I was all set to do the Europa Marathon race this weekend (don’t let the name fool you, it’s a bike race) that crosses 2 international borders over some really nice rolling terrain… but it looks like I won’t be going…
I set off for a 100 mile ride today under sunny skies and a stiff 15mph headwind as I headed for Austria. I was pretty amazed that after 4 miles I had a 20mph average, even with the headwind. I was sure it wouldn’t last. 5 miles, 6, 7, 10, 12 … still 20.2 mph average. “Not bad,” I thought, “if I turn around now my average would probably be something like 22 or 23 mph for 30 miles. But I needed a long ride today and I bailed on yesterdays attempt because I “wasn’t feelin’ it” and my bike was making noises at me. So I went home, fixed her up and today was doing well. I decided not to bring a headcam or camera… which is too bad, the next few hours would have many memorable moments.
I got into wide-open farm country and just as I passed through the last small village before the brutal headwind, a motor scooter passed by. I drafted behind him as the guy ramped it up to full throttle as we both entered the headwind. He was a great draft and allowed me to keep a solid 26mph pace into the headwind on the windiest 2 mile stretch of the ride. He was dressed in rather drab and dull baggy clothing, but a fancy looking leather briefcase was carefully attached to the back of the scooter with a bungee cord, hinting at his double life. Suddenly he backed off the accelerator to force me to go around. So I passed him and moments later he passed me but seemed upset as soon as I started drafting again. He yelled something but between his noisy machine and the blowing wind (not to mention a language barrier) his words were never heard nor understood. He let off again and this time stayed behind me. Apparently he didn’t see the backwards logic of me doing the pulling into the wind as I could only muster 20mph.
“A very attractive Czech nurse holding a squirt bottle bent over… It was…
very dirty. … the hand, the hand… geez, what did you think I meant?”
The underpowered and unhelpful scooter soon fell behind and at some point turned onto a different road. I entered the next section which is incredibly bumpy for 2 miles. If there was a mountain bike trail beside the road I would take it – as a dirt path would certainly be smoother and faster.
Up ahead, a delivery truck was parked on a little driveway-type piece of road where you can park your car (and go fishing I suppose). As I neared it, I saw a dog and the owner of the truck off the side of the road. Just as I got close, it was apparent that the dog was not on a leash. I think it’s a law that you have to have a dog on a leash here – or maybe its just within city limits?? Anyway, the big muscular yellow lab was all juiced up and was jumping around. As soon as I passed the truck, the dog ran out into the road and there was no time to even hit the brakes.
I stuffed my front wheel square into his rib cage at a speed of 21mph and unfortunately, he was much bigger than my wheel and was able to bring my bike from 21 to 0 mph in milliseconds. Over the bars I went and found a nice soft patch of pavement to land on.
The immediate reaction after most road bike accidents seems to be one of “ok, that sucked but I’m fine” but I was quite upset at this joker who let his dog play fetch with my front wheel. So I let out a very loud expletive as I laid on the rough tarmac. I noticed my knee was bleeding though. “Oh, and my elbow. Ut, hand too. Is that my GPS laying in the middle of the road?” A little Skoda came racing down the road in the same direction I was headed and appeared to be quite underwhelmed by the scene as it continued giving it more gas, bouncing around until finally decided to swerve into the other lane to avoid the crazy dog, truck driver, bike laying in the road, some sunglasses, a waterbottle, a GPS, and some idiot biker cursing and bleeding.
The truck driver came over and helped me collect my things and encouraged me to get up off the road. I made it to my feet and realized that my hand was scraped up enough such that holding onto the handlebar would be difficult. I surveyed my bike and it looked pretty good. Handlebars were a little twisted but nothing bad. Front wheel was only 1 or 2 mm out of true, hardly noticeable. But further inspection showed my stem and handlebar were busted. The stem had a very small 3mm crack in it before, and I know it was stupid, but I was still riding it until the new one arrived. Previous rides proved that it was structurally sound for riding – but apparently it wasn’t up to the task of riding over dogs.
