The Chainlink

The weekend after Nixon was reelected, i decided it would be a good idea to ride out to DeKalb to console a friend at Northern. At about 3:30 that Saturday AM, i left from Harlem/Touhy aboard my trusty LaPierre, in my bluejeans and sweatshirt with an armband light, a nylon windbreaker in my seatpack, and a Tribune roadmap. As i recall, it was a mild November up till then, although it was drizzling a bit after some thunderstorms that previous evening.

Somewhere around Schaumburg, the rain really kicked in. The temp slid into the upper 40s. The jacket was useless. The roads -many were still gravel then - were flooded out here and there. By dawn, somewhere outside of South Elgin i believe, hypothermia began to set in.

Now here i was on the roadside in Bum F*** Kane county. There was NOTHING but cornfields out there at the time, and i was shivering uncontrolably. i had just enough presence of mind to stick my thumb out and some guardian angel crammed me and my bike into his VW beatle. He must've thought i was a junkie the way i was shivering. He took me all the way to my friend's dorm (West Neptune Hall.) It took another 3-4 hours to stop shivering.

Could've died out there that day...

Scarier than any bike/car encouter i've had before or since.

Your horror story?

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once i somehow wound up way too drunk to ride, 30 miles from home in unfamiliar surroundings, biking into every 3rd parked car i saw. found a dumpster, slept it off. rode 30 miles home with a throbbing headache.

pretty scary?
Scarriest moment ever was when i was a kid.

My buddy Brady and I were probably about 12 and we were playing frisbee from his yard to the yard across the street where the neighbors were cool. Up until this pending incident, we'd wait for infrequent cars to pass and continue with the game once they did, but just this one time, Brady threw it as this big ugly car (in my mind I swear it is a Monte Carlo but I don't have a clear memory of the car...fits though) came down the street. It went in the passenger window as the guy was driving by and hit him in the head.

The guy slammed on his brakes and we took off running. I actually ran past the back of the guy's car into Brady's yard where my bike was on his yard figuring I could bike faster than i could run...so i got on and started hauling. The dude who had gotten out of his car to chase us, got back in his car...somehow he completely forgot about Brady, who threw the stupid frisbee into his stupid car....which i can see as i look behind me, and I get really scared. I turned left off of Lynton onto Norwood and was hauling my then-skinny ass as best i could and this dude peels out and is gunning his engine as he screeches through the turn headed as fast as he could towards me.

I remember thinking for sure he was going to kill me and I jumped the curb, and nearly biffed it into a tree, and then started riding on the sidewalk thinking he would never get over that way. He is riding right along side me yelling at me and i thought i was just going to die of freight. I turned into a driveway and raced into someone's backyard, dumped my bike in their yard and hopped the fence and kept running between yards and over fences. I never saw the guy again.

When I went back to get my bike in that yard, and of course it was gone.

I told my parents it was stolen at the swimming pool, and was forced to file a false police report to keep them from finding out the awful, embarassing and scary truth.

These days, it's just motorists trying to kill me for more generalized reasons it seems as I haven't picked up a frisbee in years.
9am, Aug. 6, 2007. Kelsey Rd in Lake Barrington, IL. Riding on the right of the fog line on a 2 foot wide shoulder on a fully loaded bike. Hit from behind by a car traveling at 45mph. I remember thinking, a)will I ever hit the ground and, b)glad I have my helmet on. According to witnesses, (I never saw a thing), I went across the hood and over the roof of the car before landing on my back on the road. I bounced a few times and ending up sliding across the pavement and through the gravel shoulder on my knees and elbows.
I stopped moving and my brain rebooted. There was no pain, at first. I heard car doors slam and running feet coming towards me. The first person to reach me was a nurse on her way to work at Good Shepard Hospital. She took charge of the scene and was shouting orders like a drill sgt. while I was still out of it. When things became less scrambled I looked at her and thought, 'Jeez, I got blood on her blouse'.
I was fitted with a cervical collar and placed on a backboard. While I was being loaded into an ambulance, I saw my bike and wondered why I am I not hurting more. One of the EMTs asked what my pain level was on a scale of 1 to 10 and I said something like 2 or 3. She said that I was probably in shock because my injuries looked like at least 8.5. I was given something in the ambulance that made me slightly loopy and someone again asked me how I felt and I said "The flight was pretty good but the landing sure sucked."(One of the EMTs repeated it to my wife and she told me I said that).
The accident happened three miles from Good Shepard so it was a very short ride but I don't remember any of it. To shorten this, I was in the Good Shepard Trauma Center for eight hours and $31,000. I underwent two MRIs, was X-Rayed from the top of my head to my toes, found out that I have very strong bones(nothing broken), got 21 stitches(11 in my rt knee and 10 in my rt forearm) and the thing that hurt the most was getting a novacaine shot in the little finger of my left hand to remove a hunk of gravel that was imbedded beneath my finger nail. I hurled on that one.
I left the ER with my elbows and knees tightly bandaged, my right leg in an immobilizer so I wouldn't pull any stitches, road rash, a pain level of 9+, the realization that my bike trip to Traverse City had ended abruptly and I would be spending my entire vacation + at home.
I was back riding 6 weeks later but I'm still not where I was when I clobbered. I find myself not wanting to ride routes that I used to because there is too much traffic or the road is too narrow. I'm more vocal about cars coming too close to me and I'm more than willing to challenge a driver when they want to argue. In the past I would have shook it off.
That's my scary story. Took almost 50 years of riding to have that happen.
Back in San Francisco I used to ride my bike down one of the hilly thoroughfares to work. There's a stretch of breaks in this one hill that makes it pretty easy to take flight. So as usual I was flying down the hill amongst all the traffic and I get some lift off from one of the hills. As I land my back tire decides to get punctured by a 2" screw, instant flat. So now I'm barrelling down the hill, totally swerving, thinking I'm gonna die. Luckily there was green light at the end and I was able to ride it out, stopping was not working. So I made it out alive. The next week I was doored on the same street, but I got $800 bucks from their insurance for a tune up and realignment. Ch-ching! Began my thoughts of taking some stuntman classes and getting doored for a living.
h3 said:

