Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Just A Matter Of Time

When you spend so much time riding within city limits, in city parks and on city streets, it's bound to happen. It's just a matter of time.

Today, about two and a half hours into my three hour training ride, I got hit by a car.

Seneca Park here in Louisville is a big, 1.5 mile loop that makes for an excellent warm up/cool down cruise before or after a long ride. It's flat, peaceful, and usually full of attractive, athletic women doing attractive, athletic things. I start and end most of my rides in Seneca.

Seneca is a little dangerous, though, because the park allows automobile parking on both sides of the road. That means cars must cross to the right through the bike lane in order to park in the gravel that borders the grass of the park itself. Generally there is plenty of room and clear views for both cars and riders to avoid close calls, but every once in a while somebody isn't paying attention.

Like today. I had just rounded the Western edge of the loop and was heading East towards Canons Lane when a white Honda pulled up next to me. Without a turn signal or any kind of warning at all, the car swerved to the right, directly into the bike lane. Going 20 miles an hour, I had no chance to avoid it and slammed into the side of the Honda, taking a rearview mirror to the thigh and falling off the bike into the grass on the side of the road. Thankfully he hit me before the gravel section, or it really would have been messy.

It's funny, I always think about how I'll react in these kinds of situations, and always come up with logical, level-headed strategies should I ever find myself, say, hit by a car in the park.

When it actually happened, all I could think to do was scream obscenities and kick the shit out of the guy's door. I picked myself off the ground and immediately started banging on his window, scaring the crap out of the dude in the passenger seat. Of course, two spoiled teenage boys climbed out of the car, as I continued my obscenity-laced lecture on proper mirror use and defensive driving techniques.

They honestly looked terrified of me. It was beautiful.

I picked up the bike and found it to be relatively unscathed, as was myself, so I hopped on and rode away, trying to get away from them before I did something stupid and violent. I used the adrenaline rush as fuel for a quick ride to the bike shop, where my mechanic trued my slightly-bent front wheel. I then finished the rest of my ride despite a sore quad and some frayed nerves.

I'm pretty lucky to have come out okay, and very lucky to have come out with an undamaged bike. Other than a bruised thigh and a scratch on my chest, I'm fine.

It was bound to happen sooner or later.