Breaking News: Nothing’s broken

15 Dec

Yesterday I got hit by a car. Again. For the 6th time. I thought it was the 5th time, but then coach reminded me of the very first one — the one before the crazy dog lady killed Rachel (the bike) and broke my hand. And since #1 and the latest one both happened in Marina del Rey, they serve as neat bookends for a quick summary of the CZ vs. Cars Adventures.

CZ: 6 / Cars: 0

Clearly I am made of different stuff than most humans. And I hope I’m made of different stuff than most cats as well, cuz if I’m a cat, then I’ve only got 3 more lives and I appear to be using them up at an alarming rate. Here are the 6 ways cars have tried to kill me:

#1: Passenger-Side Door-ing (~April 2010)

For the non-cyclists among you, getting “doored” is what happens when you crash into a car door that is suddenly flung open into a bike lane, or into your general line of transit. Every parked vehicle that you pass is a potential IED that could pop off at any moment, with the potential to send you fatally tumbling into oncoming traffic. Here’s a non-gruesome example at 0:42.

If you watch the video, then you can easily imagine how a cyclist (me) might encounter the far-less-expected, incredibly rare, passenger-side dooring. Mine happened in Marina Del Rey. A minivan rounded a deep right-hand curve about 60 feet in front of me, the same curve I would follow, and was moving slowly in the new direction — far from the curb, leaving me plenty of room to continue riding after I rounded the curve when all of a sudden, WHAMMO! The passenger side door flew open and a kid prepared to hop out.

Luckily for both of us, however, his backpack (or something) got stuck and he did not drop down onto the street and into my inevitable crash path. As my wheel jammed into the car door right in front of him, the kid began to cry dramatically, in Spanish. Because I was going <10mph coming around the curve, I suffered only minor bruising to my sternum when it slammed into my suddenly stopped stem.

Porque no hablo Espanol muy bueno and the kid was still sobbing, I just kept saying “no te preocupes, hijo, no te preocupes. No hay problema.” Of course, I was completely freaked out myself. And although I pedaled home very slowly, my heart was still jackhammering in my chest.

#2: Right Hook with Vomiting Dog  (~Oct. 2010)

I was enjoying the last bit of a ~50mi ride, cruising along a downhill stretch of PCH just south of Latigo when all of a sudden a car wheeled dramatically across my path in an attempt to navigate a ~120º right-turn onto a screwy bit of road with two names (Seagull and Latigo Way). I grabbed a fistful of brakes and attempted to redirect myself to parallel the car’s turn rather than heading straight into T-bone situation, but the collision was inevitable. And painful.

It was immediately clear that my front wheel was taco-ed and my fork cracked. The bike was not ride-able. What was NOT immediately clear was that my hand, which definitely hurt like a b*tch (as did my knee, hip, and other body bits) also was broken (fractured lunate — a very tricky bone to break, and to heal, naturally…). I allowed adrenaline to override common sense and did not call an ambulance. Instead, I let the tortfeasor drive me back to my car (about 3 miles down the road), which is when I found out that she was transporting a dog WHO HAD VOMITED IN THE BACKSEAT of the car (hello distracted driving!) and it’s also when I found out that she had previously hit 2 other cyclists on PCH in the last few years in her POS 13-year-old Honda Civic that not only had dog vomit in it, it also looked like she might live in it.

She refused to show me her driver’s license, said she “forgot” her insurance car, and would only tell me her first name. [*Why didn’t I call the cops? Because I defaulted to a highly empathic state where I assumed that she was likely to be one-step-away from being one of my pro bono clients–yes, I know, I’m an idiot...] Luckily, she gave me her cell phone number, which I successfully called before departing to make my way painfully back into Santa Monica (first stop: bike shop; second stop: ER).

A VERY long story and lawsuit ensued. I got a new bike and a lovely little person (like, literally a “little” person, aka midget, but not a dwarf — I learned the difference during this time) served as my occupational therapist and got my hand back to functional again.

