Tuesday, May 07, 2013

I Love Johnny Sprockets


I got into a bike-on-bike collision this morning.

Should have been prepared for it five minutes earlier. I had tempted fate. Thought about how riding my bike everyday to work would make me sooooo healthy and all that. I stopped congratulating myself when I remembered that riding a bike could be risky: a crazy, fatal uncontrollable accident could happen at any moment.

Of course, I had an accident five minutes later.

Below is a map of the intersection where the accident occurred:


View Larger Map

Imagine me coming from the southwest corner heading north on the Lakefront Trail. I'm having a grand old time, taking in the nice weather, feeling the wind in my face, finally waking up from the morning slog. All the usual, pleasant, quiet before the storm stuff.

I notice some guy on a street bike speeding down from the northwest on W Belmont Harbor Drive. He takes as sharp a right turn as he can to head southwest down the Lakefront Trail. The guy probably can't turn that sharp, though, or he'll flip the bike or something.

Looking back I can rationalize the course of events that way.

At the time, my sense of causality both slowed down and skipped a couple frames at the same time. My mind saw what unfolded in front of me and refused to accept it. What idiot would be crossing into my lane and head straight toward me? It failed to make sense, so I put my trust into this guy. He must know what he's doing and must be going fast enough to avoid collision. Why else would he try to cross the path if he didn't know he could do it?

He was an idiot. He had no idea what he was doing. He took the right onto the path too fast and had completely lost control.

I didn't make all those connections until the very last moment. I entered avoid the idiot mode. I tried turning left as best I could. It wasn't enough. Of course, my instincts didn't let me turn that sharp. If I did, I would flip or wipe out on the pavement.

Through all the slo-mo frame skipping, I realized the futility of avoidance. I entered the next stage: loss control. Keeping injury to a minimum, that is. I had just ran my front wheel into this guy's back wheel then had jumped off my bike, after all. It's funny how we have thoughts about consequences before being conscious of the cause sometimes. I think a part of my mind had chuckled at this observation while my repitilian mind had focused on preventing major wounds by crashing into the grass.

No major wounds that I know of. I have my left wrist wrapped up in a bandage right now, but I had anger surging through me, the fear of being late to work, worry about hospital bills and possible bike repairs. Money's tight right now. . .and what?! My handlebars were in a super weird angle!

I became determined to get the guy's number. After cursing him out a little, I told him he would give me his name and number. . .after I turned on my phone. I assume I gave him a steely glare and curled my lip (the lip thing is what I do when I'm angry, apparently).

My phone always takes a little time to boot up. The guy asked me if I had a pen and paper. I told him no. He would just have to wait and wait he did.

All that settled, I made my way to work. The handlebars at their odd angle took a little getting used to, but I got it down. Amazing how our minds and bodies can compensate for distortions in reality that don't cause injury.

The adrenaline started wearing out. I popped a couple Ibuprofen at work. Wrist hasn't swollen at all. Pain isn't all that bad. Keeping it wrapped and elevated should probably do the trick in a couple weeks.

This accident makes for my third bike accident in Chicago (Michi didn't appreciate me smacking into a car a couple days before we got married. . .again, just got banged up is all). If I'm not in the emergency room by now, I just need some R&R.

I worried more about the cost of fixing the handlebars than dealing with my wrist. Even if I have to get x-rays and stuff, health insurance will handle it well enough until I get the dumb ass other guy to pay for stuff. I would have to pay 100% out of pocket to repair my bike until I get reimbursed. . .and reimbursement isn't guaranteed. Along with being an idiot, the guy could be a jerk, too.

Imagine how relieved I felt when one of the register people up front at Johnny Sprockets diagnosed the problem, fixed it in five minutes then didn't charge me a cent. I even asked if it cost anything. The guy just said nope.

I don't know if it has anything to do with being a regular for repairs there. Could just be that they're awesome for things that take minimal effort.

Doesn't matter. They're awesome. I love Johnny Sprockets and don't hesitate to tell anyone to go there for their bike needs. If you have bike needs, go. They just might help you feel like there's still good in the world after a crappy day of worry and pain from a dumb bike accident that you had little chance of avoiding.

And oh yeah, don't be an idiot when you making tight turns on your bike. Slow down and take your time.

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