40 to 0 in one second

Yesterday, 120 km into a 180 km ride, I was just minding my own business and fiddling with my Garmin when my favorite form of transportation – a camper van – decided to back up into the road in front of me. Like I said, I had my attention on my Garmin and not the road (damn you, fickle touch screen) and I didn’t see the back left corner of that monstrosity till it was too late. I’ve been riding long enough now that I know what it means to wipe out, but it’s always slightly different and never really looses its ‘drama’, if you know what I mean. While I was recovering on the 60 km I still had to go after the accident, I identified a few ‘stages’ that I, at least, have gone through each time I’ve hit the pavement hard.

Stage One: Shit, this is not going to end well

This is a very brief stage; just long enough for you to see what you are about to hit, or what is about to hit you, depending on the case. The moment I looked up from my 41 kph screen manipulation I was confronted by a large white wall of German RV. I only had time to identify that this was, indeed, Stage One, and hit it with my right shoulder.

Stage Two: Which way is up?

This next stage is a little longer – taking you from flipping through the air, hitting the ground, and coming to a halt. I’ve got no idea if I did a somersault, a pirouette, or a nose dive, but I do know that it was scary and it hurt when I landed.

Stage Three: Scream like a child

This one could be mostly me, but I’ve seen it happen to other grown men on TV, so I don’t think I’m all alone. This is when you are now stopped, your bike is somewhere nearby, and you start moaning in agony (because really, it hurts). You roll a bit from side to side and wonder how many bones you’ve broken.

Stage Four: Inspection

If you haven’t broken much, you can now get up and out of the way of passing cars. You are inevitably holding something that hurts, along with your bike, and you make your way to the side of the road. The next thing that happens depends on how much your bike costs and whether you can afford to replace it – inspect the body, or inspect the bike. I was standing and more or less talking (enough to find out my campervanners didn’t speak English or French), so I looked at the bike first.

Stage Five: Back on the Bike

There are other possible stages here, which will depend on the severity of injuries, who was at fault, and whether you have a wife who can pick you up, but I just wanted to get this behind me (knowing it was mostly, if not totally, my fault) and suffer all the way home.

There are more stages to follow, like how you really feel once the blood stops flowing so fast, and the inevitable ‘pulling out the credit card’ stage when you realize that the bike you thought wasn’t damaged, was. But the final stage, if you are one of the lucky ones, is knowing that you are still alive. If you’ve ridden a bike long enough, you must know how fortunate you really are.

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25 thoughts on “40 to 0 in one second

  1. Happy to hear you’re ok. On the plus side it got you to blog again. 🤔 I’m always amazed how cyclist can pick themselves off the pavement and carry on. The lucky ones of course. Stay safe out there Gerry.

    • Luc, you know I’ll do just about anything for blog material. I’m always amazed about pros, too, till I realized they are half my age.

  2. Gerry! No more crashes, you have had your share. Very glad to hear you are ok, no major damage. Does your comment in stage 5 mean Shoko is home? Unrelated, now that I’m in the south but way west, I’ve been thinking of emailing you. Is it as hot on the road there as here?

  3. I crashed at 65 kph last year. When I awoke in the hospital, my first thoughts were ” How is my bike?” and How is my favourite kit? Is the jersey torn to bits? And the bibs?”. Hope you and the bike are ok.

  4. Sorry to read it, chief. I’m just glad you’re able to write about it yourself. Hope you and the bike make a full (and not-too-expensive) recovery soon. Just out of curiosity, how did the German RV drivers respond to the accident?
    It turns out, there are alternative versions of Stages 2&3. It’s like a bad video jump-cut; one moment you’re on your bike, rolling free, the danger behind you – marveling at how you could have possibly gotten away with it. The next, you’re face down on the road, perfectly still, with no transition between the two. The ‘memory’ of somehow avoiding the accident is still fresh in your mind, and nothing hurts at all. Whoever is editing this movie is clearly not paying attention, as they totally missed the bit where you flew through the air, tumbled and slid to a stop. Confusion is quickly pushed aside by “THE BIKE!!” – and you try to limp/hop over to your ride, and proceed with Stage 4. After a few minutes, you start to realize that ‘nothing hurts at all’ is a complete lie…

  5. The Germans didn’t want to accept responsibility for anything, even though I wasn’t asking it. They did give me a big bottle of water, though.

    Sounds like you’re talking from experience there. I suppose that there could be lots of variations on the ‘stages’, with perhaps the one constant being ‘something always hurts’.

  6. What rotten luck. Fortunately I rarely hit 41 kph because wiping out at that speed might easily be the last thing that I ever do. I am glad that you are still young enough to bounce a bit.

    • Stupidity is more like it, but thank you for being kind. It is camper van season down here now, so I will be more vigilant in the future.

  7. Hi Gerry, glad you were still intact enough to blog about unfortunate run-in with campervan. How goes Stage 6+? I see on strava you were riding today so presumably body’s not doing too badly, hopefully same is true for Bianchi/credit card.

    • I was ‘achy’ today, but all parts are in working order, I’m glad to announce. New helmet bought already, so the cc is getting a workout…How was your swim in the Seine the other day?

  8. Ouch…
    And I know all the stages you mentioned just too well! The bike’s always my first thought 🙂

    Wish you a good/quick recovery!

  9. Stage 2… perfectly described my recent encounter with an suv mate.
    It is harrowing for the first few minutes indeed. Although I will say, no screaming.
    I’ve hit the deck several times on the mtb…once before on the road bike but less severe than this time. AND many times on my moto bike. It’s never pleasant, and the thought of being LUCKY when there is no serous injures, permeates through the old melon for sure… even right now! Glad you were not seriously injured, stay safe…pedal on.

    • I almost read that as ‘mostly glad you’re ok’! How’s Le Nord treating you this summer, by the way? Any big events coming up? Italy this fall maybe?

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