Saturday, June 23, 2012

Struck by a Car


The day started with promise. Attending Bike Virginia, I biked 20 miles from Charles Town to the event's registration in Berryville, Va. 

Once on the road I reset my odometer so not to remind myself that I had ridden 20 miles farther than anyone else. And it worked.

I was surprised that at a park and swimming pool at Mile 80 near Winchester I ran into my friend Vince Amodeo. I had been chasing my cousin, Kay Walborn, for these 80 miles and had given up finding her.

Vince Amodeo

I said goodbye to Vince and sat down to text Kay. We had been texting at each rest stop and I had no idea I was close. My legs felt like it was 80 miles, not 100, and then I heard her call my name. I had caught her. What a nice surprise. We rolled out together and rode together for six miles before I broke from the route and headed back to Charles Town.

In Charles Town, as I came up Washington Street, a car started to overtake me at an intersection. This is a common occurrence and I didn't think much of it. As I went straight the driver got just far enough in front of me then she whipped the car to the right and made a right turn. Into me. The classic right hook. 

I tried to evade her by turning sharper but I couldn't. She hit me and sent me flying.

I remember nothing after being contacted by her car until I was on the ground. My shoulders and back seemed to take the worst of it and I lay on the street in pain with my bike on top of me, still clipped into the left pedal.

I had ridden 115 miles, my farthest ever, and combined with the heat, 86 degrees, and the effort to get up the rise before the intersection, I was breathing heavy. Laying on my back I was afraid to open my eyes. I was scared.

I was breathing very heavy and heard the woman who hit me scream at me. "DIDN'T YOU SEE MY SIGNAL!!!" "DIDN'T YOU SEE MY SIGNAL!!!"

I paid her no attention and within another minute a passerby stopped her car and came to my assistance. If I had any idea of getting to my feet she made sure that I was to remain immobile. In fact, she held me around my shoulders so I wouldn't move. And I was too weak to fight.

Another passerby tried to unclip my shoes. And in the moment, I could not remember how to release them. I was afraid they were going to cut them off. Not my Louis Garneaus!

An ambulance arrived pretty quickly followed by the police and then a firetruck. As the paramedics attended to me the woman who had been attending, also a paramedic, introduced herself to them. I was holding the back of my leg, not because I was injured but because the position I was in, combined with riding 115 miles in the heat, was causing me to cramp.

She told the paramedic crew that I was cramping because I had ridden 15 miles. "115 miles," I corrected her, and I threw water on her.

They extricated me from my bike and moved it next to a building. They helped me to my feet then checked vitals, checking to see if I was dizzy. I could move everything but was sore from the crash. I had some road rash but it wasn't bad. I refused a trip to the emergency room in the ambulance.

My handlebar tape was torn and the shifters were out of place. I was able to forcibly realign one mostly. Against the wishes of, well, everyone there, I decided I would keep on riding.

As I got close to Bethany's I noticed the front wheel was wobbling. More damage which I hadn't seen.

I was shaken up and really just wanted to go home. End my five day Bike Virginia trip after one day.

I set a new personal best for miles ridden in one day: 119.2, and would have gone farther except for the crash. But my bike and I were sore and beat up.

Bethany reminded me that there was a bike store in Charles Town and I took my bike there. It was Three Points Cycle and the manager/owner on duty couldn't be nicer. He looked at me, still walking in a daze, listened to my story and told me he grew up in Woodbridge. He attended Gar-Field H.S. He took my front wheel and trued it. No charge. I started feeling better.

But I was still shaken.

It sucks to get hit by a car.

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