Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Alex is the third of my Serottas. She's a cross bike that Serotta built during one of their semi-custom bouts when you could choose the seat tube length and the top-tube length and they picked everything else. She has a matte finish and red stickers. Ultegra shifter/brake levers, Race Face Cranks, XTR Derailleurs and Red King hubs were the initial partset. Alex and I share one very painful memory that makes us comrades. It was on Alex that I suffered my most serious injury. I was living in Portland. I commuted to and from work on Alex nearly every day. At the time, I was living with B and Coxey while each of our wives stayed back in Utah to work. Health insurance was tough to come by and not something you gave up when your wife was pregnant. I was headed home from work to go on a ride with B and a couple of guys from work. I was within a few blocks when I came to an intersection that had cars backed up for blocks. It was my intent to take the bike lane to the intersection and then cross at the cross walk as a pedestrian. It was a trick I'd learned in a pamphlet from a 'bike attorney' that all the bike shops gave out. I should have taken my chances on the bike. As I neared the intersection, the light turned green. I was already committed to my plan and there was no way I was going to safely navigate three lanes of traffice to be able to make use of the turn lane, so I continued down the bike lane. I large white box delivery truck was stopped. It didn't seem too odd since trucks like that are almost always slow to get moving. As I passed the truck (while still riding in the bike lane with a green light) I realized the truck had stopped to let a pickup come across double-double yellow lines to enter the wrong way into a parking lot. I grabbed two fistfuls of brakes and threw the bike hard to avoid the truck. No luck. The old lady driving had to slow down in order to drive around the barriers intended to keep people from driving into the parking lot in the manner she was entering. The impact was incredible. I couldn't believe I could cause so much noise. The sound of my bike and then my legs hitting the bed of her truck. The shattering of glass as I put my head, arms, and half of my torso through the window in her camper shell. As I hit the ground, I laid there for a while to assess the damage. My mouth immediately felt like I'd had all of my front teeth knocked out and that they'd left the hard-way through my lower lip. I could feel my extremities. At first, it felt like the bladder in my camelback had burst from the impact. I sat up to see if I could assess the damage to my poor bike. It was lying several feet away, and I couldn't tell the extent of the damage. Then I looked to see that what I thought was water was in fact blood from massive damage to my left arm. I knew then I was going to the ER, so I laid back down and started to feel around in my bag for my cell phone. I had to let B know that I wasn't going to be making the ride. An off-duty EMT was there before I could find the phone. He immobilized me and wouldn't listen to my requests to get my phone. I even explained as rationally as I could that all he had to do was hold down number 4 and it would dial him automatically. Then I he could hold the phone up to my mouth and I could explain the situation. Meanwhile, back at the apartment B and the other joked about what was taking me so long. B even joked that maybe I got hit by a car. Moments later a large engine revved. The joke was going so well that they joked that maybe it was the truck that hit me. Moments later, (I'm told) knock came at the door and a fireman handed B my bike and told him that I had in fact been involved in a serious accident and that I was on my way to OHSU Medical Center. You see, the fire department arrived in short order. They quickly secured me to a backboard. As they were strapping me down, I asked the fire fighter nearest me - "Tell me honestly, how many teeth did I lose?" He responded, "Let's see." I opened up my mouth to show him. "Nah, you're still pretty. You didn't lose any" he answered back. I then pleaded with him to take care of Alex. I made him promise. I made him give me his name. He came through. I didn't do any more road riding for the rest of that year, the best I can remember. The fork was bent, the front wheel trashed, headset, shifters, bar - the whole front end was toast. But the frame was still straight. So I rebuilt her with new parts and she soldiers on. Several years and four 'cross seasons later and Alex is still going. Surviving the 'cross campaigns for that long would be enough to establish comradry, but surviving a car crash puts Alex in another league of tough.