Figuring that the weather would stump my riding for today, tomorrow and maybe Sunday, I started out from my house yesterday to focus on a ‘power/strength’ training ride of about 30’ish miles. My subdivision is off a main thoroughfare (Duluth Hwy 120), which motorists almost NEVER go the posted 45mph limit…but rather more like 50-60mph. No problems on this stretch that took me to Sugarloaf Pkwy intersection (1 mile away). The light was red and I had stopped at the very front. Once the light turned green, I started out of the saddle and was going to stay out all the way up the hill to the next light.
About 50 feet into my re-start, a black Lexus hit my leg, causing me to bounce off the side of his passenger door. I quickly regained my balance (much easier when you are out of the saddle) but then he jerked his wheel to the right and hit me again. For a second, I thought he was going to stop but he turned at the next light into Discover Mall, to try and avoid being caught. Surprisingly, the car behind this now hit-and-run suspect, never slowed down; didn’t seem to care whatsoever, as I tried to get his attention to stop and help me to hopefully chase after the guy.
When I got to the top of the hill and turned right at the light, a guy in a SUV yelled at me that he got the car tag. WOW, where did he come from? My newly found witness was in the 3rd lane to the left when he saw me bounce off the Lexus. He hit the gas and tried to follow the guy but he just couldn’t get over fast enough to stay with him.
We both decided to go around the mall parking lot to hopefully catch a glimpse of this guy, but to no avail. After re-joining on the opposite side of the mall, we called 911 and a very friendly police officer (who happened to be a cyclist, too) showed up and made a report. However, with the partial tag, he said there was no way to track him down but if we did, then he would be charged with hit-and-run and assault with a deadly weapon. Once the officer left, we both decided to go thru every parking lane in the whole mall to see if this guy was actually still there; he was gone.
OK, now to my 2 points I referenced that I learned about being hit and how I will use them going forward. First, the officer told us that about 1 in 100, does one actually get a license tag correct for them to check. Not being something that we do everyday or on our minds, it is harder for us to immediately draw our attention to them…especially when you are just hit by a car. Like me, you probably yell out and even try to pedal your heart out in hopes of catching up to them at a traffic light; almost never happens. So, going forward, I will not concentrate on yelling out but focus my entire attention to the license plate. You get this and you get your perp. I understand the yelling out is a natural reaction but I will force myself to focus on that metal tag. The second part is to do something that I already am capable of doing but just get lazy…and that’s mount my GoPro on my bike every time I ride (especially) by myself. It’s a major pain and inconvenience to keep charged and then delete all the video after each ride but had I had that yesterday (and that thought actually ran across my mind before I left my garage), this perp would have been arrested and hauled off to jail by now. I won’t make that mistake again.
Unfortunately, this is not the 1st time I have been hit by a vehicle. The last time was when I was warming up for the local famous Tucker Ride one Saturday morning. This truck hit me while I was riding 25mph and he was going no less than 50mph+. His passenger mirror literally shattered into countless pieces, like slamming a sledge hammer into a car window, as it met my left arm with great force. Incredibly, I was not knocked off my bike (even though I was riding in the saddle) but I will say I practice quick diversion drills every time I clip in and there is no doubt this instinctual reaction helped me then and again yesterday. That brings me to a very important point for every cyclist:
If you wait to practice a specific drill (or skill) until the time you need it, it is too late. Leaving it all up to chance of how you actually react, is just not a good idea or safe. What you practice (or don’t) will be what you actually do in those split-second incidences. That is why I cover specific topics in my Riding Skills session, that EVERY cyclist needs to know and constantly practice.
Of course, I hope you never experience what I did yesterday but if you do, then focus your attention on that precious license plate and (if you don’t have one yet) then pull the footage from your GoPro so police and detectives can see what really happened. I was very shaken up by being hit but even moreso of this guy’s intentional 2nd hit by steering his car directly into me. I got back on the bike and finished out my 36 mile ride but I have to be honest, I never felt relaxed till I unclipped inside my garage.
One final thought: maybe I should think about wearing MORE yellow. What do you think???
See ya on the road,