Well I nearly started the clock over again today. I've been cycling pretty regularly to get my fitness level ready for full recovery and a return to running. I have high hopes of placing well in the Mt. Diablo Trails Challenge this spring and to do so will require a lot of running over the next few months. Well, I'm not running at all right now, and some days it even hurts to walk. So, until I can get in for an X-ray I sit, worry, and cycle. But today I nearly put the entire shebang on hold.
Descending Pine St. toward Alhambra on my road bike, I was approaching the last hard right corner at around 25 mph when a small car darted out into the road and sped off down the hill in front of me. It pulled away from me as it entered the corner, but the next instant it was standing still. I found myself faced with one of those "make the best of a bad situation" moments. I was leaning into the hard right turn in the middle of the lane. A pull to the right would have only placed me on the right hand side of the small black trunk, probably spitting safety glass through broken teeth. Inertia was in favor of a pull to the left, but all rules of the road prohibited such a move. Rules became unimportant as I chose a few more moments intact over a breach of the California Driving Code.
It occurred to me in that spectacularly lucid eternity which parses the milliseconds of pending disaster, that the stoppage was the result a second vehicle - ahead of that small black car I had just passed on the left. That particular vehicle - a red Nissan SUV - was waiting to turn left, indicating that another oncoming car was imminent. All of these thoughts, plus the fact that I had not shaved my legs yet, and would likely be wishing I had, sauntered through my consciousness as I rocketed past stopped cars.
Struggling to maintain control of my bike, and avoid allowing the ever capricious friend and fiend, inertia, to pull me into oncoming traffic, I rolled between the double-yellow like on rails, feathering my brakes to keep friction and my tires in an amicable relationship. Too much on the brakes and I would be sliding under the oncoming traffic instead of flying over their hoods. Oh, the decisions we aren't truly given the requisite time to make...
And then bad got suddenly worse. Traffic cleared.
The red Nissan finding a gap in the oncoming traffic, pulled left.
The large dent near the rear must have been my right shoulder, and the dent ahead of the gas door must have been my right brake hood.
I lay in nearly the exact middle of the intersection for a second as all of the witnesses witnessed from the safety of their cars - and then drove away. The poor gal in her red Nissan felt so bad that I eventually had to put my hand on her shoulder and tell her I would be ok. Because I am. Basically.
The bike came through remarkably well with only minor scuffs and about 1 year's worth of wear removed from the rear tire. I scrubbed some skin off my right elbow, and have a bizarre streak of road rash right down the middle of my right shin.
I finished my ride, but I took it easy. I took the corners a little slower, and looked just a little harder around the corners to see what might be lurking. Cars were definitely the enemy for about 25 miles and that ominous crunch kept replaying in my mind.
The good news - I think I can keep my plans to ride on Saturday. The physical injuries seem to be superficial, but the psychological ones will keep me tentative in the corners again for a few months. And, I suspect I'll be getting a phone call from her insurance company tomorrow. Fun. Wish I could find that little black car with no brake lights...