So with my new commute I am in moderate to heavy traffic nearly all the time. Compared to my old one which was light to moderate most of the time I find myself dueling with cars more often.
Basically I find myself doing things on the road often that I would consider questionable… just always after the fact.
Last year I wrote a guest blog on Ride Apart about this very topic. How easy it is to become comfortable with every day danger, and sometimes how that be to our detriment. If you haven’t read it you might want to check it out.
Then it all came to a head when I had a near miss just a few days ago. This definitely made me reflective.
Just to be clear that regardless of how it might read below, I realize that it was completely my own fault.
I had just gotten on the freeway and was trying to get into the carpool lane. I was riding at the flow of traffic, but very close to the SUV in front of me. As it turns out I was too close. I was watching my mirror looking for a gap to get into the next lane, but sadly my mirror was slightly off so I had a pretty large blind spot. So I had to make a big check to make sure no one was next to me. When I looked back in front of me I see that the SUV that I was following has slammed on their brakes and I’m headed right for their left rear bumper. I did not think I had time to break so I dodge toward the carpool lane. Which had room for me since I had checked. (and something I was planing on doing, but with a lot less urgency) However, I was too close and did not quite make it. I clipped the rear of the SUV with my arm and my mirror at the end of my handle bar. Hard enough to throw me a bit out of control, and at 40-50 mph I was pretty freaked out. I was also now headed toward the center divide.
It is amazing how much goes through your head in just a few seconds.
I saw something fly up and away when I hit the SUV, I was worried I hurt their car. My arm hurt, and I was heading toward the barrier. I imediately went into let’s not crash if we can avoid it mode. I countersteered and swerved back in to the middle of my lane.
Heart pounding and arm smarting I imediately began to think about pulling onto the shoulder so I could talk to the driver. Still very freaked out. I start changing lanes, but the shoulders are nearly non existent on this part of the freeway. I looked all over to see if I could spot the SUV, but with the heavy traffic I had no idea where he was. I rode in the slow lane as slowly as I could for a while hoping (sort of) to see someone pull up behind me waving franticly, but this did not happen.
My exit was coming up so I get off there hoping that maybe through all of that the other driver might be able to see me do this and follow. Hopefully not thinking I ditched him on purpose. Once of the freeway, I wait for several minutes calming myself and wondering if there is anyway to find the driver since this wasn’t working. Straightening out my mirror on the end of my bar and find that the glass has been knocked out. So that was what I saw fly off when I hit the car.
I am lucky to have managed that bit of idiocy without crashing. I’m upset with myself for even putting myself in that position.
You need to be comfortable riding, but comfort and confidence can get you into situations that you shouldn’t be in. I still have to ride smart. My mantra right now, is slow down and be more patient.