Monday, July 21, 2008

Bad Wreck (aka "Stupid Drivers Who Run Stop Signs")

This post was going to be about my 30th high school reunion on Saturday, but unfortunately that will have to wait because I'm writing (actually typing with just my right hand because my left hand is useless at the moment) about a bad wreck I had yesterday, and I feel very lucky to be alive.

I was at about mile 40 of a planned 50-60 miler and was on a 4 lane backstreet of a neighborhood that is probably overall the quietest and safest stretch of road I ride on. I am a VERY defensive cyclist, and any time I see a car approaching a stop sign, light or intersection I always presume they will do the wrong thing. I was in the right lane and could hear and then see a car approaching the cross street to my right. I had the right of way with no stop sign, and the approaching car had a stop sign. Per usual, I applied my breaks to slow down a bit, and also checked my mirror to make sure the left lane beside me was open in case this car did the wrong thing (note to avid cyclists who laugh at people like me with a mirror). It appeared at first that this guy was going to stop, but instead he just kept on cruising out into the right lane where I was. Stupid thing is, had he been paying attention AT ALL, he should have looked my way regardless to check for oncoming cars, but he didn't. There was no sun in his eyes, nothing to block his view of me, he was just flat out careless. Since I knew the left lane was open, I began moving over into it, but this idiot just kept on moving over across the right lane and into the left lane until I was forced into the curb.

I went over the handlebars and the next thing I know I am lying on my face in the road with my bike on top of me. I knew instantly that I was hurt, but could not tell how badly. I laid there for a moment trying to regain my composure. By this time, the driver had pulled back over into the right hand lane, stopped, rolled his window down and says, "Are you ok?" I can't really repeat what I said to him next, but it was not kind. I was yelling at him asking him why he did not stop, and all he could muster was a feable, "oh, I thought I did." Then I said, "Well, IF you did, then why did you pull out in front of me and continue to move over until I was forced into the curb?", to which of course he had no response.

The damage to my body was pretty good. I have a long and bloody scrape on my right elbow, bloody knuckles, bloody left knee, but the worst of the injuries is to my left hand. When I hit the pavement, I obviously braced most of my fall by putting my hands out. The back of my left hand is so swollen that you can not see anything but a dome of smooth skin. My left pinky and ringer finger have joints that have mounds on them, and I can barely even move them. The palm of my left hand is swollen and bruised looking. Also, I hit with such force that it literally ripped my watch off of my left arm and the watch face took skin off part of my left wrist. I do not know at this point if anything in my left hand is broken. Right after the wreck, I noticed the swelling there and was able to (not without some pain) bend my left pinky and ring finger, but this morning can not move them at all. If they are not better by tomorrow morning, I will probably go in for some xrays.

As for my bike, there are some good scratches on the left gear lever, which also got bent in slightly, and scratches to other parts of the bike, but not the frame. My cycling shorts and top both got scraped up pretty good and have holes in them. Thankfully the bike was fully functional and I was able to ride it home ok.

Not once, not a single solitary time, did this guy say he was sorry. I think that infuriated me more than his lack of driving skills. I made him give me his insurance information, and I made it VERY clear to him that if he dared to say that he stopped and/or yielded to me that I would have myself hooked up to a polygraph immediately and I expected him to do the same. I can tell you without any doubt that had I not been a safe and defensive driver that he would have run over me and things would be way worse. One thing that has surprised me, I am not scared in the least bit to ride again, I am quite simply extremely pissed off. This was 100% unequivocally this guy's fault, and I am sure that has something to do with my demeanor.


Jim said...

Man are you lucky. There have too many cyclists killed here in B'ham the last several years. Some accidental and some not. Like you, I am very defensive on my bike and geeky enough to have a mirror also! Some of my buddies say it slows them down too much . . . right. Obviously, I don't ride with them too much.

At least the guy stopped and gave you his info and it wasn't a hit and run.

Hope it isn't too much a setback in your training. Keep that head on a swivel and be careful!

Bob Gentile said...

Idiots for sure on the road!!!

...Glad your OK...I might have thrown a punch with my good hand :-0

I live in FL and what I see here is insane, so clueless. I don't ride a bike, running on the FL roads is dangerous enough.

Keep Looking out and Hope you recover well.

The Un-Runner said...

Yikes! Glad you're ok! My dh cycles, and I'm always worried about idiots! I run on country roads, and have jumped into the ditch more than once.

Good luck with your Ironman!