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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I was biking to work in January, and it had just iced over. It was right in front of St. Sylvester's school on Palmer. The bike lane was full of double parked cars as usual, so I signaled early to slowly make my way over to the left turn lane. An SUV came speeding up behind me to get through the green light and sideswept me. I spun out of control, flew off the bike and slammed my knee into the ground. Person drove off and no one offered to help me.

I also had a woman threaten to run myself and my three year old over because I dinged my bell and said, "On your left!" as I passed. She had been parked in the middle of Kedzie Blvd for more than five minutes talking to someone, and I didn't want to wait any longer. I think that might have been her scariest moment when I parked the bike, walked over to her with my u-lock and threatened to bash her head in if she ever deemed it appropriate to say that to a cyclist again.

  I was recently waiting in a pack of 1400 riders for a mass start at a charity ride.  While a friend and I were talking about the craziness of having a mass start for a ride like this, 3 separate people standing in front of us, clipped in to their pedals with one foot while standing--all three lost their balance and fell flat on their butts.  They were only clipping one foot and hadn't even started riding!  I nearly waited until the pack had passed to start.

Marc

I was working as a video delivery messenger and was going down Grand just getting to work.

Underneath Michigan Avenue there was a car at the stop sign. The driver looked right through me and punched it. I was going pretty fast so, between my speed and the cars speed it was a lot of force.

The car t-boned my bike and I decide to hold onto the bike and just lifted my leg above the hood. This was a tall 29" steel road bike. The bike and myself did a somersault and a half across the hood and I landed still on my bike, albeit on my side on the pavement and my leg smashed between the frame and fork. I was a bit stunned but not in too bad of shape. The small crowd that gathered thought I was toast (no helmets back then), and the driver was pretty freaked.

I got up, shook it off and worked that night.

The lessons: Cars can look right at you and not see you. Sometimes it's a good idea to stay with the bike when you know you are going to get hit. The bike will take the impact and there will be less force when you hit pavement (unless you have an aluminum bike!).

Not nearly as bad as some of the ones above...but it was January and dark -  I was biking north on Milwaukee and this big white van was creeping across from West to East waiting for me to get by.  Right as I got past him a truck behind me going in my direction Tboned the van.  I hammered down to try and stay ahead of the wreck, both vehicles spun around and came to a rest.  I made it another block before my legs just stopped.  I leaned over and threw up right there. 

holy balls.

Matt Donohue said:

I was working as a video delivery messenger and was going down Grand just getting to work.

Underneath Michigan Avenue there was a car at the stop sign. The driver looked right through me and punched it. I was going pretty fast so, between my speed and the cars speed it was a lot of force.

The car t-boned my bike and I decide to hold onto the bike and just lifted my leg above the hood. This was a tall 29" steel road bike. The bike and myself did a somersault and a half across the hood and I landed still on my bike, albeit on my side on the pavement and my leg smashed between the frame and fork. I was a bit stunned but not in too bad of shape. The small crowd that gathered thought I was toast (no helmets back then), and the driver was pretty freaked.

I got up, shook it off and worked that night.

The lessons: Cars can look right at you and not see you. Sometimes it's a good idea to stay with the bike when you know you are going to get hit. The bike will take the impact and there will be less force when you hit pavement (unless you have an aluminum bike!).

I've had many really scary bike experiences, but the best one, I think, was on a cycle tour with a college buddy. We were loaded with camping gear, riding from Golden to Estes Park, Colo. The ride took all day; I have no idea how many feet of climbing were involved. It got dark and started to drizzle. No streetlights and our little headlamps were effectively useless.

Then came the screaming, switchback, downhill, 50+ mph rollercoaster ride into Estes Park. If, at any time, one of us had rolled a tire, blew a flat, or even just had a load shift while cornering, that man would have likely slid off the road and into a serious fall. Brake on the straights, off the brakes in the corner, brake again, but it's wet, so brakes aren't braking well, and it's dark. No street lights, minimal road barricades, rain.

An angel, in the form of a car and driver behind us, kept his brights on and never tried to pass. Probably saved our lives. He pulled up on the last straight and told us we had been going well over 50. it is to my everlasting surprise that we survived that descent alive and intact.

That's scary.  Sometimes I envision accidents like that when I'm riding.  Not sure why.

Katie said:

Not nearly as bad as some of the ones above...but it was January and dark -  I was biking north on Milwaukee and this big white van was creeping across from West to East waiting for me to get by.  Right as I got past him a truck behind me going in my direction Tboned the van.  I hammered down to try and stay ahead of the wreck, both vehicles spun around and came to a rest.  I made it another block before my legs just stopped.  I leaned over and threw up right there. 

Wow. I mean, wow!

Frank Brichetto said:

I've had many really scary bike experiences, but the best one, I think, was on a cycle tour with a college buddy. We were loaded with camping gear, riding from Golden to Estes Park, Colo. The ride took all day; I have no idea how many feet of climbing were involved. It got dark and started to drizzle. No streetlights and our little headlamps were effectively useless.

