I’ve only been knocked of my bike once. When I was about 20, riding home from cricket training I sped through an orange light. This was on a motorway over-bridge. About 10m after the lights is the motorway off ramp, a driver to my left (we drive on the left in NZ) coming up off the motorway saw a green light, didn’t slow down & didn’t see me. I didn’t see him until it was too late. I went into his back wheel and somersaulted into the air spinning around once, maybe twice in that kind of slow motion induced by a massive adrenaline surge. I landed on my back cushioned by my bag full of pads, bat and gloves.
To his credit, the driver was concerned (about me, not his car) but the old fart behind him who “saw everything” wanted my details and to get the police involved as apparently it was all my fault. In fact he saw everything except my bike as he ran over my already buckled front wheel. To cut a long story short, I learnt fairly early on in my adult life that riding defensively is about maintaining my own safety by treating cars as though they cannot see me. So I don’t speed around blind bends or go as fast as I can down hills-it may be my age but I don’t see the point of getting somewhere 2-5 minutes earlier all so that I can go fast.
So I left work early yesterday as I had an awards evening up in Cambridge to attend. It was early enough not to need a light and also had time to churn out some extra km by taking some B roads to try & avoid the bastard cool 15mph NW crosswind.
About 2 thirds though my journey, I swung around a bend and saw a tractor pulling a trailer about 30 – 40 metres in the distance. I looked behind me for a split second to check that there wasn’t traffic coming up behind me. And when I looked back ahead, a woman who had clearly not seen me trying to pass the tractor was bearing down on me 10 metres away. It was too late for her to do anything but slow down there was no room left on the road for me to pass to I did an emergency pull up unto the grass verge.
I felt the breeze of her wing mirror pass me as I shouted out some pretty choice expletives at her. All that within 1 maybe 2 seconds, all in that adrenaline fuelled slow motion maneuver.
The irony about this is that I was one of a team who were finalists in the patient safety category of the regional innovation awards. We teach learning from near misses & human error and factors that precipitate these in healhcare.
Who knows what this woman was thinking, what was on her mind to miss me plodding along in full daylight wearing contrasting clothing? She couldn’t even blame the glare from the sun, low in its sky as I was the one going west. We didn’t win the prize but consider that my luck was in. I looked up in time to avoid danger and to make the most of that Kiwi Sauv Blanc later that evening. Yes, a close shave indeed…