Ever see the Sixth Sense Mike? That movie got under my skin . . .I found my self wondering after near-misses whether they were really misses. Your story is pretty amazing.
$31,000 seems like a lot to me for one day in the hospital. I had a bad one in '01 that involved 3 hospitals and neck surgery, and the total was around 60k.


I went back and checked my numbers and, yes, I erred in the cost. 31K was the entire loss(bike, camping gear, time off work, lost vacation, etc.). The eight hours at the ER was 18k. Still, a princely sum because an idiot wasn't paying attention.
Hey Mike, any compensation at all from the driver who clobbered you?

Mike Bullis said:
h3 said:

Ever see the Sixth Sense Mike? That movie got under my skin . . .I found my self wondering after near-misses whether they were really misses. Your story is pretty amazing.
$31,000 seems like a lot to me for one day in the hospital. I had a bad one in '01 that involved 3 hospitals and neck surgery, and the total was around 60k.


I went back and checked my numbers and, yes, I erred in the cost. 31K was the entire loss(bike, camping gear, time off work, lost vacation, etc.). The eight hours at the ER was 18k. Still, a princely sum because an idiot wasn't paying attention.
mike w. said:
Hey Mike, any compensation at all from the driver who clobbered you?

Mike Bullis said:

h3 said:

Ever see the Sixth Sense Mike? That movie got under my skin . . .I found my self wondering after near-misses whether they were really misses. Your story is pretty amazing.
$31,000 seems like a lot to me for one day in the hospital. I had a bad one in '01 that involved 3 hospitals and neck surgery, and the total was around 60k.


I went back and checked my numbers and, yes, I erred in the cost. 31K was the entire loss(bike, camping gear, time off work, lost vacation, etc.). The eight hours at the ER was 18k. Still, a princely sum because an idiot wasn't paying attention.

Because my injuries weren't as bad as they could have been, all I wanted was my bike replaced and my medical bills taken care of. The guys insurance company caved when he failed to show for his court date and it was learned that he skipped the country, so I got enough to get a Rivendell Bleriot and a new roof on my house.
my scariest moments on bicycle all came as an afterthought.
long after my accidents, I suddenly realized that I couldn't have dies if I didn't jump onto the truck grill, I couldn't have died if I didn't do an exactly straight and complete 360 with my bike, I could've died if I had moved two inches more into the traffic and fallen under the van instead of on the road after it passed while I skimmed along the side of it, I could've died if I hadn't worn a helmet and remembered to roll my head under when I 180d over my handlebars.
At least he HAD insurance and presumably a licence!

Yeow.


>>Because my injuries weren't as bad as they could have been, all I wanted was my bike replaced and my medical bills taken care of. The guys insurance company caved when he failed to show for his court date and it was learned that he skipped the country, so I got enough to get a Rivendell Bleriot and a new roof on my house.
Ah, yes... that cold feeling of memory that hits just before you go to sleep at night!

Two years later i sometimes still flash back on the sight of the world going sideways and the sharp CRACK and SLAP of the side of my head hitting the concrete. Another helmet trashed. 13 stitches but no concussion, just the occasional nightmare.


jillnerkowski said:
my scariest moments on bicycle all came as an afterthought.
long after my accidents, I suddenly realized that I couldn't have dies if I didn't jump onto the truck grill, I couldn't have died if I didn't do an exactly straight and complete 360 with my bike, I could've died if I had moved two inches more into the traffic and fallen under the van instead of on the road after it passed while I skimmed along the side of it, I could've died if I hadn't worn a helmet and remembered to roll my head under when I 180d over my handlebars.
I'd say getting doored last month was pretty frightening.

Although I had a drunk cubs fan slam into me and throw me off my bike into two lanes of traffic.
Hooo...
That reminds me of something i witnessed years ago... The old Illinois Cycling Association used to do early spring training races out in Will county. The course was a loop of frontage road along i-55 in Bolingbrook back when there was nothing out there but soybean fields and Olde Chicago Mall. One day there was an Apocalyptic wind from the ENE that blew the two guys in the front clean off their bikes as we were snaking up the overpass ramp! The pack barely made headway upwind and screamed on the backstretch.

Those guys looked like they'd get blown clear to the interstate just like old dried leaves.
BK said:
A conversation I had on the North Center tour today reminded me of mine. On a cold and windy day on the Andersonville/Uptown tour this winter, I (we) encountered a viscous wind tunnel blasting between buildings on Marine Drive. One second you're riding along like any other day and the next you are getting Pearl Harbored by a biblical wind gust. I don't really know where the Bible references heavy winds, but if it did, it would have been like what I am describing. It first blew me in to traffic and then completely over. It is the first time I've ever been helpless on a bike. Thank God there were no cars coming from behind because the whole group may have been in trouble. It was brief, but scary. I'm plenty used to being helpless in most aspects of my life, but not on the bicycle.

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