Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How I got hit by a bike. On purpose.

Mini-blog!  With (terrible) pics!

I had a weird incident Monday afternoon on the Mount Vernon Trail, not too far from National Airport.  I mentioned it on The Tweeter, but really couldn't do it justice in 140 characters.  Not even 280:





So I thought I'd try and draw out what happened using my Mac. I found a great Paint-esque (free) program called Paintbrush for Mac, which (1) will make it easier to describe what happened, and (2) will demonstrate why I went into law, not art.

The section of the Mount Vernon Trail where I was running runs right NEXT to the George Washington Parkway, a 4-lane fast moving highway that is picturesque, but also quite zippy.  But the trail and the highway are really REALLY close to each other in this stretch.  

How close?

Using Garmin Data, my watch detected a slight lowering of my pace right . . . about . . . 


Here.

So.  Using Google Maps with Garmin, here's the spot of the crash, which will show you where the highway is relative to the trail:



Eek.  Despite Garmin's insistence, while we ended up ABOUT that close to the highway, we weren't actually IN the road (the green "play" symbol is where Garmin thinks I was when I came to a complete stop).  But I'm jumping ahead (although if you're reading this, you know I wasn't (1) flattened by an out-of-control bike, and (2) we weren't ground into pink/red stains on the GW Parkway by traffic, so that's nice.

Anyway.

So, here's a (very) rough outline of the trail:


From left to right:  MV Trail, grassy patch, GW Parkway.

THEN, let's add me, wearing my trusty red Washington Nationals shirt with the Curly W in the upper center (although truth be told, I was wearing blue for Memorial Day):

Those are little blue sweat beads coming off me, because it was a HOT HOT afternoon run, while the bicyclist is shitting himself because he lost a shoe/cleat (poop not pictured because this is a fucking tasteful blog, assholes).

I saw the cyclist coming towards me, but then he took a sharp (like 45 degree left turn AT me and raised some sort of alarm (like, "WHOOOAAAAAAA").  It was clear he'd lost control ("Really Tai? A cyclist was suddenly was aiming at you and yelling in distress was out of control?  You weave quite a riveting tale.  I mean, you're an idiot.")

As it turned out, he'd lost his right shoe, and what looked like the cleat as well, but was going FAST and couldn't stop. Perhaps he didn't want to, what do I know?  He made a pronounced turn in a direction that can only be described as DIRECTLY THE EFF AT ME.

I also could see the traffic, which was, of course, at 4pm on a Holiday Monday, doing Mach Bazillion.

I had a few choices:

1.  Stop and let him zip by me. 
--Not a great idea, because I could end up like the Seinfeld finale and prosecuted for bystanding or something

2.  Get directly in front of him to stop him.
--I'm not super adept at physics, but that seemed like it would hurt.

3.  Sidestep him, then try to grab at him to slow him down.
--Oh, sure, why not?

The force of my run carried me a little past him, so I stopped, he went past me slightly to my right as I turned, and I grabbed at his handlebars to slow him down.  His left foot was still locked into his cleat, and he was pulling up with it to no avail.

(No, he wasn't hitting his breaks from what I could tell, or if he was, it was gentle because he didn't want to fall.  He was panicking, and I know that position/paralysis well, because I fight it off EVERY TIME I GET ON A BIKE.)

So I sidestepped and grabbed at him, which did slow him, but we grazed each other and I went down to one knee. I felt my right pinky get rattled by the spokes of his front wheel as I flailed at him, but I'd slowed him enough that I stood up, pursued a step or two, and grabbed at his bike seat from behind.  Maybe he WAS breaking -- I definitely fell, and was still able to get up and go after him within a couple of steps, and I definitely reached his bike seat too.  It was all a blur of wham, pain, fall, finger, ouch, up, grab, fall.

We went down together -- me, him, and his bike -- in a heap, his front wheel less than a foot from the highway.  Or, as my Garmin data appeared to think, in the right northbound lane of traffic.


The "S" is where the impact started after I sidestepped him, the dotted yellow line is his path, and the "F" is where we ended up after all the falling and flailing.

Not quite in traffic.  Whew.

Anyway, he was still laying down (I think his left foot was STILL attached to the pedal), with his right foot underneath the bike.  I then realized he had a wife and his daughter with him.  I hadn't seen them initially because he was ahead of them and fast-moving.  They were talking familiarly with him, and it was clear they were "together."  His daughter got his shoe and thing off the right side of the trail, and his wife was seeing how he was.  She (not him) said "thank you" about 50 times, and I just smiled, trying not to say, "Um, wtf just happened?" because, let's face it, I'd probably be afraid to just lay the bike down if I were out of control too. 

So I stood up, checked if my finger was broken from the spokes (it wasn't, it just smarted a whole damn lot), and I noticed that my Garmin was still running.  The guy already appeared to be extricating himself from under his bike, and didn't raise any need for medical attention, so I just waved as he did thank me, and took off, finishing my 10 miles.  Seriously, if he hadn't said anything, I would have thought he was more hurt, but I suspect his pride took the biggest hit.

As I ran, I thought to myself, "Aragorn would have made that look WAY cooler."

Seriously.  When Aragorn was defending the Hobbits on Weathertop, fighting Ringwraiths with a TORCH, did he fall over, flail, and say something like, "WHOOOAAAAA?"  Liv Tyler would NEVER be into him if he did that!



Instead, me and this guy fell into A PILE ON THE SIDE OF A HIGHWAY.

There's a South Park episode where hundreds of men have sex with each other to prevent illegal immigration (don't ask), and I'm pretty sure the incident resulted in us looking WAY more like them than Aragorn protecting Hobbits:


I wonder if any of the cars photographed us in OUR pile???

So anyway, that was my Memorial Day long run, and how I, on purpose, made sure that I got hit by a bike.  I don't know how I get myself into these things.

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