posted Sep 10, 2009, 10:06 AM by Donald Vescio
updated Sep 12, 2011, 8:11 AM
This past Saturday, I was hit by a car while on a mid-morning training ride. I was on my normal loop on which I do my intervals. This loop has lightly traveled roads, with very broad sight lines; the surface is good and I feel that I'm as safe as I can be while riding on public roads.
At the time of the incident, there was a small mill on the right side of the road. This mill was converted into a few small shops, none of which ever seemed to have much in the way of visitors. As I was passing the mill, a car approached me from the opposite direction, then stopped approximately 50 yards away, signaling to turn left in the mill's parking lot. Just when I reached the parking lot, the car accelerated sharply and turned left in front of me. I was going approximately 27 miles per hour; fortunately, I was able to turn hard to my right to avoid a head-on collision, but my path still ended up drifting in front of the vehicle. The car hit my left hip and leg pretty much from behind; this, in turn, pushed me forward into the parking lot. I managed not to crash (and not to hit--or be hit by--another car), and rode home with a bruise that covered most of the left side of my lower body.
While this certainly was a disturbing incident, it wasn't the first time that I was hit by a car. In 2004, I was struck by a car in a very similar situation, only that time I was hit solid. The car's bumper struck me in the left hip, launching me into the air; as the car continued forward, I was hit a second time, which tossed me completely over the vehicle. The end result was the loss of a good amount of my left hip and left shoulder, along with other broken bones and vertebrae. I had a one month stay in a rehab hospital, a two month confinement in a wheel chair, and two surgeries.
Last Saturday's accident got me thinking about how many accidents that I've had while riding. Back when I raced on the road, I was used to crashing, as I was a sprint specialist. Oddly enough, the only injuries that I experience during this period were bruises and abrasions--I never did break any bones. But when I shifted my focus to time trialing (to be safer), my string of bicycle-related disasters began.Partial Catalog of Unusual Incidents
- Struck by car three times. Two of the incidents are discussed above; the third occurred last year, when a car full of teenage girls passed me from behind and then turned sharply right, cutting me off. I hit the side of the car and landed its opposite side. Damage: broken right hand, dislocated left shoulder.
- Hit by golf balls three times. This happened twice as I was riding through a local public golf course and housing development. The first time was the result of an errant drive off a fairway located next to the road; this ball hit me in the left thigh and broke the skin, leaving a large bruise. The second time was near the back nine, when someone enthusiastically chipped their ball out of a sand trap, which hit me in the left arm. The final time occurred at another public course in an adjacent town. I have no idea as to the source of the shot; as I was riding, I felt a painful impact on my lower back, and then saw a ball bouncing across the street. I stopped, picked up the ball, and have it in my office right now.
- Picked up two snakes. I like finding interesting objects that I can bring home to my daughters. One spring day, I saw a beautifully colored toy snake on the side of the road. I stopped, picked it up, and then immediately flung it away when it started to move on its own. Coincidentally, an elderly woman was tending a flower pot at the end of her driveway near me when this happened. Upon hearing my scream (and seeing a snake take flight toward her), she let out a loud yell of her own and rapidly moved to her house, dragging her cane behind her. Not learning from prior experience, I picked up a live snake a second time, only there was no audience present to participate in the event.
- Snagged by a fish hook. This was just like the scene in There's Something About Mary. My interval loop passes through a reservoir which allows public fishing; there's a fairly broad shoulder on this road, on which people park their cars and fish. One afternoon, as I was finishing an interval, I felt a sharp pain, and then a strong tug on my left forearm. Looking down, I realized that I was snagged by a fish hook. Apparently, one of the fishermen that day was in the middle of a cast as I passed by. Not knowing that he had caught a cyclist, the fisherman jerked on the line to free the hook. The hook tore out of my skin, leaving a small scar; most interesting was how upset the fisherman was at me for disturbing his recreation.
Aftermath of an Accident, Part One (2004)Same accident--note how the front fork was sheered off at the crown. The front wheel and fork landed approximately thirty feet away from the crash.