Getting Bumped on the Road

5:46 AM

Yesterday I got “bumped” by a truck on my road ride.  Thankfully the word “hit” would be too strong, but it was a jarring experience in other ways.

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We were in the last 30 minutes of a two-and-a-half hour endurance ride.  The road we were on has steady traffic, but also has a wonderful 5-foot wide shoulder.  From our right, a man in a truck was backing out of his driveway.  It was one of those moments that began small – you notice something in the midst of the million other things you are noting: tree, garbage can, truck, time for a gear shift, car passing on the left… 

At some point, the vectors begin to pop up in my brain and I realize my line and his line will intersect.  But surely he will stop – there are cars constantly passing on my left, the Spouse is ahead of me and we’re both rather visible, I even see that the driver has his head turned our way as he continues to back out of the driveway – surely he will stop?

My thought process is reduced to a list of actions: I brake, I drift into the street to avoid him, the tailgate makes contact with my right hip, the truck stops, my bike skips slightly left after the impact but stays upright, I hear a crunch behind me, I stop, I get off my bike, my rear wheel is locked up, I look back and see an SUV that was behind me has run into the truck just after I slipped by with my bump.

The next 30 minutes are a strange mixture of gathering insurance information and reassuring bystanders that I am ok.  I stayed on my bike.  I only have an abrasion on my hip from the impact.  My bike appears fine (took it to the shop – just needed a wheel truing) after the Spouse re-sets the wheel and adjusts the brake.  The police officer takes a report, gives us all some paperwork, and tells us we can go.  We ride the last eight miles home.

It is only after something like this, when you have time to consider other possible outcomes, that you feel fear.  What if I had been hit from the road as I attempted to avoid him?  What if it had been more of a bump?  What if all three vectors had collided (truck, me, SUV)?  Questions like this can drive you crazy, so you focus on the actual outcome: you are fine.  Moving forward all you can do is remember the number one rule in cycling: always assume the car doesn’t see you.

Oh, and go back to the dirt on the mountain bike today…

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