Schwinn Collegiate

Monday, March 16, 2015

Prologue

So I disappeared.....for a long time.  I highly suspect no one really cares, but I always feel guilty suddenly stopping.  I described this blog as a journal of my love affair with biking.  Perhaps that was a mistake. I still love biking, but like any love affair, the highs always precede the lows.  When I started riding my bike as an adult I instantly fell in love (though I also loved it as a child). I rode further and further each time and was so proud of my accomplishments.  I was able to ride far and able to ride fast.  I did my first century. I felt so free and so amazing.

Then I broke my hip when I took what seemed like a harmless spill off my bike onto a rock.  It was the most painful and difficult thing I'd ever endured, but I worked hard and got back onto the bike.  I was able to ride again before I could walk.  Actually, two years later, I still don't walk right.  I limp, fatigue quickly, and experience pain almost constantly.  The doctors have no idea why, and I've lost hope that it'll get better. Like any good love affair, I'm riddled with scars and pain.

I worked hard to get back onto the bike and ride.  I grew stronger and just appreciated being able to ride, never mind being fast or able to ride far. Yet, I was determined to get back to my previous riding condition.  Yet, only a few months into being back on the bike I suffered another setback.  I was hit by a car.

It was a bad hit and truthfully I think the car took the worst of it.  Yet, I left the accident with anger and fear.  The roads, once my playground, were suddenly unnerving and scary.  Angry and reckless drivers seemed to haunt me everywhere I went.  Yet, I wasn't going to let fear keep me off the road.  The anger was worse still.  The police refused to cite the driver. The driver didn't have any insurance. I just couldn't get past the anger of how unjust it was.  This was compounded by continually sharing the road with drivers who were dangerous and sometimes outright hostile.  But I pressed on.

Not long after that I was riding with my best friend (and it felt better to ride with a friend - there is less fear and it feels safer somehow), when masochistic flagellation turned to sadism.  Biking was nothing special to my friend: he just wanted to exercise.  On the ride he had an accident.  I was in front of him, so I didn't see it, but the long and short of it is that he flipped over his handle bars after hitting a pot hole and he hit his head (with a helmet securely on).  I ran to him to find him seizing in the road as his front wheel spun in circles in the center of the street.  The ambulance came and took him away.

Breaking my hip was nothing compared to the pain of watching my best friend in a medical induced coma as his brain swelled and bled from the traumatic brain injury.  Seeing him and not knowing if he'd survive was awful.  Having to look his mother in the eye was almost as bad.  Not knowing what he'd be like when he awoke was probably the worst.  He did finally awaken.  Half his body was paralyzed and he couldn't remember much of the previous year.  His recovery was incredibly difficult.  It isn't over yet either.  I'm not sure if it ever will be.

This incident shook me to the core and really it still does.  Getting back on the bike wasn't easy after that, but I knew I had to face my fear and embrace my love.  Honestly, riding hasn't been the same.  I still love it and still work hard at it.  I even did another century.  But every ride is haunted by thoughts of that accident.  Every minute of every ride.  It's not as bad if I ride with a buddy, but how can I invite friends to ride with me after that experience?

My love affair seems to have turned abusive.  At the end of last season, I decided to try a bike race, and it resulted in my fracturing my clavicle.  A very common occurrence for a bicyclist, yet still quite a painful one, and one that simply compounds the other accidents. I feel those around me react when they hear of each new accident.  They shake their heads as if I'm an addict who just won't learn.   Perhaps they're right.

I do still love riding, and I plan to ride this season as well as I think it is wrong and perhaps a bit superstitious to be scared away from something you love.  Yet, I can't bring myself to post regularly on this blog.  No one wants to hear about my obsession, and I feel quite humbled and like maybe I should just shut up.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Right Hand Turn

Apparently, not hi-vis enough!


I've had a couple of close calls with cars in the past that over take me and take a right.   I remember having read that this is one of the most common types of accident.  Perhaps it was only a matter of time, but yesterday it happened.  A car overtook me and took a right hand turn into me.

The hit was a bit frightening, but it was slow and I mostly just slid down the side of the car.  I came away with some scratches and bruises, but was glad when I realized my fragile hip was still intact.  There was an ambulance two cars back and they took me to the hospital just to be sure about my stupid hip.  I was horrified though when the police officer came into the hospital and told me he didn't cite the driver.  He said that the damage on the driver's car was towards the back so it was my fault as I hit him.  I was completely mortified.  I had damaged the back section of the car because that is the part that I slid down, not the part I necessarily impacted.  When I tried to explain this, the officer said I need to follow the rules of the road even though I was on a bicycle.  I told him I had and that I was allowed to pass on the right on a bicycle.  He either didn't care or didn't want someone to contradict him as he was certainly unfazed by my explanation.  I think the cause of all of this is general ignorance of bicycling laws and the lack of suburban cyclists.  When everyone in town rides their Huffy mountain bike on the sidewalk ignoring the rules of the road, no one expects a bicyclist to be part of traffic, knows the actual rules, or believes a rider who tries to explain that he was following the rules.

In the end, my argument didn't really matter, as the driver has no insurance....even though everyone in Massachusetts is required by law to have it.   So, that was kind of a bummer.

I always go out of my way to obey the rules of the road....even if it means waiting for a car to pull up behind me to cause the red light to finally trigger even though there is no traffic on the road I want to turn onto.  So I guess what upsets me the most is the officer's implication that the accident was somehow my fault....well that and the fact that I wore a nerdy hi-vis vest for the first time, still got hit, and the vest ripped...grrr!