Then came the screaming, switchback, downhill, 50+ mph rollercoaster ride into Estes Park. If, at any time, one of us had rolled a tire, blew a flat, or even just had a load shift while cornering, that man would have likely slid off the road and into a serious fall. Brake on the straights, off the brakes in the corner, brake again, but it's wet, so brakes aren't braking well, and it's dark. No street lights, minimal road barricades, rain.

An angel, in the form of a car and driver behind us, kept his brights on and never tried to pass. Probably saved our lives. He pulled up on the last straight and told us we had been going well over 50. it is to my everlasting surprise that we survived that descent alive and intact.

A few years back, I was riding home to Oak Park on Washington on a beautiful summer day, giving Washington a try as a good route downtown. I met up with an older lady who was doing the ride between Chicago>OP for the first time. I felt a little protective of her, because she was a newbie to riding on the west side. We chatted, decided to ride together, and I let her ride up ahead of me. 

So I'm trundling along Washington enjoying my ride, and I rode right into what might have been a gang action/initiation just west of Western. One of the guys stared me down, I smiled at him, which curdled as soon as another guy took off after me on foot, shouting "Bitch, I'll kill you" over and over (I'm female).  All my adrenaline went to my legs and rode as fast as I could; he was close enough that I could hear him panting behind me. My mind went into overdrive, with thoughts like a) I can't let him grab me b) he might be armed c) please God don't let this guy shoot me in the back while I'm riding, it will ruin biking for me forever. 

He finally gave up after a few blocks, what felt like the longest blocks E V E R. Once I was clear of the craziness, I sprinted up to my companion. She was just far enough ahead to be completely unaware that anything had happened and was happily pedaling west on Washington. I was shaking the whole way back to OP. I never took Washington after, moved onto Augusta and then Lake. Eventually I moved from  OP too, and enjoy more peaceful streets on my commute now. 

I got chased by a dog who still has a lease on for about 1/2 mile on last year's Apple Cider Century.  That was a long 1/2 mile and had a couple of guys riding with me trying to get the dog to stop chasing me.  Luckily he finally stopped, but that was scary.

Have you, perchance seen the other threads up top on the forum? They pertain to similar situations to yours. I'm starting to wonder if trouble for cyclists on the west side is more common than one may think.
 
Trachea said:

A few years back, I was riding home to Oak Park on Washington on a beautiful summer day, giving Washington a try as a good route downtown. I met up with an older lady who was doing the ride between Chicago>OP for the first time. I felt a little protective of her, because she was a newbie to riding on the west side. We chatted, decided to ride together, and I let her ride up ahead of me. 

So I'm trundling along Washington enjoying my ride, and I rode right into what might have been a gang action/initiation just west of Western. One of the guys stared me down, I smiled at him, which curdled as soon as another guy took off after me on foot, shouting "Bitch, I'll kill you" over and over (I'm female).  All my adrenaline went to my legs and rode as fast as I could; he was close enough that I could hear him panting behind me. My mind went into overdrive, with thoughts like a) I can't let him grab me b) he might be armed c) please God don't let this guy shoot me in the back while I'm riding, it will ruin biking for me forever. 

He finally gave up after a few blocks, what felt like the longest blocks E V E R. Once I was clear of the craziness, I sprinted up to my companion. She was just far enough ahead to be completely unaware that anything had happened and was happily pedaling west on Washington. I was shaking the whole way back to OP. I never took Washington after, moved onto Augusta and then Lake. Eventually I moved from  OP too, and enjoy more peaceful streets on my commute now. 

That reminded me of about 5-6 stories.

Briefly this one-

The time I was checking out a loft building on the West Side on my bike (Lake and Sacramento?) with my son and I see two guys get out of the back of van and head into an abandoned lot with some clothing and a can of gas. I decided I didn't want that daily commute...

Trachea said:

A few years back, I was riding home to Oak Park on Washington on a beautiful summer day, giving Washington a try as a good route downtown. I met up with an older lady who was doing the ride between Chicago>OP for the first time. I felt a little protective of her, because she was a newbie to riding on the west side. We chatted, decided to ride together, and I let her ride up ahead of me. 

So I'm trundling along Washington enjoying my ride, and I rode right into what might have been a gang action/initiation just west of Western. One of the guys stared me down, I smiled at him, which curdled as soon as another guy took off after me on foot, shouting "Bitch, I'll kill you" over and over (I'm female).  All my adrenaline went to my legs and rode as fast as I could; he was close enough that I could hear him panting behind me. My mind went into overdrive, with thoughts like a) I can't let him grab me b) he might be armed c) please God don't let this guy shoot me in the back while I'm riding, it will ruin biking for me forever. 

He finally gave up after a few blocks, what felt like the longest blocks E V E R. Once I was clear of the craziness, I sprinted up to my companion. She was just far enough ahead to be completely unaware that anything had happened and was happily pedaling west on Washington. I was shaking the whole way back to OP. I never took Washington after, moved onto Augusta and then Lake. Eventually I moved from  OP too, and enjoy more peaceful streets on my commute now. 

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