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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I could quit riding any time I want to…

IMG_7467wolh_panoOnce in a while, climbing Old LaHonda at the start of a Sunday ride, or Kings on any given Tuesday or Thursday morning, and I’m not quite feeling it, yes, I wonder, why am I doing this? Why am I struggling up this hill, why isn’t it fun yet? That feeling can persist for a while, sometimes half the climb, until I first get to that point of no return (half-way there, can’t turn back now!) and it becomes habit. Something you’re used to doing, one foot follows the other, keep at it and you’ll get there. It might not be pretty but you’ll get there. 10 miles down, 47 to go. Sounds awful when you put it that way, and feels not-so-great thinking it.

Not everyone wants to ride up the hill; you can see the guy on the right using a transporter beam.
Not everyone wants to ride up the hill; you can see the guy on the right using a transporter beam.

And then, you get to… the top. You don’t pause to think about it, you just go down the other side, through the upper forest on West Old LaHonda, past that incredible view of the coast, and everything changes, your mindset shifts, you’re on your way. You look forward to the detour past the LaHonda duck pond, wondering if the turtles will be out (they were), and by the time you hit Haskins, that nasty hill between where you are and where you’ll be, you’re thinking about stretching your legs and seeing how fast you can go in a pleasant way.

On to Pescadero, mild headwinds, not bad, decent speed on a pleasant road shared with a very small number of cars and motorcycles plus a few cyclists in the other direction. Stopping for a drink and pastry at the Pescadero Bakery and I’m a completely-different person than the guy struggling up Old LaHonda just over an hour ago.

And that’s when it hits you, that’s when you realize cycling is a drug, a drug that offers the hangover first and the extraordinary high later. So no, I couldn’t quit, not today, not tomorrow, not as long as I’m able to get past the early-ride blues, not as long as my brain remembers and reminds my legs and lungs how awesome it’s going to be in just 30 minutes or so.

It’s also cool to come across other cyclists that know me through my writings, like Marty from Modesto, whom I came across at the base of the second climb on Stage Road. I slowed my pace for a bit and rode with him; he thought he was holding me up and said to keep on going, and I’m thinking… why? Killing myself on each climb is just one way to ride, and if I’ve got a good excuse to ease off a bit and enjoy good company, why wouldn’t I? Later in the ride, descending Kings, I flew past someone I thought I recognized, on a bike we sold. And I’m thinking… why? Why fly past? So I slowed down and waited at the wide clearing and we rode the rest of the way down together, and I got to show her the alternate route through the park.

There’s a lot more to cycling that just data on Strava. It’s the people you meet and the magnificence of getting places under your own power.

I could no more quit riding than you could pry that rifle out of Charlton Heston’s cold dead hands.

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