Friday, October 14, 2011

How to Not Get in a Bike Accident

My long ride last Sunday had plenty of adventures and while the overall ride was a sort of disaster in slow-motion (time-wise- 100 miles in an anemic 5 hours 13 minutes), it had one shining moment. It came when I didn't smash into a car.

I was about an hour into my ride, feeling really good. I was headed up Route one at about 23mph. A blue Honda went by me, going barely faster than me, a line of cars behind him. He appeared to be looking for somewhere to turn, but I had the feeling, since he had no signal on and with the way he was kerning the car, that he wanted something on the other side of the rode.

I was wrong.

When we got the entrance of the Mobil station, he turned right. No signal, no warning, no breaking, just that old man 'I'm going here' turn.

At first, I ran through the 'how do I avoid hitting this car' protocol. I had maybe 2.5-3 seconds before impact, and what a long amount of time that is when you have to start calculating.

Instinctively, I hit the breaks, and because I had my race wheels on, I immediately started to fishtail.

Bad, meet worse.

The fishtail, uncorrected, would lead to a crash. So I admitted to myself that there was no way- none- that I could veer right with enough speed to avoid getting hit and therefore I should hit the car instead.

The clarity that came- the relaxation- when I admitted that yes, I was going to be in an accident and it was up to me to have that accident on my terms, allowed me to focus.

I let go of the breaks, and the straightened out of the fishtail. Step one, that crash was off the books. I was still going to hit the car...

Or was I. I'd ruled out squirting around the car on the left because of the traffic- that line of cars- but the fishtail had me pointed a bit left. I looked down and I was still going 20 mph, so I went.

I didn't think, just went. Missed the back bumper by a good 6 inches.

I turned to give the guy the finger and a mouthful of frakitutudes and he was oblivious, smoking a cigarette and looking straight ahead. No idea he'd almost ended my ride 4 hours early, wrecked my bike or run the risk of me putting a few K of dings in his car.

I fought the urge to go back. I had another 80 miles to ride.

And that was the important thing. Accepting that there was no way I was never going to get to the end of my ride is what ultimately allowed me to do just that.

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