It was October 1st, 2002 and I awoke at about 6am. As usual I ate a light breakfast, slid into my riding gear and began to stretch. I stretched a little longer than usual on this particular morning because it was still dark out. I wanted to wait a few more minutes for the sun to illuminate the roads just a bit better. So, why not spend that time stretching and limbering up?
At about 6:20AM, I strolled out to my bicycle, dropping off my trash at the garbage can on the way. My bike was sparkling clean. I had cleaned the drive train 2 nights earlier in anticipation of a riding a lot of miles this week. I wanted my Raleigh to be ready for the heavy mileage. It was clean and well lubed with white lightning wax based lube.
I rolled out. The air was calm, cool and brisk, just the way I like it. The sun was almost fully up. It was looking like it would be a pleasant morning ride. Quickly I strode up to 20MPH and that was going to be my warm-up pace. It felt good, I was feeling strong, I pedaled out at a nice even pace to continue to warm up.
I was approaching the half mile mark, I was still on Roslyn Road. I had decided that the route I was going to take was up Roslyn Road and onto the LIE Service Road. The pace was still set at 20MPH. I came to an area where Roslyn Road passed by a side street. There was a vehicle approaching the stop sign at the end of the side street. I vaguely remember taking note of the vehicle but not too much note because it had a stop sign.
I cruised forward knowing that I had the right of way. Evidently the driver of the vehicle, which happened to be a Volkswagen, didn't agree. As I rolled in front of the Volkswagen it lurched forward quickly. I don't remember feeling the impact. All I know is that the car clipped me at the legs and I flew onto its hood. Then I rolled off the hood in front of the car and jumped up to get myself and my bike off of the road.
I was semi-dazed at this point so whatever occurred is a bit hazy. But I do remember standing by the side of the road examining myself and my bike to assess the damages. THe bike looked like it was in reasonably good shape. I saw scratches and the beginning of swelling on my right shin. I felt the heat of abrasion on my shoulder, cheek and ear. I ran my fingers over the edge of my ear and came back with blood on my fingers.
The driver of the Volkswagen then approached me to inquire as to my status. I don't really remember the conversation. In what seemed like only seconds, the police arrived and then an ambulance came shortly there after. Just before the ambulance arrived I was speaking to the police officer and suddenly became dizzy. I had to sit down because I began to stumble. I had lost my balance.
That is when I took off my helmet....
The spinning stopped and I looked at my helmet. It was crushed, shattered, broken and smeared. If I hadn't been wearing a helmet, I surely would have fractured my skull or worse....
** Photos courtesy of Scott Johnson
The suddenness of what had happened was now wearing off and now I was beginning to feel my injuries a bit. Blood had started to seep through the shoulder of my jersey. I peeled it back as it stuck to my torn flesh. My shoulder had a decent sized patch of road rash on it. It wasn't bleeding profusely. My ear throbbed and my neck began to stiffen up. The police officers continued to speak with me to assure that I was maintaining alertness.
The ambulance arrived and the officers escorted me into it. They placed my bike in the ambulance with me. They were going to drop it off at my house on the way to the hospital because they were both in the same direction. We stopped briefly to deliver my bike and then rode on to the hospital. The officer that accompanied me in the ambulance was jovial and we spoke a bit about biking. He was not a cyclist but did a bit of recreational riding, he said that he never really wore a helmet. I handed him the broken remains of my helmet and said that I recommend purchasing a helmet. He solemnly agreed that had I not been wearing my helmet, it might have lead to my demise.
** Photos courtesy of Scott Johnson
I went to the hospital, got X-rayed, examined and poked with a needle. No body parts broken, so it was time to go home.
I went home and called one of my friends who helped me with some digital shots of my injuries and then gave me and my bike a ride to the Bike Junkie to let them examine my steed.......
Then the soreness kicked in......... The moral of this story is:
Its preferable that a Volkswagen leave an impression in your helmet rather than your head. WEAR A HELMET, DON'T BE A CASUALTY!