Taking A Hit - 07.27.98

After I left work last Friday night, I wasn't particularly feeling like doing too much after I got home. My week had been very difficult as far as workload goes, and it was 6pm before I even started heading out to my car. To make matters worse, I had been out to 2am the night before dancing, so I was feeling the effects of that.

I laid down on my couch for a few minutes when I got back to my apartment, but I didn't really feel tired. Instead, I pulled my bike out, changed my clothes, and decided to head out for a ride. At first, I thought 10 miles would be a good distance, but after I had finished that, I decided that I would go ahead and ride 20.

The temperature was bearable and there was a decent amount of wind that kept me cool as I went along. As I finished another leg of riding, I decided I would alter my route just a bit more and try to get 25 miles in for the evening.

I had just crossed the 18 mile mark in my when I started coming up on an intersection. I was on the sidewalk on the right side of the road and I could see that the walk signal ahead of me had just started flashing to don't walk. I was going about 20 miles per hour, so I decided it would be easier just to ride on through. The lights in my direction were green, and there was nobody turning my direction from my left.

Having made this decision, I picked up my pace a little and went off the curb on the near side of the intersection. In that millisecond, I realized that there was a car bearing down on me on my right-hand side.

Instinctively, I slammed on my brakes and swerved the opposite direction of the car, but it was too late. The car slammed on its brakes and slid into me. The front bumper hit my right leg right in the middle of my calf and the impact combined with my forward motion flipped me off the left side of my bike and onto the street.

I landed in sort of a strange tuck position on my left forearm and left hip, then rolled over onto my bike. I knew that I was laying in the road, so I tried to pull myself up onto the curb. As soon as I started to move, I felt pain shoot through both of my legs and I pitched forward onto the sidewalk and again rolled over onto my back. I remember swearing under my breath from the time that the car hit me until I came to a crashing stop on the pavement.

By this time, the driver of the car was out and asking if I needed help, so I asked him to get my bike out of the street. I rubbed both of my calves and hobbled to my feet and managed to take a few steps. My right leg hurt badly, but the more I walked around and stretched it, the more feeling returned to it.

I stepped off the curb and grabbed my hat and keys, which had been laying in the street. I threw them over by my bike and looked around the intersection as cars started to cautiously move again.

By this time, my thinking had settled down a bit from what it had just been, so I told the driver of the car to pull into a nearby parking lot, where he would be out of the intersection. I wheeled my bike (the chain had fallen off and the seat was twisted) over to the same place and he tried to explain to me that he had a green light. I knew that he had tried to make a right turn on the red light, but I wasn't in the mood to argue.

By this time, I was walking around fine and I didn't feel too badly. I had actually felt worse after more viscious games of Ultimate, so I declined a ride home (also helped by the fact that there were 6 people in his car) from the driver. After walking around a little bit more and deciding that I really was OK, I told the driver that I was OK, and he went ahead and left.

Only 30 seconds later, a fire engine and 2 police cars came flying up to the intersection where I had been laying only a few minutes earlier. I waved them over to where I was standing and they hopped out to see how I was doing. One of the first things they asked me was whether it had been a hit and run. I told them the situation and felt stupid for at least not having gotten the name of driver or any other information about him.

At the time that I had talked with him, my mind was still in a daze from just having been hit and the main thing I was concerned with was whether or not I was hurt. I probably made the wrong decision in not doing anything at all, but it's really hard to say what I should have done compared with what I did do because of the circumstances.

After establishing that I didn't have a walking concussion or anything else visibly serious, I was asked whether I needed a ride to the hospital. I declined twice, and was asked to sign a release form that admits that I declined said treatment.

With everything signed, and all the emergency vehicles on their way, I was left with my bike to deal with. The chain had fallen off and was jammed in the deraileur, but I managed to fix it fairly fast after I worked with it a bit. The toe-clip on the right pedal was broken at its base and there wasn't anything that I could do to fix it. Although it looked like it would be simple to set, the seat was another matter. One side of it had popped off track and made it lopsided for sitting. I pried on it for almost 10 minutes before deciding that I would just have to make the 4 mile trek home on an off-kilter seat, one butt-cheek a little higher than the other.

After getting home, I chronicled the extent of my wounds. My left forearm has a small bump on it, my left hip is a bit swollen and red, and I have a red mark on my left shoulderblade. The only part of my body where blood was drawn is on the ball of my left ankle, where my sock had been ripped open and about a dime-size piece of skin was missing.

I'll be the first to admit that I was really really lucky to not be hurt worse. I wasn't (stupidly) wearing a helmet (the excuse being that it was too hot), and I could have just as easily bounced my head (and they don't bounce so well) against the pavement as my ankle. So, I'm taking this as my wake-up call. I'm going to try to wear my helmet every time I ride now, even if it is 100 degrees out. When I think back to the actual moment of impact, it scares the crap out of me, remembering how it felt when the car hit my leg and how easily it would have been for me to be hurt much worse.

I'm also certainly going to pay even more attention to what's going on around me. I think that the incident will not only make me more attentive when I'm biking, but also when I'm out driving in my own car. I only hope that at least one of the drivers in the cars that saw it will do the same.