First off, my apology Brompton for my clumsy and unauthorized alteration of your logo. I mean not to use it for financial gain but as a lament, a comp-lament if you will, an ode even.
Rolling out in the morning rain…
A couple of days ago energized by a brisk walk with the pup, a quick water-rower Tabata session, and a Classical Stretch video, I headed out geared up against a cold, steady, wind-blown, drenching rain. I felt powerful. The expected spirt-lifting magic did not disappoint. What a gift–especially on this dreary day. My route, carefully refined, reflected what I believed was my safest path. I peddle out with confidence paying special attention to those inevitable few areas that require particular care.
The arrogance of preparation…
I take a certain pride in being a safe rider. Partly out of self-preservation and partly with thought of setting a bit of an example to the young riders in our family whom we likely bore with our safety lectures. My bike is outfitted with high quality dynamo-driven front/rear lights. The new highly visible Lumos helmet complete with turn signals, while really fabulous, admittedly gives me an unwarranted sense of a light field of protection. Still, the mantra of “…behave like a car or behave like a pedestrian” runs through my mind’s eye like one of those news banners at the bottom of a TV screen. I carefully watch the traffic at those complicated transitions pausing at the green bike lights and pedestrian signals watching for turning cars and working to make eye contact with drivers. On this day I messed up–took a short cut.
The slow-mo roll…
Arriving at the last bad spot just blocks from work I check out the situation. I need to make a right turn from the side-walk and get in the bike lane or take the pedestrian crosswalk. There is a longish line of cyclists and the first car in line has no flashing turn signal. I have the crosswalk light and quickly decide to roll across the intersection without dismounting in order to merge into the bike lane and still make the light. Less than 2 feet from the curb all my senses slow to a creep. Nearly millimeter by millimeter I watch the turning car moving toward me. I am spell bound with the proverbial slow motion brain fog, yet still able to work the rain drenched brakes enough to miss being hit head on, instead, Brompton strikes the front passenger car door with a solid thump. For a nano second we come to a complete stop still upright front tire stuck to car: My eyes are riveted on the spot of contact seeing almost in a pixelated form and feeling each individual rain drop on my face. As gravity overtakes us and the car speeds away I feel surprisingly relaxed and watch in third person as over we roll.
Are you okay?
Flat on my back looking up into the morning rain I do the quick body scan of one whose life has passed before their very eyes–I know my name and feel lucid, neck, back, arms, legs feel surprisingly fine. Sitting up I respond with a “Yeah! I think I am!” to the cyclist in the bike lane who slows to shout “Are you okay?” “Sure?” No one else has stopped. Only my pride is damaged and having enough of that to do a transplant if needed –I scramble up as he continues on his way. Immediately concerned about my Brompton I pick it up and move us across the intersection from our sprawled position half-on, half-off the sidewalk and in the turn path of traffic. Troubled by a dash of karmic guilt– the online fantasy build of a beautiful racing green super-light Brompton of a few days earlier–crosses my mind. I do the same body scan on behalf of Miss Brompton. At first she seems fine with just a bit of tire rubbing fender. I climb on board and try to ride only to discover she does the bike version of a crab-walk and her handle bars and fork are sharply canted to the left. Her small size, pink and purple combo and the baby-elephant like proportions of the rider only add to the clown effect.
The road crew…
I push her the slightly up-hill five blocks to work and am shaking by the time I climb the front steps. Working at an alternative medicine clinic–they immediately get me settled with a cup of tea and make sure all my parts are working. With drama queen clarity I tell my tale. They listen empathetically. A couple of hours pass and the dissipating adrenaline leaves me stiff and achy. Knowing my bike no longer folds for a bus commute home I call in the road crew. Having a granny flat and a daughter who works from home has it’s advantages. That sweet women drops everything to pick me up. You can see a cute pic of us in bike helmets on her instagram @jen_in_pdx.
On the way home we enlist the aide of the other road crew members: The guys at Relvolver Bikes. They are not a Brompton dealer but these guys are always good to me and I trust them as much or more than the purveyor across town. They will fix her if they can and let me know if I need to call in the specialists.
On the Road again with lessons learned.
A gift of living longer is that I now have a bit more self-insight and am more willing to own my part in any situation. It would be easy to blame the person in the car who obviously moved through a place where a pedestrian had the right-of-way. The catch is: There was no pedestrian in the zone that day, just a biker in a rush to make the light. One who did not follow their own self-made rule and common sense –(ouch). It is possible that driver never even knew we collided (I prefer to think that actually). And, maybe there were unseen others waiting to help me out had I needed it–but were sparing me further embarrassment. I know for sure I’ll be a better biker AND better driver as a result. Coolness factor aside I will add a bright neon vest over top my stylish rain jacket. Also will walk my talk and walk the cross-walks!
Yesterday, true to their promise the Revolver crew phoned to say the patient is ready! I walk a quick mile to the bike shop –amazingly hand them only $20 and find her ready to roll. This really is an ode to the toughness of the well made Brompton. Although only separated a couple of days, after years of nearly daily riding, I felt a part of me was missing. Together again we are ready to hit the road–she’s pushing nine and I am at least 137 in bike years. But we are both still Brompton strong!
Would love to connect with you…
Have you had a time when your life passed before your eyes? Other than not riding–what are your bike safety tips? What do you do to keep fit? Use the comments to tell me about it.