Note From Jon


Monday, September 22, 2008

Side-view Century

Usually when a biker gets hit by a car, the biker takes more damage than the car. Thankfully, I was the rare exception to that in my head-on collision with a pick-up truck about 40 miles into my Century ride. I’d like to think I was just that determined to finish the 100 miles, but it probably had more to do with getting hit by the one part of the truck which would give way before my arm did—the side mirror.

Even before the collision it was an eventful morning. No more than five miles in I discovered the flaw in my plan to pre-hydrate for the race. I felt the call of nature and had another 22 miles until the sanctioned rest stop. The problem is this area is not populated enough to have a gas station or restaurant I could pop into, but populated enough to have fences and houses discouraging me from stopping just anywhere. By mile 13 I knew there was no way I was making it all the way to the rest stop and my standards for a bathroom had diminished considerably—from isolated woodland to anywhere without a fence. I was seriously considering Tour-de-France-style (i.e. while riding) but figured I wasn’t skilled enough to stay on the bike let alone avoid pissing off the neighbors (or on myself). So you can imagine my joy when I found a ten foot gap in the fence above a dry culvert with a few trees beyond. I practically leapt off my bike and ran to the first tree. I was safe. And then I looked up. Directly above my “urinal” was a wriggling mass of bees. But by now I was… committed. And vulnerable. As the first bee flew from the tree and landed on me I prayed that my yellow and black jersey would convince it that I was a friend. My disguise worked as the other bees left me alone. By the end I felt so comfortable with my new friends I decided to document them. What I hadn’t anticipated was… the camera flash. Needless to say I ran back to the bike even faster than I had run from it.

After that everything was perfect until the fateful curve I took at 11:00. As the truck and I approached the curve on Meyerstown Road I could see that he was turning farther and farther into my lane. At first I assumed he was just taking a tight turn and I hugged the right side of my lane. By now he was entirely in my lane and I assumed he was trying to scare me (I’ve heard bikers aren’t well loved in these parts). But when he didn’t veer off I was sure he was trying to run me down. Before I had a chance to abandon the road altogether and careen into the fence, there was a thunderous (to me anyway) smash as the side mirror exploded off of my arm and shattered on the road. Somehow I managed to keep a grip on my bike and coast to a stop. Apparently the driver hadn’t noticed me biking towards him, and it did seem from his reaction that he was oblivious rather than malicious. I was shaken up but otherwise uninjured and after a discussion with the driver I cruised to the next rest stop powered mostly by adrenaline. I’m sure the mirror-less driver and I were both considerably more vigilant after that.

Thankfully the second fifty miles started with seeing my family at the midway point and were mostly memorable for the bucolic scenery, the delicious food served at the rest stops, and my amazement that I felt as strong at mile 85 as I had at mile 45, despite having never ridden more than 65 miles. I even sprinted the last two miles in an effort to finish in under 6 hours and 30 minutes on the bike (I did succeed even though my bike computer kept counting an additional two seconds once I had stopped!). Despite the close calls described above it was a fantastic experience that I would recommend to anyone and when combined with all the post-ride celebrations it was one of the best days of my life. Thank you to everyone who supported me in accomplishing this (specifically the Potomac Peddlers Touring Club for putting this Historic Back Roads Century on, Darren for inspiration, my family for support, Mimsi for many of these photos, and of course my post-ride masseuse—I am not even sore today!).

PPTC Historic Back Roads Century at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging


Mare! said...

WHAT!?!? You failed to mention this in our chat session! OUCH!! Hope your arm is doing okay, but I'm betting it's pretty sore.

Banana said...

Dude, WTF?!?!? You totally looked fine at the 50 stop. I guess you stayed on your bike . . . .

You're hard core.

Darren said...

Jon way to go buddy, pretty proud that you did this basically by yourself. I think the plan worked with you going on some PPTC rides to build up to the century. Now the question will he do it again?

banana said...

And where? Mebbie PA or NC next? DB is Mr. "Have bike, will travel"--is it time to put up?

Anonymous said...

Jon, We are so proud of you as we have been for years and years. I can't believe you had a "run in" with the truck. You did not say a word about it!! Mimsi said you didn't want to worry me. What a fantastic son you are. We loved being there and rejoicing with you. When is your next century ride?
Love, Mom

joel said...

don't stop now Jon, you're legs are ready for more rides! Rosarito to Ensenada? Irvine to San Diego? Pacific Ocean breeze, no confederate flags, maybe even a few Mexican flags.