[Aside: well, I kind of gave away the climax of the post with that title, didn't I - but read on]
As you know, Dan convinced me to do the 35K bike ride in the Cycle for CHEO. Despite the week of forecasts threatening rain and even thunder showers on the weekend, the weather turned out perfect – warm and overcast, with just the hint of the sun breaking through. Even the annoyance of not being able to take the bus to the event (due to none of them having bike racks, despite the fact that Dan called OCTranspo earlier in the week and was assured they would all have bike racks) dissipated quickly. I still want to ask OCTranspo why their policy is that it’s ok to have strollers inside the bus, but not bikes.
We enjoyed a very pleasant 29K of the ride, our team (plus Mike, who abandoned his team due to the realization that cycling with Team Awesome would be way more… well, awesome) managing to stay together, or close enough, throughout. I was very happy with how I wasn’t really feeling tired and sore at all. It had been a long time since I’d gone on any sort of longer bike ride, and I was enjoying it immensely. I was even already looking forward to the longer “biathlons” Dan and Chris had planned to pubs in Manotick and Kemptville – with the two sports being cycling and beer drinking. We enjoyed a leisurely speed around 20 km/h over most of the course, which was pretty easily maintained by all on the team, including Chris who was towing the large trailer with Trevor inside, and Boj, who said it was also her first longer ride of the season. Yay girl power! We all even had plenty of breath left to spare for casual conversation. The ride along the canal was gorgeous, and the experimental farm is so pretty! We passed by areas that I only had a vague idea existed, and will have to go back to. The tulips were in full bloom already, WAY too early by Ottawa standards – the Tulip festival is not starting until next weekend, but at the rate the tulips are going, I’m not sure what will be left to look at by the end of the festival 3 weeks from now. The tulips we saw are in their prime right about now.
We were getting close to the final turnaround point at Lincoln Fields, and I was starting to look forward to the downhill coast back to the War Museum. Idyllic, almost. This part of the course was on the Parkway, with one direction (with its two lanes) devoted to the cycling event, with the right lane containing the cyclists going westbound and the left lane for the cyclists eastbound on their return leg to the War Museum. I was just passing a group, still well within my lane, barely going faster than them – when I saw two kids, maybe 5-6 years old, going the opposite direction, with no adults easily visible around them. That already perked my attention, so I was keeping an eye on them, and I think I was even slowing down because I was wary of them. I think I was checking to see whether I could drift even farther to the right, but of course there was the group I was passing – when the two little punks started swerving, the farther one ran into the closer one, and both tumbled and kept going right across into our lane and into my path with just a few feet to go. That’s where things get hazy, beyond slamming my brakes, thinking JFC and hearing the sickening noise of my bike slamming into theirs and them some tilting horizons as I went skidding across the pavement. Hellooooooooooooooo, road rash.
Given what actually happened, in retrospect I know I got off fairly lightly, and should be happy about that. I have a good-sized road rash patch on my hip and back, and probably a good bruise underneath to last at least a few weeks. And just when I was getting back in shape and the weather was warming up enough that I thought about biking to work tomorrow! I’m walking, although the tightness all across the hip and lower back is making that a bit of a challenge – and the doctor said it’ll be way worse tomorrow. I’m out at least a couple hundred dollars in repairs to the bike, given a bent disc brake, damaged handlebars (at least the ends), along with possible damage to the front wheel and (god please no) fork. I’m loath to think what the damage would’ve been, though, if this had happened in front of a pack of the 70K cyclists, whom we saw travelling in drafting lines of 10-15 people, blasting past everyone else with nary a break between them, and passing people right along the line between the two directions.
But I somehow managed not to hit my head, or demolish the camera that had been in the backpack I was carrying. I think I held on to the bike itself just long enough that it stopped me from putting my hands out in front to catch myself and possibly scraping and breaking hands/wrists. Miraculously, my clothes also survived the encounter with the road with no apparent damage. Thanks MEC! (I realized just now that all of the outer layers I had on came from MEC) I also got to sit in an ambulance, although I decided against going to the hospital with them (even though we ended up going there as a precaution after a second thought, anyway). Dan acted adorably jealous (mostly for show, I hope) when I got taken inside by the male paramedic to check out the scrapes.
I keep going over what I remember of the crash in my head, trying to come up with what else I could have done to end up with less damage. I keep thinking I could have tried to swerve around them on the left, against their direction of motion, but I still doubt I would’ve made it, as I barely remember any time between seeing them go down into my path and hitting them – so I know I was very close to them. I don’t know if it would’ve been possible to try and lift my front wheel to jump/ride over instead of into them, but if it is possible it would definitely require more biking skillZ than I have. So… I think I’m stuck. I don’t think I could have done much differently.
And the absentee mom, who eventually found her way to the kids? Not even a peep of apology out of her for the fact that her kids were a danger running cycling amok, or an inquiry as to the state of affairs on our end. Of course, I didn’t go over to speak with her because the first urge (which lasted quite a while, as confirmed by much higher than normal blood pressure) was to smack her upside the head and ask “What the hell were you thinking, woman?” The event marshalls promised to get me the information from the incident report, though.
And you cyclist friends – don’t worry, this won’t turn me off cycling. I’m definitely very sad to see my bike in a crash with less than 100 kms on it – I’m hopeful the damage is contained to the “peripherals” and not the frame. That would really defeat the purpose of buying an “investment” bike that would last me decades. I’ll get back on my bike when I can bend over again, and when it’s been looked at by a shop. Maybe next year you can up your donations on the condition that I actually finish the race!
So, if you’re a parent – for the love of god, teach your children proper road etiquette and cycling safety. Or if you can’t or aren’t willing to teach and enforce that, don’t let them on a bike, much less let them on a bike in a crowd with hundreds of cyclists around. Much less let them go far enough away from you where you can’t control them. I’m not a believer in spanking as a regular form of punishment, but dear god, if/when I have kids and they ever did something as stupidly dangerous, I would be sorely tempted to lay a hand on them. Behaviour like this is inexcusable, even in kids but especially in parents. I blame this incident on the parent as much as on the kids.
/stepping off the soap-box and going to take a shower, which is going to “hurt like a dickens” according to the emerg doc
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