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.