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Hit by a truck on yesterday’s solo metric century

Monday, May 4, 2015 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

May
4
2015

I’m not much for drama, so I want to state right up front that I’m okay and–more importantly–my bike is okay. I’m a little scraped up and sore this morning, but nothing’s broken.

I always think it’s odd when someone is involved in an accident like the one I had yesterday and people say to him or her, “You were very lucky!” I figure lucky people don’t get hit by trucks in the first place. However, when you watch the video footage of the wreck I think it’s safe to say that I was, relatively speaking, very lucky. I could have easily been killed.

I’ll explain what happened, and then post the video footage and pictures…

It was a beautiful morning, and I decided to do a solo metric century at a pretty good pace. The 104 kilometer (65 mile) route I selected is one I’ve done before, and I know the roads well.

I spent the first 32 kilometers (20 miles) or so warming up, averaging 21 mi/h (33.8 km/h).

Just past mile 20 there’s a nice long 18 kilometer (a little over 11 miles) stretch along a great road called highway 42. At that point I was well warmed up, and I decided to hit that entire 18 kilometer section of road pretty hard. I wasn’t looking to break any wattage PRs, but I wanted to work.

I averaged a 40.4 km/h (25.1 mi/h) on that stretch of road, and put out an average of 287 watts. My average heart rate was 177 BPM. So, I was working, but not even close to the ragged edge (I could sustain a little over that level of effort for more than an hour). I only mention this because it’s important to know that I was not so destroyed that I wasn’t thinking clearly.

Anyway, as I completed the 18 kilometer interval, I was definitely ready for a few minutes of active recovery, but still feeling quite good.

At this point I had a lefthand turn to make onto SE Highway 450. As I approached the intersection, I turned and looked behind me to see if it was clear. There was a truck approaching, but it was far enough away that I could safely take the lane.

When I need to make a turn at a busy intersection, I always do the same thing: I double check to make sure I’m clear, I stand up on my pedals to make myself as visible as possible and, arm fully outstretched and pointing at an upward angle, I indicate the direction of my upcoming turn. I continue to hold that signal as I do what’s called “taking the lane”, which is simply moving to control the traffic lane before the turn is made.

As I began to make my turn, the truck behind me accelerated, crossed the double yellow line and attempted to illegally pass me on the left at the intersection. I slammed into the truck, and physics took over from there.

Thankfully the driver stopped. The entire event was captured on my Garmin Virb camera. Here it is, fully unedited and raw (I did add subtitles when the audio was not clear):

In reviewing the footage I must concede that I should have taken the lane more aggressively. That doesn’t make the driver any less at fault, but I don’t care about being “right”, I care about being as safe as possible.

Bouncing off the concrete is never fun, but all things considered I got off very light. If I’d been just a foot further ahead of the truck I would have been hit straight on. I also could have been hit by other vehicles after I went down, or wound up under the truck that hit me.

This stings a little.

This stings a little.

Anyone have a sewing needle I can borrow?

Anyone have a sewing needle I can borrow?

 

After the wreck I took a little time to carefully check my bike over. The wheels were both rubbing the brake pads (you can hear this in the video as I move my bike off the road), but they were not out of true and only needed to be reset in the dropouts.

My left handlebar was bent in, and the bars had twisted around. I had the tools with me to straighten the bars out, and did so.

Because I fell on my left side, my derailleur hanger was spared! There appeared to be absolutely no physical damage to the frame or components. My bike was safe to ride.

I called my wife and my mom (both of whom follow my rides on Garmin LiveTrack) to let them know that I was okay. Lisa wanted to come get me, but I really wanted to complete the ride (I had about 30 miles to go at that point). I told her I’d call if I could not continue, but I was going to roll on.

I think the bars hit my knees, because my knees were aching pretty good for the remainder of the ride. The worst part, though, was the giant blister that had formed on my left hand. It rapidly filled with fluid, and I could not grab my bars without experiencing a tremendous amount of pain and pressure.

