Bike shops across the country will tell you there are two types of cyclists: those who have crashed, and those who haven’t crashed yet.
It’s true. And it happened to me recently. I was struck head on by a car while I crossed an intersection with the right-of-way and green light. It was a bright sunny day. I was more than half way through the intersection when the light turned yellow and a car from the opposite direction decided to run the light. There was nowhere for me to go but directly into the grill of the car. I flew over my handle bars, leaving one shoe clipped in my pedal, the other coming with me, landed on my shoulder, and rolled to a stop on the car’s windshield. Ouch. WTF!
After 6 hours in the hospital, a chiropractor visit, two orthopedic doctor visits, it appears I am getting better. The road to full recovery will certainly be long but hopefully not indefinite. The reality is also clear, I am very lucky. Thank you to fellow cyclist who shared intimate stories of other crashes, from death to dismemberment. Not fun, share the road.
Here are a few things I have learned since my crash.
- No matter who is right or wrong, the crash will always hurt the cyclist more. I clearly had the right of way but that does not change my recovery time.
- Be careful of what you say while on the scene. I was very thankful of the men and women who came to my aid at the scene of my crash that I tried to stay positive and understanding. It turned out that some of the things I said were initially misinterpreted but eventually corrected later. Also, if you can, take pictures of everything. Even after you leave the scene, photograph your bike, body, and anything else that was affected in the crash. You will need to explain the story to someone who was not there.
- If you are being taken to a hospital by ambulance, ask to go to the one you prefer. Sometimes the closest one is not the best facility or the ideal location for your family to pick you up. The EMS might not be able to grant your request but it is worth asking.
- Ask whoever is going to pick you up to bring a change of clothes. The hospital will most likely cut your clothes off so you should try to avoid the walk of shame through the parking lot in a hospital gown.
- Pay for uninsured motorist coverage on your auto policy. The at-fault person in my accident cancelled their policy two weeks before the crash. I have subsequently learned that 1 in 6 motorists are uninsured. Scary.
- Seriously consider hiring an attorney. They understand the process and will protect your interest. Most importantly, it will allow you to focus on your recovery. My attorney was the one who discovered the uninsured issue. I can only imagine the effort it would have taken me to find out that information. If you do not know one, call your local bike shop or bike association.
- Wear your helmet every time you are on your bike. I was less than two miles from home!
- Be patient. The recovery will be longer than you think and the process will be frustrating. On top of that you will not like being inactive. I was training for Ironman Maryland after having an awesome race at Ironman Lake Placid. After a few weeks off and some sympathy eating/drinking, I feel like I am back to 5k fitness. The most important thing is to recover at a pace and manner that gets you back to where you were. Don’t rush it.