[2b. Highly Catastrophic TRULY Life-Threatening Solo Skull Smashing Wreck that did NOT (*I don’t think*) Directly Involve a Car (June 11, 2011)

Thank you(?) loyal, adroit reader who pointed out that I actually only have TWO (2) cat lives left, not 3. I lost another cat life (and truly nearly my own life) when I suffered the epic wipe out on Decker, which sent me to the hospital for 11 days and ultimately altered the entire course of the rest of my miraculous life as well. I won’t recap that situation for you here, because this post is about CZ vs. Cars and there was no car directly involved with that situation (as far as I know).

If you are a new reader, however, you might want to catch up on what arguably is THE most important story to ever be not-told on this blog … the story lives HERE, in Google drive.

It does not live on the blog, but it’s part of what inspired the blog to come into being in the first place. You’re welcome(?)]

#3: Sideswiped in Brentwood (~April 2012)

San Viecente Blvd. should be a cyclists’ dream. Beautifully paved. No potholes. Two wide lanes in each direction + continuous well-painted bike lanes + ample and rarely used parking along the curb. Not very many cross-streets. Plenty of (virtual) cushioning all around. So when you’re cruising along at a good clip, with no parked cars waiting to IED/door you and no turns into which some ass-hat might try to careen, you feel pretty safe. Pretty happy. Pretty carefree and then WHAMMO! A lovely lady in her brand new GINORMOUS Mercedes S600 decides to just float her boat on over into your lane, and into you, and although you’re going at a pretty good clip, you’re not going as fast as her and eventually the laws of friction and momentum will win and you will lose.

Luckily(?), the lady actually *did* see me (the only striker who didn’t use the “I didn’t see you” admission). Her excuse/admission? Oh, wow, I just don’t really know how to drive this thing yet. It’s so big and you’re so tiny. I didn’t think I would hit you. My house is just two driveways down [she points to a HUGE manse] and I was getting ready to aim for home. Would you like me to get an ice pack? Or some lemonade? I’m really sorry. You look kinda shaken. Do you mind if I just sit here with you for awhile so make sure you’re ok?

Huh. This lady, while clearly clueless, was actually kinda nice. We chatted. She insisted that I take $100 and that I call her in the morning if anything really hurt or my bike was broken or whatever. I never called her. I used the $100 to buy a new extra-bright rear red blinky light.

#4 Hit by a bus … literally. (Sept. 2012)

I sort of wrote about this one previously (click here), but now that I’ve re-read it I see that I never really explained to you what happened. I did, however, explain it to the always awesome, ever-intrepid Ted Rogers, THE best blogger about all things bike in L.A. (over at the aptly named BikinginLA.com). Here’s what went down when Dexter got killed and I got my clavicle shattered:

The details of my accident are as follows: I was riding north on PCH on Saturday 9/15. Around 9am, as I approached the Porto Marina turnout, a large passenger van/shuttle bus hit me as it passed. I was thrown over the handlebars and landed primarily on my left shoulder (although my hip and knee also took some of the impact). The van’s rear wheel missed running over my head by no more than 6 inches. I remained alert and vigilant throughout the impact and aftermath. I attempted to make note of the van’s license plate or other identifying marks, but it did not stop or slow at all so I was not able to get any details.
I’ve searched dozens of Google images to try to find a photo that matches what I saw. I haven’t found a perfect fit yet. The attached image comes is closest I’ve found so far — however, “my” van looked a little “older” and I believe it was only 5 windows long (not 6) and that the frames around the windows were white, not black.  Also, the back portion of “my” van had an advertising billboard type of thing below the window, on its lower half. I have no idea what it was an ad for, but the main colors I remember from it were blue and green.
A girl in the Marina Porto parking area saw me hit the ground and she came over to check on me and call 911 and she stayed until the police and EMS arrived. I did not get her name or number, but the officers on the scene seemed to talk with her at length while the EMS guys were checking me out. I assume the on-scene officers got her info.
I was transported to UCLA via ambulance. About 45 mins after I got to UCLA, another officer (Yoon) came to interview me and he issued a little tiny form (sort of like a receipt) to let me know that a felony hit and run report was filed. I have not yet followed up to get a copy of the “full” report yet.
Ted then called in a whole host of totally awesome bike safety gurus and advocates and although we all tried our best to track down that mystery hit-and-run bus, we had no luck.
Luckily, I had the maximum allowable “uninsured motorist” coverage on my insurance policy and the lovely folks at Mercury were completely delightful and helpful throughout my ordeal. They made sure I got all the medical help and PT I needed to heal well and they speedily processed my property damage claim.
Three cheers for the insurance industry!
(That’s not normal either, I know!)