I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of road rides, and I’ve not worn gloves on 3 of them. Well, wouldn’t ya know it, but yesterday was one of those three days. It’s actually sort of funny in an ironic way.

Anyway, I’m okay, and will be riding today. Sore, but riding.

Cyclists, stay safe out there! Motorists, please be patient and careful. A few seconds is not worth a human life.

The entire ride with all data can be found here.

John Stone Fitness Comments

30 Responses to “Hit by a truck on yesterday’s solo metric century”
  1. John… the amazing thing was that your heart rate did not spike after you were hit… I know mine would have been pounding through my throat at that point.

    Glad the bike is ok… and that you are too.

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  2. Being a fellow road rider this is tough to watch!! I’m very glad you’re okay!!!
    On a side note your live stats synced with your live video is sweet. Love your technology. One time I laid my bike down and people were asking me if I’m alright i remember saying all i care about is my bike!!! Funny!!

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  3. I have to say that video scared the crud outta me – it definitely could have been worse. I think I would have had a similar reaction, more worried about damage to my bike. It sounds like you did sustain some proper damage – wouldn’t that guy’s car insurance have covered a claim? You might find later that there’s some damage that you didn’t notice right away.

    Thanks for the reminder to be safe out there!

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  4. My mind went to thinking the worst when the wife gasped at Lisa’s first FB post yesterday. I don’t know how you do it… I’d never trust people enough to ride a road bike. Now that I’ve seen the “evidence”, it went as well as anything like that could have… happy to see the damage and aftermath were minor. Stay safe out there.

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    • Thanks, Roger. Most riders who log a significant number of miles on the road eventually become used to the the cars whizzing by just a few feet (and, unfortunately, sometimes mere inches) away, the inattentive/distracted drivers and even the outright assholes who cuss and sometimes hurl objects… but no matter how many times I head out for a ride there’s always a voice in the back of my mind that reminds me that this could be the last. I’d rather die doing something I love than sit behind a desk dying slowly of something I hate.

      On a slightly macabre, yet humorous note, sometimes when I’m riding and a really shitty song finds its way to my playlist, I think, “Please don’t let this be the last song I ever hear.” 🙂

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  5. I’ve had a few crashes (fortunately none serious) and more than my fair share of near-misses over the years. Watching that footage brought back a “pucker factor” 🙂 Congrats on staying so composed. Taking the lane is definitely the right move and you’re right – taking it more aggressively may have helped. Stay safe!

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    • I get so worked up when some a-hole tries to quickly pass on my left after I’ve clearly signaled and am doing everything right. Unfortunately around 20 miles later I’ve forgotten their license plate number, and have no real contacts in the PD either. Speaking of which, was an officer called here? Why or why not?

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      • I was asked that same question on Facebook. This was my reply:

        I certainly thought about calling the police, but there were a few reasons I decided not to. The driver was very apologetic (you can hear him say, “I’m very sorry, sir” at least two or three times in the video), he definitely did not seem to be intoxicated in any way, he stopped after the accident, he offered to render aid/call the medics/take me somewhere, he willingly gave me his driver’s license, he moved aside so I could get his plate number, I wasn’t seriously injured…. Yeah, it could have ended in tragedy, but it didn’t. It was an accident. He made a really bad mistake (I’ve certainly made my share of those). I don’t think anyone involved in something like this (who is not a sociopath or something) is going to come away unchanged. I’ll bet anything the next time he encounters a cyclist he’s going to be much more careful, and that’s all that matters in this particular case, IMO.

        That was my reasoning at the time, and 24 hours later I don’t regret it. That said, I would totally understand if someone else in the same situation would choose to call the police. If I had required medical attention, I definitely would have involved the police.

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    • Yeah, I was actually kind of shocked when I saw the footage. Normally I take the lane sooner, and much more aggressively than I did in this case. Definitely an error on my part, and something I won’t soon forget.

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