Wednesday, February 6, 2013

FatGuy - Fender Destroyer

It could have been so much worse.  But I think I am going to live … although it hurts to type this … I survived my first bike versus car incident.  That’s the good news.  I have begun to type this from my hospital room at 11.49pm.  But I will rewind to about seven hours ago.

It seemed like another normal commute home.  I did the 4.25pm Ferry and planned my normal 6 mile bike ride home.  I talked a bunch of smack with StravaMo about how I was going to own him on our bet this year.  In fact, I had planned for Mo to do another wacky 50 mile morning, plus 10 mile “errand” plus 17 mile day – gaining 50 miles on our totals.  But his presence on the boat got me excited when I learned that he aborted this morning and just got in a normal 17 mile day.  Sweet!!  I gained a few miles on him today.

After getting off of the boat, a crew of about 5 guys jetted off.  I stayed behind to chat with another buddy for a maximum of 30 seconds.  I accelerated to get out of the parking lot, then slowed as I made my left onto the bike path westbound parallel to Sir Francis Drake.  I slowed in the normal spot, looking left up the driveway into the Wood Island Office Complex, clear.  I accelerated a bit as I got back on the path – which, by the way, doubles as the sidewalk.  I looked left in driveway number one, clear, and the same in driveway number two when all of a sudden a Toyota Tacoma pulled out from the offices into the bike lane.  There was another bicyclist immediately on my right, so I couldn’t veer into SFD (he did).  So braking was my only option.  Unfortunately, my reflexes and my FatGuy inertia won the battle.  I T-Boned the Tacoma right in front of its front, passenger-side wheel.

I’m not sure exactly how it all went down.  But I remember looking down at my handlebars and squeezing the brakes as hard as I could.  Next thing I knew, I was on my butt, on the driver’s side of the Tacoma, in the east bound bike lane on SFD, not quite in the lane of traffic (not to be confused with the west bound bike path where I started).  I sat there for a bit, making sure that all my facilities were generally intact.  The cyclist next to me grabbed my bike and moved it to safety (I think).  Then the driver of the car approached.  I still had my hands on my helmet and my face in my lap.  All I heard was something to the effect of, “Wow, Man, that was an impressive flip you did over my hood.”  By that point, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t dead.  My right hand was throbbing but I felt capable of getting myself up and off of the street.  I stood to an incredible pain in both knees.  Oh crap.  I sat back down on the ledge and just sat quietly, staying silent and wiggling all of my extremities.

Finally I came to and started to chat with the people that stood around.  There was me, the cyclist from next to me, the driver and one other guy.  Everyone was really calm and careful to see whether I was all right.  My most pain remained in my right hand.  But my knees were starting to hurt more, too.  The driver started to chat us up about what happened.  He was careful to not point any fingers (yet) and say how that intersection is so dangerous.  “I see bikers flying through here every day, nearly missing cars”, he said.  He rambled on about how it wasn't his fault and how “we both were kind of at fault” and how it wasn’t fair that “bikes always got the benefit of the doubt when cars and bikes collide”. 

When the pain got more manageable, within a couple of minutes, I stood up and started talking a bit myself.  I took out my camera and took a few pictures of the white scuff marks on his fender and the FatGuy marks on his hood.  According to the driver, he looked left (away from my direction) to check the traffic and when he turned his head back, he saw me flying over the hood of his car.  He claimed to never have seen me coming.  More interesting, he said that he saw me fly over the hood, do a complete mid-air flip, land on my feet on the other side of his car, and then do a somersault on the concrete, landing on my butt.  It truly all happened so fast that I have no clue what really happened.  The driver was really cool, albeit a bit evasive, though.  And I could tell that he was equally traumatized.  The cyclist next to me spoke up and said to the driver, “Well, you did come out a little too fast and too far into the bike path”, but the driver wasn't having it.  I snapped a few more pictures, we exchanged a few more pleasantries, the cyclist gave both of us his contact info, the driver texted me his name and phone number, and we all went our separate ways.

I rode home pretty gingerly, continuing to assess the situation, adrenaline still pumping.  My knees and right hand hurt the most but I was, again, going to live.  I figured out that when I was ejected from the bike, my knees must have somehow hit my handlebars.  The front wheel was riding straight, but the bars were tilted probably 10-15 degrees to the left.  I had to bend the front wheel back into shape from the broken spokes and bent rim, bent the left shifter back into place and I tightened up the front fork.  The weirdest thing of all is that my bottle cage was completely bent and pulled from the frame.

I made it home safely and was greeted, as usual, by my happy kids.  We went straight up to the shower where I could get my clothes off and take a further look.  My knees were both bruised and my right thumb and pinkie was swollen pretty nicely.  I had little scratches on my left elbow, right ankle, and right pec - just above my nipple.

Putting the kids to bed, I rested on the couch until the Missus returned home.  I told her this story and she insisted that I get some x-rays on my hand and knees.  Unlike usual, I agreed and headed to the ER.  So here I sit, waiting for the doctors to see me.

That’s the game day report.  More to follow.  Did I mention that I am not dead?  I think that is the most positive thing can state for right now.

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