Sure, I’ll admit it, I was out cruising, looking for a good time. Nothing wrong in that. Nothing illegal. I’ll also admit I was lit, lit stem to stern, my pulsating anterior dancing to a syncopated disco-ball beat while my flashy tail did the bump and grind in the red light district. Hey, life is short, a man’s gotta have fun.
I wasn’t trying to hide, hell I was dressed for the part from bottom to top. My white shoes complemented my garish socks, my tight tuchus resplendent in curve hugging spandex, and my white sleeveless top cut low to give voyeurs a glimpse of my pecs. Oh, I’m a sport about my sport, I don’t pussyfoot around, I pedal both sides of the street and just to make sure everyone knows exactly what I’m up to I top off my ensemble with the piece de resistance, the sine qua non of fashion, an electric pink top hat. Are you hot and sweaty yet? Well so was I.
Between June of 1980 and June of 1987 I was struck by cars on three separate occasions while cycling. Three times. In the ensuing 32 years I have logged around 175,000 miles, that’s 280,500 kilometers or approximately seven trips around the planet, without being hit. That’s a lot of miles without getting smacked by a car and I’m proud that for just shy of 33 years I’ve been able to say, “I’ve been hit by cars three times while cycling, the last time was in 1987. I hope to be able to say that for the rest of my life.”
That was my hope, but it’s only technically my reality because on Wednesday May first Robbie G decided that his stop sign was optional and pulled right out in front of me. You know the old saying, right? “Wednesday’s child is full of woe?” I just wish Roberto had spelled it w-h-o-a instead of w-o-e. Whoa! Flying through the air is not what this fat fifty-eight-year-old man had in mind. Best laid plans, huh?
I cruise through Robby’s neighborhood frequently, I mean it is a designated bike route and all, a place where the speed limit is low and drivers should know to be on the lookout for cyclists. You’d think that, but then again that implies that drivers are thinking, that their phones are out of reach, out of sight and that they realize how easy it is to kill a cyclist or pedestrian with a two-ton vehicle.
Hey, hey! I can hear you now, “Those darn cyclists! They don’t obey the rules, they don’t belong on the streets!” Well this guy does. I use my bike for transportation, recreation and transubstantiation, not the kind where bread becomes flesh, but rather where I go from a flaccid, tired, stress filled, nearly three-score old man to one who knows he’s saving the planet when he cycles to work, preserving his body anytime he rides and utilizing a drug-free, healthful alternative to pill-popping my anxiety away. Oh! And I obey the rules of the road. Try riding 5,500 miles per year since 1980 and surviving while being an outlaw. Survival is predicated on riding predictably.
And I make it super easy to see me, with my bright, contrasting clothes, retro-reflective attire and brighter than bright intermittently pulsating head and taillights. What’d you think I meant when I said I was totally lit when I was out cruisin’?
Nope, it was all Robbie G, a man who turns twenty-six this month, a man a mere tenth of a mile from his home as he chose to cruise through the stop sign at the end of Kettlebridge Drive and turn directly in front of me as I made my left-turn-signaled, no stop sign, 100% right-of-way left from southbound Stoneleigh onto Kettlebridge. That was the plan but the reality was a short flight through the air followed by a very abrupt stop. Ow!
I was livid. DUDE RAN A STOP SIGN! Boom! Right in front of me. I managed to slam on my brakes hard enough to stop before hitting Robby’s red SUV. I managed to not hit it by slamming on my brakes hard enough on the slight downhill to launch me through the air which allowed me to fly a few feet before gravity reminded me of just how much she sucks! Bam! Stars in the sky? Nope, just in my head. (Note- I did not hit my head and was wearing my brand new, latest and greatest ,WaveCell bicycle helmet. In hot pink. So I’m more visible.)
I’m not sure which came out of Robby’s mouth first, the statement that made my anger rise or the one that allowed me to calm down. While I lay on the ground befuddled and bedazed Bobby got out of his car to check on me. His statement of, “I didn’t see you!” did nothing but raise my ire.
My retort of, “Dude! You ran a stop sign!” was delivered with vitriol and Robert’s saving grace was his immediate inquiry concerning my well-being.
Proverbs 15:1 tells us, “A kind word turneth away wrath,” (I googled that; I ain’t no chapter -n- verse man) and Robert did. Whether he proclaimed his shock at having caused my crash first or inquired to my well-being first, his thoughtless declaration and inquiry concerning how I was came staccato, one then the other, budda-bing, budda-bang, he made me go boom.
Robert turned down my completely appropriate flee or flight response and helped me gather my things. He provided me with his phone number, gave me his driver’s license to photograph and remained calm and collected. Was I pissed? You bet your ass, but we conducted ourselves in appropriate fashion and, after checking to make sure I was at least relatively well, my bike ride-able and assuring the neighbor who came to check on the commotion that we were fine, I rode home.
NOTICE: This is a stupid thing to do! ALWAYS seek medical attention after a crash as life threatening injury may not manifest itself.
The next day, despite minor stiffness in neck and back, I cycled to work. (Different bike. Robert banged up my fancy 20 month old supergroovycool racer.) I still have to get my baby looked at but she is relatively unscathed and I’m planning a bike ride through Rob’s neighborhood this morning. Wish me luck! There’s a lot of inattentive drivers out there.
Hey! Rules of the road rock! If we all obey them then we can all get along just fine.