The Return of Chris

IMG_7532topofkingsA bit strange getting up in the morning for a ride without Kevin, but it’s going to be a few days before he’s back up to speed. From my own experience, two days after a crash is when you feel the worst, so things will only get better from today-forward.

Smaller group today, with Karen, Karl, Eric and… Chris. Chris used to be a semi-regular who disappeared for a few years, ok, almost a decade, had a couple of kids, started racing, stopped racing because he thought it was dangerous, and now he might be back with us once in a while. There were two different versions of Chris on the ride this morning; the “social” Chris, hanging back on the climb and talking with Karl & Karen, and the super-fast-guy we remember and fear from days past, who sets a pace on Tripp Road that is almost impossible to stay with, even though he’s doing far more work. I can’t imagine the wattage he puts out when he’s in that mode. Maybe trying to hold onto that wheel is the reason my left knee is a bit sore, first time… ever?

Or it could have been from a bit earlier, trying to hang onto Karl’s wheel on the upper section of West Old LaHonda, and powering hard up that last steep section to Skyline. But it wasn’t from the final sprint near the end of the ride; Karl took off and I was way too spent to stay on his wheel. No contest there.

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Kevin hit by car while descending 84


Some days are fun to write about. But days when your morning bike ride results in spending three hours in the ER, well, this is one of those not-so-fun days. It started out nicely, climbing up through the fog on Kings, good run across Skyline, nice views from West Old LaHonda. Descending 84 was something else entirely. Most of the group had gotten ahead of us on the descent, while Kevin and I were hanging back just a bit, with some concern about possibly-damp pavement. It’s not like we were riding slowly though; our speed was right at 30, coming out of a tight corner, when the incident happened. Below is the “storyboard” taken from the video.

1:02 into the sequence and the car comes past me with a couple inches to spare. I was doing 30, he must have been doing 10mph greater.
1:02 into the sequence and the car comes past me with a couple inches to spare. I was doing 30, he must have been doing 10mph greater. Kevin is maybe 30 feet in front of me.
at 1:04, just two seconds later, a car passes in the opposite direction, way to the side of the road. This car, the car that passed me, and Kevin, all tried to share the same piece of road at the same time. The driver that clipped Kevin chose him as the path of least resistance.
at 1:04, just two seconds later, a car passes in the opposite direction, way to the side of the road. This car, the car that hit Kevin, and Kevin, all tried to share the same piece of road at the same time. The driver that hit Kevin chose him as the path of least resistance.
At 1:09 I've slowed down and come to a stop just past Kevin, a couple seconds after the car knocked him down.
At 1:09 I’ve slowed down and come to a stop just past Kevin, a couple seconds after the car him him.
The mirror that broke on impact with Kevin. No soft tap here.
The mirror that broke on impact with Kevin. No soft tap here.

Watching the entire sequence, the car that hit Kevin came up on us pretty fast. We were traveling an average of just over 30, the car first appears at 19 seconds, at 33 seconds you see him drifting well over the fog line, and at 40 seconds he’s on my tail. In 20 seconds he covered the same ground we did in 28 seconds. The actual location of the crash can be seen here.

The good news? The driver did stop, and in fact gave Kevin a ride back home, after which we took him to the ER where he spent a whole lot of time sitting around and hurting really badly, and a little bit of time getting x-rays, having his wounds cleaned out, and wishing he could walk to the bathroom instead of having to pee into a container. I got the driver’s name, his phone number, and a picture of his car with the license plate and the broken mirror. What I did not do was take a photo of his driver’s license (stupid!) or get his insurance information.

I’ve also got a photo showing the license number of a car that likely saw the accident and pulled up behind us, offering to call 911.

What Kevin got out of it is a heavily-bruised and battered body, an uncertain amount of time off a bike, and a bike that went from 30 to 0 in a manner it’s not designed for, and not considered safe to ride.

Tomorrow morning I call the CHP and follow up on things, making sure we get the contact info for the insurance company and that a proper report has been filed, since this incident was caused entirely, without any possible way to consider otherwise, the driver’s recklessness. I’m convinced he wasn’t the type that targets cyclists, or if he was, he quickly understood the seriousness of what happened and had a come-to-Jesus moment. But this is not a forgive & forget sort of thing. Kevin could have been killed; falling off a bike at 30mph, even with a helmet (which is cracked, by the way, yet Kevin had no head injury, thank you Bontrager!) is not something to be taken lightly. Plus missing work and losing shape as he prepares to ride his bike in France next month.

But thankfully Kevin will recover… and I’ll start thinking about running a video camera at the front of my bike again, not just the rear. –Mike–

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