There are many positives from pedaling a bicycle; really, too numerous to mention. But there also are a myriad of examples — witnessed on virtually every ride — that remind you it can be a very dangerous activity. Whether it be for sport, recreation, or transportation.
Motorists fiddling with their cellphones ... putting their makeup on ... reaching across the seat for an object ... driving twice the legal speed limit. On and on it goes. This isn't to say that cyclists never perform knucklehead moves; quite the contrary.
All this comes to mind because of a court case that reached its conclusion last week in Colorado. Here's the gist of the story:
An elite track cyclist, on his way home from a velodrome, was hit from behind by a driver and left on the side of the road in 2019. That's right, he didn't even stop. The motorist, who wasn't apprehended until this past summer, ended up pleading guilty to various charges. His sentence consisted of two years in prison, mandatory parole, and restitution.
During the proceedings, it was learned that the motorist thought he had hit someone, but recalled it was "only a tap."
The victim, present at the arraignment, gave a statement, reflecting on the crash and the resulting impact on his life. His injuries included 35 broken bones, internal bleeding, and a concussion. Along with months of physical therapy — before, now, and into the future — he must use braces to support a partially paralyzed leg and insert a catheter several times a day to urinate, because of the loss of feeling. And this is only part of what he faces, day after day after day.
Despite everything, this remarkable individual was thankful to be alive and still able to have the opportunity to fulfill his dreams.
I've often wondered how I'd be if I became paralyzed as the result of a bicycle accident. Or hurt badly enough that I couldn't ride again. One could easily be paralyzed with fear just thinking about it, which is kind of how I felt after reading the story. We all know a few cyclists who have abandoned the road because of the ever-present risks.
As if on cue, while out riding the other day — and contemplating in my mind how I was going to present this posting — I was passed by a pickup with less than a foot of spacing between me and the vehicle.
Yes, I know the dangers of pedaling a bicycle. My wife lives in fear that I could get hit. But I hope I never get to the point where I'm forced to only cycle off-road; limiting the freedom I've enjoyed since my first ride as a kid growing up in Michigan. With the arrival of colder temperatures, fewer of us are venturing out on two wheels. But I pray that all motorists will continue to pay attention when it comes to sharing the road. Stay safe out there!
'Thought for the day'
"We each carry our own Tour de France inside us." — Philippe Brunel, French journalist and author of "Kings of Pain: Masters and Convicts of the Road" (my all-time favorite cycling book)
From "Words To Ride By ... Thoughts on Bicycling" by Michael Carabetta (Chronicle Books, 2017)