Well, I hit him. Mostly or entirely because he pulled in front. Of me. While I was going over 25mph.
I blame Harig, because he was supposed to ride with me and since he didn’t (It was raining he said) I went my pace which was clearly perfect for putting me in harms way. Had he shown up, we probably would have deviated and I would have missed the big yellow truck.
I ride 1 day a week outside for 2-2.5 hours. Usually pretty easy, like 200-250 watts, or rather Zone 2. It was cold but not raining and I think I saw about 3 other cyclists – I don’t count nerd bikers and believe me, there are a lot of nerd bikers here in Seattle – but just 3 cyclists were out today.
So I was riding nicely on a pretty flat road, picking up some speed because it was flat and the Issaquah-Hobart Road is not a friendly place for cyclists. I think the road is fine, the people are generally not so fun, always in a hurry to get to Target. But I was only on it for maybe 2 miles before there’s a bike lane and where the speed limit turns to 25.
Up ahead of me is this paragliding parking lot/base area. Paragliding is not gliding for paralyzed people, it’s like a parachute but you sort of glide down from this mountain peak above and the occasional ding dong hits the power lines and missed the parking lot. It’s like really slow parachuting, except you find a tall mtn to jump off of.
So sometimes people turn into this lot but usually not in front of cyclists – to go paragliding.
I take great pride in my ability to read whether or not a drive sees me, is aware of anything or is going to do something dumb. In this case, the driver of this enormous yellow jacked up pickup chose the last option – the slow, gradual turn and then panic stop: RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. In the chart above you can see that I sort of noticed the guy and slowed a little and then suddenly slowed a lot from 26.5mph to about zero in 2 seconds. The road was wet as were my brakes and I hit them and the bike sort of skidded on the wet road which was pretty much the same effect as pedaling – I wasn’t slowing much.
So because I was a super talented race car driver (I even won a track championship!) I had experience hitting a lot of things and knowing that as you are going to hit something you have a bit of time to think about stuff or that if you look somewhere else, you’ll end up there. I thought that I could probably fall down and stop that way but hitting this giant yellow jacked up thing might not be too bad. Mostly because I didn’t look anywhere else because he was taking up the entrance to the parking lot, the left lane and the right lane.
So as I got closer to figured out the technique I was going to employ – I used my swimming coach’s advice as I sort of leapt a little off the bike, rotated my torso 45 degrees, extended my arm out straight, outstretched hand, anchored, pulled and sort of not really nicely beefed it into his truck – think of this as a person swimming into the wall at your local pool, slow, steady and not really that dangerous.
Like any bike accident, the first concern is – did my bike get hurt. I wasn’t too worried about the bike, it was my road bike and the WHEELS ARE AWESOME (see below, they’re awesome) so I made sure they were sort of not taco’d or even out of true before I went crazy at some driver I couldn’t see because his windows were so dark that even next to it – I couldn’t tell if there was a pile of rednecks or just one. Luckily, it was one. Which was, like my wheels and calves, awesome, because I just offered a loud assortment of French or possibly English less-than-carefully-chosen words.
Mostly I yelled because it nearly scared the crap out of me and that seemed worth yelling about. I’ve got strong buns and no crap had escaped in the scaring.
He was immediately sorry. As he said ‘sorry’ about 5 people sat in their cars amazed at what they had witnessed.
One guy yelled ‘CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, HE TURNED RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU OVER A DOUBLE YELLOW LINE’. I wanted to tell him to read my blog where I could tell him this was good news but not that helpful. But if it had been a car full of cheerleaders I would have fallen over immediately pretending to seizure. But it was a dude. And I really needed to get things back into Z2 to keep the fat burning going.
Yeah for witnesses!
Then he pulled into the parking lot instead of holding up the now 30 cars sort of sitting and waiting and actually not going 50mph.
He said he was sorry and that he didn’t see my. I just looked down and said ‘I’m 6 feet tall, 190lbs and dressed like Captain America – how could you not see me?’. Then he said he was a cyclist and was really sorry, he just didn’t see me. He wasn’t a punk or a redneck and was clean cut and all nice.
I believed him because it happens. I once almost hit a small person in a motorized wheel chair thingy while he was IN THE CROSSWALK. He was small – honestly I didn’t see him, but I didn’t hit him. But that wasn’t today. But I really didn’t see him, so it happens.
So I sort of thought or tried to think if I had to do anything – so I looked at my bike and he grabbed my gloves and handed them to me (because I suppose I flung them off just in case I need to throw down or pick up his truck and fling it into the woods). I was pretty livid.
Then I saw he had Veteran plates.
I’ve been watching the Pacific (a show about the war in the Pacific) and about a million other things about our troops in various wars and suddenly I asked him where he served. He had spent the last 13 years in the Army. I didn’t want to know more and told him I appreciated him serving in the Army and that it was more important to me to thank him for that than anything that could have been wrong with my bike. I figured not enough people thank or value people who serve in the military and that I wasn’t bleeding badly that I could see and that in the great battle of cars vs cyclists I could totally flank this situation and say thank you and win.
He shook my hand looking at me pretty stunned and I rode off.
SO there. Yeah for Veterans and not getting hurt.
UPDATE: I DID SORT OF GET HURT, A SORE NECK AND APPARENTLY A BROKEN MOLAR FROM CLENTCHING MY TEETH IN AN EFFORT TO HELP MY BRAKES WORK BETTER. (If doesn’t work)