“They make mistakes and you suffer.” More accurate words I’ve rarely heard, and at the particular moment they were spoken, I never felt so fortunate as to be able to hear them. That this bromide of wisdom was coming from a doctor in the local emergency room was little consolation. I felt lucky to be alive.
I have to say that over the years I have written many editorial columns. Some good, some not so good. None, however, were as meaningful to me as this one.
It was a beautiful autumn day, and I was only seven miles into a planned 60-miler when I could see it beginning to happen in front of me. It felt like slow motion, but I was big-ringing it and he was hurrying to make a left turn. The moment I entered the intersection, I realized that our individual fates would soon collide. I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Nooooooooo!” It mattered not as the guy behind the wheel continued to bear down on me as if
I wasn’t there.
Between my rear wheel locking up and sliding sideways and the car finishing most of its turn, instead of a head-on impact, it was more of a hard, glancing blow. This was when things sped up dramatically.
The next thing I knew I hit the deck on my back with my head slapping down soon thereafter. I was too sore and in shock to get up quickly. I raised my head just a bit to try and catch a view of the offending car. All I could see was a smashed passenger-side window and a dented door resulting from some part of my body or bike slamming into it.
Once I was sure that I had no serious injuries, the bike dork in me took over and was fuming that my scheduled long ride was finished and that the crash may have jettisoned my participation in the upcoming Mike Nosco Challenge.
I was told to stay still by some bystanders, but felt stupid just lying there blocking traffic. After a few minutes I felt well enough to sit curbside, where I was soon surrounded by inquisitive sheriffs and EMTs.
There was one moment during the question-and-answer period when a sheriff asked me for the value of the bike (it was our Cannondale SystemSix test bike). The bemused look on her face when I told her it cost $12,000 was priceless and almost worth enduring the whole ordeal.
As expected, as the driver recounted the accident to the sheriff, he offered the proverbial “Claude Rains defense” (aka the invisible man): “I didn’t even see him coming.” Unfortunately, how many times have we all heard that?!
“As far as my editors’ choices go, my single most valuable choice is this—I choose to
ride. And, to ride as often and as safely as possible.”
The medics on scene encouraged me to get checked out for a probable concussion because I failed the “follow my finger with your eyes” test. However, since I wasn’t interested in a $3000 bill for a 15-minute ambulance ride, I declined their offer for a ride and instead called my friend Tim to come and pick me up.
When I told him what happened, his immediate reply was, “Again?!” You see, Tim was the same guy I called three years ago when I got doored by some lady who “never saw me coming,” leaving me in the middle of the street with a broken hand and shoulder.
THE LONG & SHORT
A few hours later I found myself at the local urgent care facility where I was assured of having suffered a concussion. It was another humorous moment when the nurse began to clean what she thought were fresh wounds until I pointed out that they were actually the still-yet-to-heal leftovers from the big crash I had on the Montrose Ride just a month earlier.
Back in the office the next day I was reminded of just how lucky I was to not only see Troy still in a sling following his high-speed flip while leading out the group at the Rose Bowl ride, but also in hearing him tell me of a friend who recently befell a similar fate as I did, only he lost all his teeth when he hit the windshield. All of which leads me to talk about…
THE EDITORS’ CHOICE
In this issue, we once again trot out our editors’ choice picks as a way of digging down to a more personal level of what we like and dislike. As discomfiting as the story of my crash could (and should) be, it is certainly not my intent to scare anyone away from riding. Cars, and the errant drivers who drive them, are simply our reality. We all know how vulnerable we are when riding—it’s just a fact of life—and I don’t think ignoring it is the right thing to do.
As far as my editors’ choices go, my single most valuable choice is this—I choose to ride. And, to ride as often and as safely as possible. I hope you all make a similar choice. Sure, accidents happen. They aren’t fun, they hurt and, yes, they can even be fatal. But really, what are we to do—not ride?! That’s not a choice for me.