Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bought a new bike... because I nearly got killed

I learned a hard lesson about riding a bike that doesn't really "fit" you as opposed to riding one you can dismount quickly and steer swiftly.

Long story short, last Thursday night, a driver ran a stop sign. Then he STOPPED in the middle of the intersection when he finally saw me approaching, quickly, downhill. I screamed at the top my lungs for him to move. He accelerated (honest to GOD, was he stupid???). I whizzed past his back-end and nearly wrapped myself and my bike around a lamp post. I came home, told my husband I had to get a proper bike and I got a proper ROAD bike.

It's a Giant Cypress LX W. It's the most amazing bike I've ever owned. Last night, I rode 16 km up hills and over bumps like it was butter. Nothing hurt. I can stop, dismount and hop off in seconds. I almost wept.

And I want to be honest with you, I am only taking a 5-day vacation but my mental health break started much earlier. So many of you are freaking out about PAN AM. I have no idea how to help anyone deal because I have no idea what the impact will be.

How I've been coping is I imagine Friday nights when a Raptors game, Jays game, Slipknot concert and Disney on Ice are all letting out at the same time. I have done many of these nights.

Those of you who haven't, yes, you will probably become alcoholics.

I've already beat you to it.


KM said...

When I made the switch from a too small, way too heavy bike with all terain tires to my lovely, light road bike my life changed!!!

C.J. Smith said...

I can totally understand. I only wish I had done this three years ago.

Bicky said...

Ah, drank. Yes!

J. Allan said...

As a bicyclist, you need never ask if a motorist is stupid. I always assume that every car I encounter is piloted by at best a 6 year old, and at worst, a homicidal maniac bent on killing everyone he sees that day. Very little surprises me, except for drivers that give me and my bike adequate passing room.

C.J. Smith said...

I've decided riding through subdivisions is a certain part of Hell I need to avoid.

Anonymous said...

Should get a coaches whistle and blow it. It can be heard a mile away.

I use a whistle and I will blow it if drivers don't stop.

Anonymous said...

Definitely add a horn and LED lights front and back.

C.J. Smith said...

No horn but lights yes. Whistle is a good idea. Have one of those. Will get a horn too. Something loud like a siren.

Anonymous said...

Car drivers are the problem?

Obviously you never noticed all the cyclists running stop signs, riding on the sidewalk, passing open streetcar doors, riding on the subway/go platforms, ... I nearly got hit by some asshat cycling on the sidewalk last night when I exited the streetcar on Queen.

Then you get all the cyclists who think it's safe to pass a right turning car/truck/bus on the right, and then their family screams to the media about car/truck safety when they get smushed by a truck.

I'm not blaming you for what happened, but a little more defensive riding may save your skin someday. Being right is no good when you're dead.

Cyclists are really hard to see, especially if they are moving fast. Most car drivers make improper stops. Have your bike under control at all times, be ready to stop at any intersection, even if you have the right of way. If you can't see them in their mirror, chances are they don't know you are beside them. Even if you can, they still probably don't know you're there. If you are passing a few parked cars, and there is one with the wheels turned left, or you see somebody in the drivers seat, be careful, you may get doored or the person may pull out in front of you. Stuff like that.

You may have the right of way, but if you can save yourself from getting hurt it's better than being dead right.

C.J. Smith said...

I didn't say car drivers were a problem. I am a driver myself. This situation was one where the driver saw me and chose to run the stop sign anyway expecting me to deal with it. Second, I admitted I had been riding a bike not suited to me.
I don't ride in downtown Toronto.
I don't represent all cyclists nor do I speak for cyclists.
The point of this post was to mention the dangers of riding a bike that doesn't fit you when dealing with a dangerous driver.
I also didn't say I was in the "right". I did have right of way but also didn't expect this driver to suddenly stop in the middle of the intersection.
I will tell you that a week later it is now apparent this driver did this deliberately. As if to teach me a lesson.
I've since learned that some drivers will do this because they have a hate-on for anyone on 2 wheels.
I can't fix that but I can be more aware.
But don't make this about all cyclists are bad. There are bad cyclists and there are bad drivers.
There are also good drivers and I see way more of them while riding than I do bad ones.
Thank you for writing in.

Anonymous said...

The drivers versus cyclists argument got boring years ago...

C.J. Smith said...

I agree. And I'm tired of it. How about we all just be kind to one another? Driving/Cycling isn't about being right.

Anonymous said...

I've never come close to hitting a cyclist or pedestrian despite all the things 'they' (that includes me) do wrong. Why? Because I'm steering a tonne of metal a few feet from flesh and bones so I PAY ATTENTION. I don't want to hit someone then take solace in the fact that it wasn't my fault. And I don't want to waste my time trying to get people to behave properly, 100% of the time. It won't happen, ever - for cyclists, pedestrians or drivers.

We all flout the rules and take risks. That will never change. But a driver flouting the rules is less likely to wind up dead. As a driver you have a lethal weapon under you and therefore more responsibility - whether you like it or not - to look out for everyone else.

By all means scream at the idiot cyclist, just don't hit him.

J. Allan said...

Where's the like button? I wanna hit it a few million times here