Friday, August 12, 2011

Close Encounters

The Archangel Raphael is the patron saint of both healing and travel.  His intercession is one that I ask for from time to time.  I think he has been there for me a few times.

Lately I have been thinking about near death/hurt collisions during Ragbrai.  I've experienced a few.  Rather not experience anymore but on the road incidents happen.  I have seen almost everything during 'Brai, from ghettoblasters falling off the back of tandem sending duracels my way 5 feet off the ground to people drafting and taking 5 riders down to 3 separate water bottles falling off bikes in front of me within a 2 minute period.  I get pissy when that happens.  No vehicle collisions. 

My first near collision was my own fault.  Day 3 of my first 'Bria.  Headphones on and head down staring at the wheel.  Somewhere near Amana, 1991, road sparsely populated.  Looked up.  Plenty of room.  Stare at wheel and computer.  Look up.  Still safe.  Stare at front wheel again.  Near the end of the day when things get quiet.  Tired from drinking til 3am and getting up at 5am.  Youth.

Look up again.  This time I am inches from the bike in front of me.  ALARM!!!!!!  My brain took a dump.  First, it signaled the adrenal gland to release everything.  This was to shock me into never ever do this again.  Next it sent the signal to my body to shift weight and have the right arm push the handlebars forward and the left to pull the bars back in a very hard left swerve.

The biker in front of me smiled.  A woman with a very beautiful smile.  I do not remember seeing anyone else.  My only thought was that she was totally oblivious to my stupidity.  I wonder if I had a frightened look on my face and if she saw it.  No real time for facial expressions.  All my efforts were into preventing impact and keeping myself from shitting my pants.

Lesson learned.

A few years later we were outside of Fort Dodge.  The Register told us that we would be going through a park that had a 40 mph downhill.  I was looking forward to this as I was on my fastest bike and liked to obtain new high speeds.  This may have been Brushy Creek State Park. 

When the hill arrived I was ready.  Only two bikes in front of me, both in the right lane.  Left lane empty.  Nobody overtaking me from behind I made my move.  Work through the gears with my Ergo shifters.  At 45 mph I spun out, flattened my back and stretched my back.  Looked ahead, both bikes were exactly in the same spot.  Kiss the stem and tuck in.  Scott Drop In bars give additional aerodynamic position and I was using it. 

I took my eye off the bikes in front feeling safe in the left lane.  Then I looked up once again.  The fuckers moved into my lane!  Well one bike did and I was right up his ass.

I was puzzled by my first reaction.  My mouth was salivating from the impending concrete that I was surely to be eating in a second.  But I did a favorite manuever.  Full front brake, shift weight and lean, release brake.  It worked and the computer said that I was going 41 mph. 

My next thought was that everyone behind me must think that I am the most dangerous rider on the road.  Probably was but I was still over 40 and getting the fook outta Dodge.

Raphael, thank you but give me bit of a warning.  My heart needs to stay inside my rib cage, not out.

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