn’t just something they said, but they actually took time during their day to pray for me.”
Amanda doesn’t remember the crash or much of the time immediately after, but she learned of the people, the first responders and the passersby, who helped. Jerry Horne, owner of 7 Creeks Vineyard, was putting up signs for his winery when he came upon the crash. He set up a tarp to shield the injured woman from the sun. A couple who lived nearby stopped to offer Chris water and let him sit in their air-conditioned car.
Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Franklin Randolph responded to the scene and handled the investigation. He kept the couple informed about the case and kept up with Amanda’s recovery through a fellow trooper who knows the Bertram couple. He also connected the Mayeses with a victim’s services counselor.
Ray Frost, the EMT who responded to Amanda’s crash, learned the couple had been to Unshakable Grounds and called his daughter, who worked there. When co-owner Cindy Brown heard what happened, she immediately began reaching out to others to ask them to pray for Amanda and Chris.
“It’s just been amazing,” Amanda said. “You hear about small towns where everybody knows everybody and looks out for each other, but we didn’t know anyone really. Yet, here they were looking out and taking care of us.”
A neighbor mowed their lawn while others brought meals as Amanda recovered. When she steps into Unshakable Grounds now, she and Cindy jump into conversation as if they’ve been best friends for life.
Sixteen months after the crash, Amanda considers herself fairly well recovered, although she has some lingering effects, including arthritis in her back and mobility issues with her neck. She might need back surgery.
Since the crash, Amanda has become an ambassador for It Could Be Me, a nonprofit cycling organization that works to humanize cyclists in the eyes of motorists as well as support crash victims.
In a few weeks or sometime in February, Amanda and a couple of friends will get on their bicycles at 7 Creeks Vineyard to finish the ride she and Chris started in 2019.
“We’ll go by the crash site, which will be the first time I will have been by on my bike,” Amanda said. Eventually, the ride will finish at the Mayes’ home, and Amanda expects it to be an emotional time. “My friends, they understand if I have to pull over and, you know, have a moment.”
Another thing she can depend on is when she pedals off that day from the vineyard, Cindy Brown and the local community will be praying for her.