I was going through the intersection at Broad on Grant when I suddenly see a car turning left right into me. I had no time to react. All that stuff you hear about time slowing down is absolutely true, and the further away from the event you get the more you can parse out what happened. I remember seeing the hood of the car just about to hit me and thinking “You stupid…” I remember rolling onto the hood of the car and then somersaulting over the top of the car. I later found out that in doing so I caved in her windshield. As it happened I didn’t notice the pain of hitting it though, just rolling up and over. I remember feeling my arms tossed around like rubber as my backpack came off. Then I remember landing on all fours in the intersection and collapsing.
My first thought was “is anything broken?” I sort of did a system check and gingerly pushed up off the ground and thought “holy crap, nothing’s broken!” I saw the front wheel of my bike in the middle of Broad and the rest of it further along. As I stood up people stopped at the red light on Broad were getting out of the car and asking if I was okay. Several of them were calling 911. The light changed and as cars started to go through the light several people were yelling at them to stop. I saw one car drive right over the bike wheel.
Someone asked me if I needed anything, and I asked to get out of the street. I was able to walk to the sidewalk when I started to feel light-headed and sat down. At least since I had been through a major wreck before 14 years ago I knew this time that I was going into shock and needed to just sit down and shut up. The cops pulled up and the squad wasn’t far behind. I was able to give a description of the collision to the officer, all the time thinking “wow, that sure was a coherent description, all things considered.” I told him where to find my ID and gave him my phone numbers. He said he’d call my wife and take what was left of my bike to the house.
One of the paramedics asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. I said “I’m feeling okay but I know I’m going into shock, so you tell me.” They put a neck brace on me and strapped me down. Fortunately we were only a block away. This was my first ride in an ambulance as a patient, and all I could think was that it looked just like in the movies when they shoot the picture looking up at the ceiling.
The doctor came in and checked me out. They took X-rays of my knees and chest and an ultrasound to make sure nothing had been damaged internally. One of the fun moments of this was seeing a little kid in the hall while they wheeled me to X-ray who couldn’t stop looking at me. I gave her a smile and a little wave and she waved back. By this time shock was thoroughly set in and I was freezing. They had to pile a couple blankets on me.
Jessica got to the hospital a while after I was back from X-ray and we watched the election returns in the hospital room while waiting for me to get stitched up. Unfortunately, since I had come through it all okay I wasn’t a high priority. After the doc stitched me up and a paramedic training to be a nurse (who was a mountain cyclist, so lots to talk about) had wrapped me up, I gingerly made my way out to the car and home. One of the funniest moments of the night was that I had to keep telling Jessica to slow down since I couldn’t move that fast. Normally it’s totally the other way around.
There’s absolutely no question that I was extremely lucky. There’s also no question that there was nothing more I could have done to prevent the collision. I was traveling with traffic at a reasonable speed, I had the right-of-way, I had a 5 ultra-bright LED headlight on flash as well as two hanging flashers on my backpack that could have been visible from the side. I do think that several things contributed to my being able to come through it okay. I’m in good shape, so my muscles and joints were able to deal with the stresses the collision put them through. I’m an experienced cyclist, so my body instinctively knew how to take a fall. But if the hit had been a few inches further back my leg could have been broken. And if I had landed on my back instead of all fours the damage could have been much worse.
So for now, I’m simply thankful that someone was watching out for me that night.
Entry filed under: Cycling.