Rolling Along: What do you say? Part II

I’m not most talkative of sorts and definitely lean more toward taciturn than glib, whether on two wheels or terra firma.

It’s primarily because I bite my own tongue, but two recent events, coincidentally just a couple of blocks but several weeks apart, while I was riding tied it. My tongue, that is.

The first, which I blogged about last week, was a driver who cut me off, then apologized.

Close to two weeks ago, a different kind of — and considerably more painful — run-in left me at a loss for words.

I was riding to work, relishing a decent tailwind when I saw a boy, I’d say a pre-teen, maybe 10 or 11, on a bike riding my way. He smiled and said hello … but failed to mention he had a buddy several yards back, also on a bike, trying to catch up. He also failed to mention his buddy was riding on a cross street, which was partly obscured by plant life and a parked car or two. And that his buddy was in such a hurry to catch up, he was in no mood to stop before riding right out in front of me.

It’s funny how many thoughts can go through even the emptiest of heads in just a split second. I tried to shout a warning (or at least give the kid an earful), and dozens of salutations pinballed through my head. Most were anatomical structures, mixed in with a couple of colorful gerunds and maybe even a spiritual reference or two, but though I had no time to maneuver, I had time enough to dismiss all the possibilities lest I offend the youngster with a “bad word” or 50.

All I managed was a weak, “Dude …” before T-boning the lad.

I was tooling along close to 20 mph; said ‘Dude’ was probably a little slower. I managed to swerve a bit — I did what I could to keep from hammering him, at my expense — and hit him square on his rear wheel. My bike climbed his back wheel, then slammed to the ground with me on it.

Dude appeared unscathed as I languished in the middle of the street trying to take stock of my aches and pains. The kid came close and asked, “Are you OK? Are you OK? AreyouOKAreyouOKAreyouOKAreyouOK?” over and over before I responded, “Just give me a minute, OK?”

Then he gathered his bike and started to ride off.

Here comes the tongue-tied part: As much as I wanted to tear into him or, at the very least, turn the little incident into a teaching moment, the best I could manage — after I propped myself up — was, “Dude, you gotta watch” to his departing form.

I have no idea what it is about bike-on-bike collisions turns me into a BroDude.

I gathered my bike and the various bits that had come off it, glanced at my abrasions and soon-to-be-swelling body bits … and found my voice.

I rode off in the direction the Dude disappeared and found him half a block away. A woman was walking toward him.

“Are you his mom?” I asked.

Hesitation, then, “Yes.”

“Did you see what happened?”

“I heard it.”

“Well, you need to talk to him.”

“I just talked to him about it.”

“If I had been driving a car, he’d be dead.”


“I mean it. Dead. If I had been a car hitting him as hard as I did, he wouldn’t have stood a chance. Dead.”

“I know. Sorry. Are you OK?”

“I hurt. But I’m more worried about him.”


“Yeah, well, explain it to him. Make sure he understands.”

And I rode off.

I ended up with a nicely skinned (and swollen, tender) elbow, road rash on a hip and more scratches on my right foot. My foot also swelled and, that night, became so sore I couldn’t walk on it. Fortunately, ice and Vitamin I — Ibuprofen — fixed that. The scrapes are mending, too.

As bad as it hurt, I consider myself lucky it wasn’t worse.

For both of us.

Tagged: bike commuting, bike, bicycle, bicycle commuting


RETICENT_IRREVERENT 5 years, 11 months ago

What do you say?

Simple... "I was riding faster than my sight line allowed".

parrothead8 5 years, 11 months ago

Stop typing. You're going faster than your common sense line will allow.

lawrencian 5 years, 11 months ago

That is unnecessarily harsh towards Mr. Hartsock, don't you think? That is certainly not what you would expect someone who was driving a car to have said if a kid on a bike came out of nowhere into your path without looking or slowing down. Whether in a car or on a bike (I use both!), it is so important to watch out, but you don't have any control over the other people who aren't doing the same!

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 11 months ago

The boy on the bike didn't have a clear sight line either. In the summer there will be a lot of children out on bikes and skateboards. Adults should be aware of this and watch out for the young ones.
Also, his mother should have had more to say or we can be hopeful that she talked to her son about being careful at intersections so matter what the situation is. I think we should cut the lad a little slack though.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 11 months ago

You were a lot more understanding about that then I would have been.

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