Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. You adjust your stance and take another swing. Well, I've had several Major League curve balls hurled at me the last couple of weeks and I'm playing in the National League. No designated hitters allowed. You stand in there and hope you don't get beaned in the head by a stray pitch.
First off, two weekends ago a high school buddy living nearby, dies of a heart attack while out for a Saturday morning run. I had lost touch with him since high school and had no idea he lived in the area. In searching out funeral information, I find many of his race results. His times are very similar to mine. Why this guy is out for a run and dies of a heart attack and I don't, I'll never be sure. I drafted and posted a full blog entry on this incident last week, but decided to pulled it down.
Then this last weekend, we head up to Gainesville to attend Band Parent's Day with the our son John, who is a freshman at UF and plays trombone. A nice event and a nice return to visit some old friends and my old college. Luckily John is able to swing an extra football ticket for his younger brother Alex. After the game, we drive south to Clermont, Florida so I can ride the 56 mile bike course that will be part of the Clermont Half Ironman that I plan to do next weekend.
Sunday morning, buddy John, I and four other friends begin riding the course. Only .8 of a mile into the course, I am leading our group of six down a road. On the other side of the road facing us is a 1989 Cadillac being driven by an 89 year old woman who is late for church. She has no turn signal on as we approach. She sees our group and decides that she will turn before we get to her. Unfortunately, by the time she decides to turn, I am already in that part of the road she will be turning through. I have no out. I turn right and shout "Look out!" to no avail. The woman either is not aware she is about to hit me or is too slow to react. Her bumper hit my leg 4 inches above the ankle, my hip slams into her hood followed by my shoulder, and my head hits her windshield. The driver makes no effort to stop or slow. She completes her turn as I fall off the side of her car and find myself sitting in the road. The driver goes about 2 car lengths from me before she makes an effort to stop.
As I sit looking at my swollen leg, I fear it is broken. My head is buzzing from the concussion I received from hitting the windshield. The woman asks my friends if she can leave as she is late for church. One of our riders tells the woman that since she nearly killed a bicyclist, that perhaps the lord will understand if she is late for church. As I sit on the ground in a daze I think, "Well, there goes the Half Ironman in two weeks." Buddy John sticks his head in about this time and says, "Don't think that you're getting out of the Half Ironman in two weeks." A very funny guy.
Once the paramedics are on the scene and offer to move me from the middle of the road, I try out the left leg to find it fortunately unbroken. Other than a concussion, a swollen leg and major road rash, I think I'm in one piece. I end up declining an ambulance ride as my wife is 5 miles away at a hotel and would have no way to get to me since I have our SUV at the ride start. The long and short of it is that my bike was totalled, but I am not. I am extremely lucky. Realizing my friends are all waiting around, I encourage them to continue the ride. Before they start off again, one of them says "Smile" and snaps the below picture of me. I look better than I feel. That's an ice pack on my left shoulder and I'm turned away from the road rash.
Now, I was lucky in that I happen to have bought a new bike helmet a week before. The helmet is now split, but it did its job. It does make me realize that you can be a totally defensive bicyclist and still get taken out by a careless driver. My advise to all you riders and triathletes out there is that you should assume that a driver will do the wrong thing and hope and pray that you are not in their path. All in all, I feel extremely lucky that I went over the car instead of under it and that I wasn't thrown through the air like a rag doll.
Not wanting to let the situation overly spook me, I take my bike to my bike shop and have them confirm the fact that the bike is totalled. I decide to purchase a Cervello triathlon bike given that I've got this Half Ironman next weekend and the Arizona IM in late November. At this juncture, I hope to simply survive and complete the HIM and get fully back on track in time for November. I don't know how I'll feel riding past the scene of the accident next Sunday, but I'll be there.