It happens every so often. Usually I sense it a few seconds and a few yards prior.
I’m currently on track to ride just over 7,500 miles this year. I spend roughly 90-minutes each day on my bike, seven days per week. I’ve missed only 3 days since March.
I’m one of the safest riders I know. I ride to the inside of my lane as much as I can. I wear bright colors and my bike is well lit, even in the daytime. I never take unnecessary chances, never wear earbuds, and continually maintain awareness of what’s behind me, beside me, and ahead of me.
It happens every so often. There are certain places along the way where I have almost come to expect it to happen.
Yesterday, as I was concluding a 26-mile ride, most of which took place in the dark. I was enjoying a sunrise for the ages as I was in the final mile headed home, gliding at approximately 20 mph. I was on Main Avenue headed north, approaching the intersection of Main and Aviation.
It happens every so often. When it does, it is almost always at the intersection of Main and Aviation.
For those making a right turn from Aviation onto Main, there must be a sign that reads…
Accelerate Through The Turn!
And For God’s Sake,
Don’t Look To The Left!
There must be a sign like that, there’s gotta be.
In the 15-years but I’ve been riding in Fallbrook, I’ve had more close calls at that intersection than any place else. Most often, I anticipate and see them ahead of time, and slow down with plenty of room to spare. That doesn’t stop me though, from screaming at the top of my lungs and shouting curse words so loud that people in Oxnard can hear me.
It happens every so often. When it does, it reinforces the confidence I have in my defensive riding skills.
So yesterday, as I was on Main, gliding toward Aviation and saw the gray, older model Nissan Sentra approaching the STOP sign, I pulled in my breaks just a little bit to slow down. As I saw the car slowing down, I released my brakes and continued to glide.
I usually don’t let my guard down like that.
As I regained my speed, the woman driving the Sentra accelerated through the turn without looking left. She actually gunned it.
As I processed this in fractal seconds, I realized I was finally going to get hit by a car full-on for the very first time.
I squeezed up both brake levers as evenly as possible.
It happens every so often. When it does, my voice gets loud quickly and my language gets offensive.
Though I don’t remember doing it, I must have screamed loud enough to get her attention. I remember seeing her finally look to the left and hit her brakes. As her car came to a stop my bike came to a stop also, with my front tire barely pressing into her driver’s side door.
I immediately laid my bike down and prepared to punch my hand through her driver’s side window — as an attention getter, and I’m certain I would’ve done it had she not taken off, but she took off.
I continued screaming and cursing at the top of my lungs as I chased her down the Main. After 30 strides or so, I turned, walked back, righted and mounted my bike, and finished the final mile of an otherwise glorious ride.
This was the closest call I’ve ever had. If I had been 5-feet further along, she would have hit me with the front of her car and I would have flown. There’s no telling what condition my body would have been in.
When I tell people things like this happen, and that it’s part of the risk of daily riding, they often ask or assume that I have a death wish.
I do not have a death wish I have a life wish.
Up until that moment, I had ridden over 20-miles in the dark. I hadn’t seen coyotes, low-flying owls, and seen the campfires of the homeless people living in the San Luis Rey riverbed. I was enjoying an amazing sunrise, and I was gliding all the while. My heart was floating.
Few things breathe life into me more than the sites, the sounds, and the smells of the communities that I ride through each day.
This is what I live for.
That there is an inherent risk of injury or even death that goes along with this feeling of life, I can’t deny. On the half-dozen or so courses I ride each week, there are at least five permanent markers — memorials to bikers who have been hit and killed by cars. I always look at them to honor them as I ride by. So it’s always on my mind — the risks within the joy.
It happens every so often. But the alternative is to crawl into coffin and wait, and I’m just not wired that way, so I continue to ride… Jhciacb
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