So I Had An Accident ... So What?by Dick Krakowski
I’ve heard that it’s not a question of “if,” but a question of “when.” Well, my “when” showed up on February 27th a little past the halfway point of a century ride. Now, I have fallen from my bike a number of times in the few years that I have been riding. The falls on ice and snow are self-explanatory. A one-mile ride this winter on slushy ice netted me four tumbles. Then the obligatory “failure to unclip” happened a couple of times this past year, once in the presence of the club president (a good way for new members to get noticed). I’m sure my next F-to-U will happen alongside a school bus full of teens.
This most recent and surely my most serious accident was preventable. I’ll admit that up front. Could it happen again? You bet it could. Mathematics was to blame! Let me recap the elements of this mishap.
It was a nice day, chilly, but not cold. We were halfway through a century and had just visited the Maple Syrup Festival somewhere near Salem, Ind. The lines to eat were long, so my companions Melissa Hall, Jim Moore, Steve Royse and I decided to retrace our route and head to Scottsburg to eat. On the way out, we had climbed what is known as Salem Hill or Leota Hill depending on the direction you are going, I guess. We had climbed this hill on the way out, now it was time for what I call the reward for climbing a hill — the descent. Oh, how I love the descents, especially long straight ones with rumble strips that you can ride on and say AAAAAHHH all the way down, tears streaming over your ears and exiting the vents of your helmet, becoming part of the rain cycle.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the descent. As we all know, a great degree of caution must be exercised while taking advantage of gravity. What to some might look like careening wildly at breakneck speed downhill is actually for most seasoned riders nothing more than a controlled reduction of altitude. In order to accomplish this in a safe manner, it is necessary to have your mind ahead of the bike in proportion to the speed that you are going. In my case, a patch of cinders and a curve were thirty feet ahead with some more cinders a few feet past the first patch. My mind was twenty-five feet ahead of the bike; see how easy this is to figure out? Not being a mathematical heavyweight though, it took me some time to cipher thirty minus twenty-five ... it took twenty-five feet to be exact. At that instant, as I reacted too late to the discovery of cinders in a curve, I became intimate with the guardrail. Only for an instant though, because I then started a one-mile tumble down a hill, taking out a couple of small trees along the way. The climb back to the top was about twenty feet and I don’t know what happened to the other 5,260 feet. I said I was bad at math but get to the top I did. It was there that an assessment of my injuries took place.
Help was quick to arrive and thanks to a Good Samaritan, Melissa, Jim, Steve, our bikes and I were taken to the E.R. at Scottsburg where not much could be done for me because no one spoke Polish, I think, and then back to Louisville. Thus began the journey of recovery. I’m happy to say that no major damage was done although I did suffer a deep tissue laceration to my thigh and some torn muscle in my shoulder blade. Two surgeries and rehab have me back on my bike as of this writing with the expectation of nothing permanent to endure. I will have a nifty scar for show-and-tell, though. Are Speedo’s acceptable for the Boxer Short Ride?
And now, so what? Well, my love of riding won’t stop. Sharing that love with other like-minded people will continue as well. Also to continue will be the exhilaration I get from a fast downhill ride. But, what I really want to convey here is that there is still cycling after a big one. The importance of paying acute attention to our surroundings while riding is paramount, and I hope to drive that point across to others. So I hope that my accident will serve as a reminder to others to keep your mind sufficiently ahead of your bicycle. Be mindful of your surroundings and those around you. As for me, I have some time to read my new book ... Mathematics for Dummies!
I want to thank the Louisville Bicycle Club and its members for the outpouring of support and well wishes ... just who did send me that book?
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web posted: 9 May 2005
last updated: 13 May 2005