I looked up from my bike just in time to see the truck driver peel out and flee the scene. Apparently the dog was not his and he wasn’t going to stick around to fill out obligatory police forms. A nice lady and a teenage girl stopped their car after nearly hitting the dog and came over to see me and called an ambulance. I knew I wasn’t badly hurt, but I also knew I’d be in need of a ride home, so I didn’t protest. We waited for 15 minutes or so and it amazed me that no one was holding on to the dog. After getting hit, he was even more juiced then ever. I tried to hold on to him by the neck (he did not have a collar) but holding on to my bike and the dog and keep the flies out of my wounds was a little too much multitasking. I could see the black mark my tire had left on his fur and he had somehow managed to get some of my blood on him. I tried to find a similar photo on the web to post, but all the yellow lab photos I found look downright sedentary compared to this guy. If he was a human, he’d be “that guy” at the gym. Definitely muscular, and definitely a bit stupid. But it was obvious that even though he did not have a collar, he was well fed by someone. He continued running around as several cars almost joined me to form a nice little queue for the ambulance. But thankfully no one hit the dog, again. The ambulance arrived and just before it reached me, the dog ran out in front of it, nearly causing another mess. The driver blared the horn and maneuvered the ambulance to successfully avoid it.
I was quickly motioned to get into the back of the ambulance and before I knew it, we were on our way. Where? Who knows! The medic checked me out and asked me if I have a passport or insurance card with me. When I said “no” he asked if I had any money. Again, I said “no” and he replied in a thick accent, “Hmm, this is problem”.
I arrived at some hospital after a 15 minute journey and I gathered that they wanted to take x-rays of my legs, arms, wrist, and shoulder. I said “ne, ne… jsem fine” and bent my arms and legs like a full functioning marionette. The doctor seemed to like what he saw but still wanted a x-ray of my wrist. He sat down at a computer and began typing. A very attractive nurse held a squirt bottle asked me something which I didn’t understand then she said something about “alergika” and since there is nothing that has killed me yet, I said, “ne” and she proceed to quirt my leg with the solution. It did not sting as alcohol or benadine would – so I really don’t know what it was. I was really hoping she would look at my hand as I was certain there were stones under the flaps of skin and blood and was quite painful. Unfortunately, the light rinsing with the mystery clear solution was all I got. It was still very dirty. … the hand, the hand… geez, what did you think I meant?
I was then wheeled off to the x-ray room, but was intercepted by 3 police officers armed with a breathalyzer machine. I blew into it twice but they seemed to think something went wrong so they changed the mouthpiece and I blew into it a third time, registering a 0.00% reading.
I did the wrist x-ray which I unsurprisingly passed with flying colors. I was wheeled out into the hallway where my all black bike was on prominent display amongst the all white interior. A forth police officer had arrived and was taking photos of my bike. There was even a little “police evidence” number on the ground next to my bike that read “#1”. I watched them take 20 or so photos at various angles. I couldn’t understand what they were saying but it appeared that they all wanted to lift it up to see how light it was.
I then signed a form that said I have to pay the hospital a little over $200 USD and then after the police finished with their numerous forms and the doctor continued pecking away on the computer, I was told someone would take me home. I got into the “medical van” and managed to survived the bumpy ride back home. The “medical van” was not an ambulance and not really a standard van as the driver was separated from the back (like a limo driver) with only a small window that did not appear to be easily opened. The driver was caughing and spitting terribly during the 30 minute ride and I thought we might have to switch positions if it got much worse.
It was a relief to finally get home so I could take a shower and actually CLEAN and care for my wounds which no one seemed to want to do at the hospital. I checked my email and noticed that Rotor finally contacted me about the stem when I was out riding… “yeah, about that…” 🙂
I began to wonder, “Who’s dog was that? If they find the owner, do I get insurance compensation? Or are all the forms just for pointless documentation?” Just then the phone rang. It was an “Accident Investigator” with the police department. She had very broken english and I tried to understand her….
“You go bike from (Town X) and (Town Y)?”
“Umm, yes, I was in between Town X and Y.”
“No, you bike in Town X or Town Y?”
“It was the road between the two towns.”
“No, you biking… dog.. Town X or Town Y?”
After several minutes of exchanges like the sample above, I finally surmised what she wanted to know…
“Oh, yes I had just passed through Town X and was heading to Town Y”
“I not understanding… You biking… ”
I realized she wanted an X or Y answer without all the confusing English words so I just said,
“Ah, tak le!”
“Yes I was heading south,” wondering why she didn’t just say “which direction” or “north or south” to begin with.
“Ok tank you and I call in week”
“Oh but the dog, did you find the dog?”
“Yes, dog is ok.”
“Ok good, thanks!”
I’m thinking next time I will skip the ambulance all together and take the taxi option – faster, less forms, similar medical attention, and perhaps cheaper fares. The nurse was cute though.
Anyway, time to do some online shopping for new handlebars.