Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Recuperation Ruminations

It has been about 10 days since my recent accident, although it seems like a lot longer.  I'm feeling quite a bit better, although I still have a ways to go before I'm really up and running.

The Tommasini Diamante I was riding was totalled.  Well, I suppose it could be repaired, but it would require a new fork, top tube, down tube, head tube, and possibly head lugs.  At that point, it really isn't worth it.  This is a shame, but in recent years I've been striving to get a lot less attached to "things", makes life much easier and tranquil.

Getting into my worst ever (by far!) cycling accident has been cause for some introspection.  I've replayed the event a zillion times and even being as harshly critical as I can be of myself, I've concluded there wasn't much I could have done to avoid the accident other than plain just being somewhere else at the moment.

This is not as comforting as it may sound.  I'd actually feel a bit better if I could say, "Ah, well, next time I'll just <insert more careful practice here>" and then go on confident that this is something that won't happen again.  But I'm really at a loss to come up with anything.

So that left me wondering if I should take this as a wake-up call that cycling is generally more dangerous than I perceived.  But that seems like a bit of an over-reaction for one oddball accident in decades and many thousands of miles of cycling, especially when I've never even had a previous close call of this nature in all that time and miles.  The Park Police told me that this was the first accident like this in over two years that they've dealt with.  This path alone, only one of the many under Park Police jurisdiction, gets a million visitors a year.

Ultimately, I'm just left with this was a pretty cosmically unlikely accident in that venue and, ya know, sometimes stuff happens.

So as unsatisfying as that is, I'm just leaving it at that and moving on.  There is still no word on the other rider, who was still in the ICU 4 or 5 days after the accident.  This distresses me and I'm hoping for a full and rapid recovery for him so that he may move on as well.

This accident did stir up a bit of a buzz in the local cycling community.  A reporter contacted me and wrote a fair and balanced story.  A radio commentator, who has a history of being peeved at aggressive scofflaw cyclists, included it in a piece (scroll down to "Bicyle Road Rage 2010") that reiterated this annoyance.  The local cycling community took umbrage at this and went in hot pursuit after the commentator.

I inserted myself in the commentary on this in a few places to humbly point out that, whatever the facts may be about aggressive scofflaw cyclists, my accident didn't fall into that pattern, both by my recollection and Park Police report.  This was duly noted by the cyclist community, but did little to quench the bigger issue of cycling PR.  The radio host actually did a followup piece intended to bury the hatchet, at least until next time.  He did also give me a private apology for including my accident as an exhibit in the larger issue.   

So this is another thing around which to tie a ribbon and move on.
Speaking of moving on, I'm heading out to Japan later this week to rejoin my family for about 2 months.  I'll be checking out the local cycling scene.  Due to this accident, I missed my opportunity to ship a bike over there, but maybe I'll just buy something locally.  I'll certainly be buying my son a bicycle, one goal for this summer is to get him off training wheels.

Also, since Suntour was headquartered in the Kansai (Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe) region, I'm entertaining fantasies of finding some dusty old bike shop with piles of NOS Suntour Superbe parts.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone who has shown concern and offered help and encouragement.  The most important lesson I take away from this accident is that this type of support helps immensely and has real therapeutic value.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Down But Not Out

The picture above is the aftermath of a bicycle accident in which I was a participant Friday morning on the the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda, Maryland.  I'm the guy face down on the right, that's my new (to me) Tommasini on the far right.

Being on a well traveled bike path that is popular with commuters, the accident got a bit of local coverage.  The circumstances of the accident, according to the Park Police:

"Sgt. Lauryn McNeill said it happened Friday around 8:30 a.m. She said a cyclist headed for the National Institutes of Health moved around two pedestrians and into the path of an oncoming cyclist. "

That oncoming cyclist would be me

In addition to scrapes and scratches, I escaped with a broken left collarbone, "8 or 9" (I guess they quit counting after a while) broken ribs and a little chip on a vertebra and was released from the hospital Saturday. The other chap apparently ended up in the intensive care unit in a coma with rather more serious injuries.  It was indicated to me that these are not life threatening and he should be released within several days.

It is an ill wind that blows no good.