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Tough day

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Thursday was a tough day, cycling-wise.

It started out well enough. We finally had a break in the heat, after something like 23 days with 90+ temperatures. My morning commute was downright cool, and the lower temperatures were just wonderful.

However, less than a block from work, a truck nearly hit me. They ran a stop sign, then, as I was signalling for a left turn, they passed me literally about six inches away. They nearly hit me, and it made me mad. I had to keep going straight, actually veer off further right, to avoid being hit. I was mad enough to file a complaint. It was an IU Physical Plant truck that cut me off. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the truck number or license plate, so there was little they could do. In all fairness, the manager seemed to take it seriously.

So, I wasn’t hurt, but the close call certainly highlighted the dangers you face when cycling, even if you’re doing everything right. In fact, the incident reinforced my habit of not hugging the right edge of the lane. I was about in the left tire track when this happened, which meant I had plenty of room to move over when the truck got too close. If I had been close to the curb, it could have been much worse.

My commute home was uneventful, and pleasant.

In the evening, I met up with a guy at Brown County State Park. He had a spare 29er wheel, and we had arranged to meet there so I could buy it from him. I bought the wheel, and brought tools with me. He helped me install the cassette, and I got the disc brake rotor installed just fine. Then I managed to get the brake and shifting adjusted adequately — all of this in the parking lot. For me, this is quite an accomplishment. I’m getting a little better with a wrench.

My friend Dave met me at the trailhead, and we headed out for a ride, once I was ready. We had planned to do a night ride, bringing lights and everything.

After we rode for a little while, we came across some EMS personnel in the woods, hauling gear with them. They told us they received a report that a rider had crashed, and they were looking for him. We rode on ahead to find him.

Unfortunately, we rode quite a ways, passing some more emergency folks, before we found the rider, nearly 4 1/2 miles into the woods. There were quite a few other people at the scene of the accident, and one EMS guy had made it there, and had the rider immobilized. I couldn’t tell what had happened. We rode back and forth a couple of times, trying to lead the paramedics back to the rider. We heard talk over the radios that DNR was sending a four-wheeler down the fire road to try to extract him.

I was glad that we could be of some help. But, one time when we stopped, to walk back with the EMS people, I smashed my toe on a root, really hard. Then had to walk a while, in bike shoes. My foot hurt, but again, I was just glad we could help a little, somehow.

Eventually we felt like we had done all we could to help with that situation, and had a decision to make. We had hoped to ride the new Green Valley trail again, but it was getting later than expected and I felt a little spooked from not one but two safety incidents in one day. We decided to head back, though we did take the long way back to our cars.

Despite the drama, we did manage to fit in some fun riding, and it felt great to ride my 29er again. So far, I haven’t heard any more about what happened. I’ll post an update, if any more information becomes available. I hope the rider is OK. I really have no idea what happened, or if his injuries were severe.

These incidents both served as a reminder that cycling can be dangerous, and we are all vulnerable, even if we’re doing everything right. So, let’s try to be extra vigilant out there, OK?

5 Responses to “Tough day”

  1. Chandra Says:

    Glad you are okay! Yes, there are nuts out there, be careful!!
    Peace 🙂

  2. Steve A Says:

    Besides the advantages you cite, riding further left gets you noticed more often, so such incidents are less common in addition to making evasive action easier.

  3. John Romeo Alpha Says:

    Sometimes it helps me to be reminded that cycling is not risk-free. I think a lot of the risk can be mitigated by slowing down sometimes, and also by having a vigilance thread running at all times in the brain, as you suggest. I daydream, but the vigilance process has a high priority, and dumps adrenaline when instant reaction is required. The quick turn has become almost an automatic reflex for me, like yesterday when I avoided an oblivious driveway exiting high school kid.

  4. Asher Says:

    Glad you came out of the situation with the truck okay, and that their manager seemed to take you seriously. Sounds like a heck of a day.

    Also, I’m pretty impressed that you got the disc brake and so forth working in a parking lot. Disc brakes remain the sand in my wrenching underpants 🙂

  5. David Crowell Says:

    Michael, Glad it all worked out. I hope the guy was okay. Risks are everywhere, in a car, on a ladder, at work. Stuff happens. We just try to stay out of the way.

    Asher, Your last sentence gave me strange mental images.

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