#5 Sideswiped in Playa (~April 2014)

Unlike San Vicente (site of the first sideswiping), Culver Blvd. is notorious. Lots of potholes. Lots of roadkill to dodge. No bike lane. Narrow and, in fact, disappearing traffic lanes — what start off at 3 north-bound lanes turn into just 1 during less than a 1/2-mile stretch. That 1/2-mile stretch also is a reliable source of EPICALLY awesome tailwinds.

So, there I was, flying along the road, pretty much doing the same speed as the cars (~30mph) and some jagoff “doesn’t see me” (I assume) so he just keeps on driving (into me) even though his lane is disappearing and my titanium-infused skeleton becomes magnetically attracted to the side of his car and we moved as one very terrifying unified 6-wheeled monster until he eventually outpaced me and I somehow got unstuck AND remained upright.

YAY for well-developed bike-handling skills!

My elbow and hand were bashed and bruised, but in terms of “getting hit by a car,” this was about as awesome(?) as it gets.

#6 Right-Hooked BY A CYCLIST (yesterday)

Easy ride. Keep heart rate under 135. Stay flat. Get bored.

Or…. get right-hooked by a car that has a Specialized Roubaix appended to its rear end from which a driver still wearing his cycling kit, INCLUDING HIS CLEATS, emerges and says not just: “I didn’t see you” but also “Didn’t you see me turning?”

W.  T.  F.?

I’m still stuck to my bike and laying on the ground trying to unclip and you, you fat fuck driver wearing cycling shoes, you think that I’m the one responsible for this? You passed me (but “didn’t see me” even though you know cyclists are always out here) and you decide to turn into me, without signaling, mind you, and you apparently also have an expectation that I am supposed to stop and yield for you to make your right-hand turn?!?  That’s not how it works, dude.

These are the thoughts I was thinking. I did not actually SAY any of them, however, because 2 totally awesome, outstanding, upstanding pedestrian witnesses took him to task for me. Thank you lovely bystanders who (a) understand the law, (b) clearly saw what happened, and (c) remained calm and resolute throughout the post-impact experience.

Thank you, also, for:

  • Staying with me the entire time while I waited for my adrenaline to dissipate.
  • Making that fat-assed cleat-wearer stay and wait until I decided that I wasn’t in need of medical care (especially when he said: You look fine to me, and I’ve got to get to my kids’ soccer game).
  • Calling me today to make sure that I was ok.

And, yes, I really AM ok. Decent nick on my elbow. Rainbow bruise on my hip. General dorsal soreness. But my Wolverine®-like healing powers have been fully activated and the bike is now fine, too. Her shifters were super shifted, but Diego waved a magic wand and put everything back into place and I kinda like the little nicks on her hoods because they remind me that we’ve managed to survive yet again.

CZ: 6 / Cars: 0

Top 6 Lessons Learned

  1. Pedestrians rock.
  2. Drivers are clueless.
  3. I am mentally ill.
  4. Life is an adventure.
  5. Life goes on.
  6. This sign would be REALLY helpful:

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