A Bike Ride and a Broken Nose

Today, instead of biking home along the seacoast, I found myself in the Emergency Room trying to stem the flow of blood from my broken nose. My pride and vanity were actually hurt more than my nose, due to fact that I was sitting in a room full of strangers for hours in my grape-smuggling bicycle shorts.

It started out as a beautiful fall morning with the sun just coming up over the horizon on a warm 75 degree day. It was day off from running after logging over 30 miles already that week. I inflated the tires on my Felt road bike, grabbed my water bottle, my helmet, an energy bar, and my phone. Note the phone… it is perhaps the most important piece of equipment to carry with you on a ride.

I was in the zone by mile 14. Cruising at a steady 18-20 mph and feeling strong. I crested the top of a small hill and everything changed. The first thing I saw was a vehicle stopped in the left (opposite) lane. The driver was waving a walker across the road. Nobody behind him, nobody ahead of him. Why he stopped and felt the need to direct traffic is beyond me.

The walker stepped out into my lane. I am 60 feet away. She looks at me and steps quickly across the road into the safety of the other lane. I am 40 feet away. Then, walker number two appears. She looks at me and steps into my lane. I yell. I’m 25 feet away and braking hard. Walker number two waves her hands at me and steps back off the road.  Whew! I ease up on the brakes.

Then, inexplicably, walker number two decides to cross the road after all! I can’t avoid her as she steps off the 6″ concrete curb and directly in front of me. We collide as I try to avoid her and bail to the left against my instincts and further into the road. The pavement rises up as my nose hits the cross-bar and sparks fill my vision. I leave skin on the asphalt. My handle bar wrap is torn, the brake lever is twisted and my chain derails.

I checked on the woman. She had what I guessed to be a sprained ankle. Biting my lip, I told her the fault was mine as much as hers. It was simply an accident. She handed me a tissue from her purse and asked if my nose was alright.

Blood poured out of my nose and down the front of my neon yellow bike jersey. I pulled my broken bike to the side of the road. The pain hadn’t set in yet. Blood tickled my nose where it fell in drips to the pavement. I checked to make sure my teeth were still in place and reached for my phone.

Twenty minutes later my wife and kids picked me up. During that time, several cyclists stopped and offered help. A few drivers even offered to give me a ride. Apparently, the walkers were well enough to walk back to wherever they’d come from. I found myself standing alone after just a few minutes. 

That car that stopped and waved the walkers across the road took off immediately after seeing the accident. No offer to help, no apology, no class. Please, if you’re a driver, just follow the rules of the road instead of creating your own. It only confuses people.