Just(ice) Riding Along
I was hit by a car on a road training ride a few weeks ago and the major accident outcome per the highway patrol report couldn’t have been more...poignant?
In the wake of protests in 2020, mainly regarding equality and fair treatment across the board, something happened to me. I am a veteran cyclist, a cat 2 semi-pro track sprinter and have road ridden since 2009. I’ve had a myriad of bikes and ridden in many US states, not to mention some of Canada. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful places pictures can’t put into words on two wheels (biking Crater Lake at sunset was surreal to say the least) and I will never take this sport for granted.
A few weeks ago, I was hit by a car. I never thought it would happen to me! I’m cautious, cognizant and obey traffic laws. I hug the right side of the road and don’t like group rides much. Do take into account that I have ridden and raced on 50-degree velodrome embankments with tons of other riders on fixed gears (bikes with no brakes), so bikes and obstacles are almost second nature to me.
I had ridden the route I took at least 50 times. It’s one of my weekly regulars - some days I ride it 3 or 4 times in a row (it’s a short ten mile loop). Sunday night around 5 I just wanted to get my training done so I could head to the gym, and about 4 miles in I look up and there is a car backing up directly into me. It wasn’t coming from the driveway so I couldn’t swerve to the left— it was backing up to my left on the same side of the road as me and cutting the wheel to back INTO the driveway ahead of me to my right. So basically, the vehicle was backing up and turning in reverse as I was going forward. This meant that I really had no where to go besides into the car. The driver didn’t see me — all they had to do was stop turning or pull forward so I could ride past (again, I was just riding along the far right side of the road per the route my Garmin GPS tracks) but, again, they didn’t see me. Ironically, for them to back into their driveway on a highway they would have had to pass me regardless as I was riding, coming up on/close to their driveway for them to get ahead of me, stop, and then back up. I was going about 17mph according to my watch, the speed limit on that street is 25 for reference. We made impact. Ensuing, the entire left side of my body was mangled - wrist, arm, a quad sized hematoma that I will have to most likely get surgically removed. Concussion because I was knocked unconscious as I fell to the ground, contusions all over. I don’t remember how I got off of my bike, how I hit the car or how I stood up. I don’t know where my bike ended up or how it got to the side of the road. I just remember screaming, having a flashback of falling to the ground and the next thing I know I was standing again, my blood was boiling. My first instinct was to beat the living shit (pardon my French) out of whoever was driving as it looked like they were driving away - their trunk was open and the car was moving forward so I remember bending down to look at the license plate and literally trying to jump in the open trunk because I thought she was going to hit and run. She then stopped and by that time I needed to go lie down. I was requesting bystanders to ask me questions to make sure my brain was ok and I could remember things - who I was, what day it was, what my address was etc. My left arm was numb, my fingers were tingling and I was so scared I would be a vegetable - my body is my life.
I’ve been a high level competitive bodybuilder (on top of cyclist) since 2008 and was 3 weeks out from my next contest. I also run a technical performance cold apparel brand called névé, which has endured me personally pilot testing out snow legging prototypes edging out the hundreds of days in winter and part of the reason I moved to Big Bear to begin with.
I was taken away by ambulance immediately, and don’t remember talking to anyone besides the paramedic & a neighbor. No law enforcement came to speak to me at the hospital so I wasn’t even sure there was a police report filed. It’s been nearly 3 weeks and I had to back out of my contest, my bike race and I am discussing surgery options with doctors. I spoke with my attorneys and they were able to acquire the CHP report that was filed. I took a look, and what I read took my breath away:
“Car going in reverse. Cyclist solely at fault. Unsafe cycling speed.”
Say what? if the car was strictly going in reverse without turning into a driveway, I would have simply ridden past it. There was absolutely nothing I could have done to expect her to back into a driveway off of a main road, and let alone into me! Now I have watch data to show I was on the right side of the road, watch data to show I was only going 17mph but for an officer who had not even come to the hospital to get an actual statement from me besides immediately after what happened (that I don’t remember in the least) say that I was at fault because someone backed up into me is absolutely heart-wrenching. What if I ended up paralyzed? Brain impaired? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE.
The purpose of my post is not to ask for justice, or to ask for equality. Frankly, I just wish people would look out for cyclists. With that being said, I’m not sure on what planet my excessive speed going 8mph under the speed limit caused a car to reverse turn back into me and get away unscathed while I’m asked to pay for her broken trunk.
The purpose of my post is, however, that life isn’t always fair. Am I going to fight this with every ounce of FACT present via garmin data, my injuries and the concept that if a car was backing up without turning it wouldn’t have hit me to begin with? Absolutely. But you know what? In the words of my older, wiser father:
Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you.
It’s almost as if I wish I could put some sort of call to action here. “Donate to ___”, or “sign ____ petition“ but what can I even do? My ask is to just be a good person. If you back into someone, especially someone on a bike, take responsibility. But let’s just take a step back and hope that never happens to you... so just be a decent human being regardless.
Founder & CEO, névé apparel
Thanks to everyone that has reached out, helped, and gone above and beyond for me. Especially those that have sent me snacks (lol, you guys know I love my snacks) and also those that check up on me constantly and are just the best support system, even when Covid (and borders in some cases) don’t let me be with you all in person. You know how appreciated you are.