My Latest Near-Death Experience

I’d already put in 17 miles Saturday morning, but I had a feeling I needed to use the time I had to ride. The roads hadn’t been that clear nor the weather that warm in months. After scrubbing the toilet, bathtub and kitchen sink, I pleaded with my wife for permission to take one more ride before the day ended.

Fast forward about an hour. I’d fought the headwind the entire way out there–dizzy in the drops at a howling 15 miles per hour. After 10 miles, I noticed the sun was slowly disappearing on the horizon, so I turned around to catch the tailwind. My speed picked up to 20-22 mph as I trucked along the side of the road. There was a lot more traffic out than I expected.

A red truck to my right was turning left on to the road I was on. I couldn’t see the driver’s face, so I waited to see if he’d be waiting for me to go by. He seemed to see me, I thought, as his wheels hesitated at the stop sign for an extra moment. Then, as I neared his front bumper, I saw his wheels jerk forward …

Of course I did what anyone would do at that moment of facing mortality, I let out a nerve-wrenching scream, "HEY!" The truck driver heard me and stopped, and immediately rolled down his window. I didn’t hear what he’d said, but I stopped across the intersection and waited for more.

"You need to buy a light!" he yelled.

"Did you even look for me?" I yelled back.

"I stopped didn’t I?"

"After I yelled at you."

"There’s no bike lane on this road. You shouldn’t even be riding on it. Especially not without a light."

At about this moment in the conversation, I realized that he was just startled and having a bit of a realization himself, so instead of slamming him with another accusational piece of sarcasm, I responded, "Thanks for your concern for my health."

"Stop telling me how to drive!" What the heck?

"I’m not telling you how to drive! Did you hear what I said?! I said, ‘Thanks for your concern.’"

I think he softened up and responded something like, "Okay, fine," and we parted ways. I couldn’t help but think, as I was riding home in the dark, that I’d become one of those Cannondale-riding jerks Tayfur was talking about, or worse, one of those lowlife politicians Al Maviva’s always talking about. Yikes.

Upon reflection, the guy did have a point. I needed to take greater responsibility for my own safety. After all, my in-laws did give me a reflective vest for Christmas. Why not use it for night rides, eh? Or at least bring it along. He wasn’t too disrespectful in his comments. Actually, he was pretty pleasant compared to some of the other encounters I’ve had with drivers. Maybe there’s hope for the motorists of this world yet.

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6 thoughts on “My Latest Near-Death Experience

  1. Unknown

    Yes on the vest and light. It\’s worth it.After my two year stint, I rode everywhere and worked at a bike shop. One day I was out riding and had a near-miss at an intersection. They guy yelled, I skidded to a halt and started yelling at him. He got out of his truck and I got off my bike and we went chest to chest yelling. I wound up stating that I had concerns about his legitimacy and parentage and called him a pathetic old man, etc. . .. There was a local BMX track that started allowing mt. bikes to ride thier track and have races, and I was into it. The bike store I worked at decided to put on a little race series for mt. bikes on this BMX track. We had a casual meeting at the bike store, and guess who was the representative from the BMX track? Guess, go ahead. Yep, it was the guy with the questionable parentage. It was the 3rd most embarrased I\’ve ever been and probably the most ashamed. It turned out he was a great guy and really involved in getting kids into cycling.Botched!

  2. Tom Stormcrowe

    Agreed on the vest and light! If visibility is poor, I use a Blaze orange hunting safety vest, Flashing lights and flashing tails as well! I never rely in them totally either: Witness the earlier this winter eventy of hucking a 2 foot curb and then riding over a 6-7 foot plow pile on the edge of K-Marts parking lot after a snow storm to avoid being run over by what turned out to be a pretty nice little old lady turning right right in front of me. She actually came back when she realized what she did. She had apparently lost view of me and had assumed I was no longer alongside of her. Instead, I was in her blind spot.

  3. Zed

    I\’ve never had a bike-related one of those moments, Botched, but believe me when I tell you I\’ve had those moments. I got in an argument with a guy about my driving once only to discover two days later that he and I would be working together at my new construction job. He actually apologized to me and said something like, "I was having a rough day that day." Nice guy.

  4. AO

    i think you\’d have to have pretty big cajones to slap the hood of a truck driven by some of the potato farmin\’ hicks here in idaho… that\’s the bad thing about riding in a small town, you\’re stuck on roads that don\’t have enough traffic to keep people from catching up and running over you. plus, (as already stated) you\’re likely to see that same guy sooner or later. i tell ya, i never realized what a small world it is until i moved to idaho. or was it: what a small idaho it is until i moved here?

  5. Unknown

    You have a knack for finding the silver lining in such experiences. Maybe I could learn a thing or two from you. I think I would\’ve unleashed a few well-chosen expletives and let him have it. I mean, whether I\’m right or wrong. Anyway, glad that was the worst of it. And yes, man, dig out that ugly, last-season\’s reflective vest, whether your inner style-self dictates it or not!

  6. tayfuryagci

    you really should use lights, leds are really no-good go for a nice halogen headlamp and a good rear lamp. canondale-jerks are jerks to other cyclists (non-cannondale cyclists) many cannondale riders are pretty decent people but when they see another cyclist on a different brand bike THEN the monster within awakes!hmmm potatoes (or po-tahtoes)

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