Friday, April 11, 2008


I took half-a-day Thursday to ride long in the good weather. This is the second year in a row I've taken the half day on the first good day of spring to get out, and this year, with margit gearing up for LP, I'll need many more as well.

I was having a good ride really, although I noticed something. I'll admit it, like most desk pilots, I look at our fellow triathletes who are self employed business owners and what-not and wonder whether I'd be any better an athlete were I able to train at my discretion rather than when I can fit it in. Well, training in the afternoon has its own special challenge, at least if you're on a bike. They are big, yellow and you have to stop for them, and oh yeah, if you get behind one you are kind of screwed. It's still sunny, warm and 3PM, but just a reminder nothing is perfect.

I was enjoying myself. I'd ridden about 2:45 and covered 56 miles when my trip came to an abrupt end. Coming back from Guilford in Stony Creek there's a train overpass/tunnel that is clearly a throw back to the early 20th century. It's charitably two-car widths wide, flanked at either end by 90 degree turns into the tunnel and is general a death trap. I was coming down a steep hill where my speed had peaked at over 30 mph. I had dropped to 17-18 mph, but as I rounded the turn, using a nice wide sloping turn to maximize my visibility into the tunnel, I came to the unenviable conclusion I was about to crash.

Basically blocking the tunnel was a flat bed carrying a station wagon that looked like something out a Stephen King novel. I should have smashed head on into the truck, but I managed to find some open road between where it was well over the yellow line and the tunnel wall. However, it had those big oversized rear-view mirrors and I had to decide to either take the mirror out, or take the mirror in the head. I took it out, knowing that meant a crash.

My 303 Zipp wheel crumpled, which saved my fork as I hit the truck, the road. I lifted my feet up and took the impact on my helmet and shoulders so I could get the bike up off the road and avoid any further damage to my Elite (I was wearing toe clips because it's that time of year). This lead to a sprained wrist, but at least it kept the bike safe.

I bounced right up, and found myself being yelled at, but all I could say was license and insurance, and then I pointed at the truck, which had stopped with one wheel completely over the yellow line. Of course, the guy that hit me, well, he's only working part-time hauling junk, just got laid off, so what am going to do ? Pay for Zipp to rebuild the wheel, I guess. If he can chip in 20 bucks, great...

At least he gave me a ride home, and most importantly, I made the day care pick up.

Hey, if it had been a head-on collision like it should have been, who knows ? I suppose I'll think twice headed towards that tunnel next time... riding is sure a lot of fun...

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