It has been several months since my 500-mile RAGBRAI race across Iowa. I wrote half-dozen articles last summer about preparing for and the execution of this endurance event. The article that I received the most responses from was the one recounting the Rotweiler's attack during a fateful workout. However, I haven't written about a more traumatic event until now. Six weeks prior to the big race, a white Toyota traveling thirty-miles per hour took my bike and me on; we lost. I had planned a long distance ride to top off my conditioning program getting ready for RAGBRAI. The route was long and hilly around the southern coast of Lake Michigan. After sweating loads of water and enduring some pain, I started heading home feeling that I was in my conditioning zone and just about ready for the ride across Iowa.
Conditioning is done on highways, and I am always cautious especially in traffic. I was on a major east/west highway not far from completing the route. I signaled my intent to change lanes with plenty of time, but an old guy (older than me) in a white Toyota side-swiped me sending me airborne into the lane next to me. Fortunately for me, the car further behind both the Toyota and me was more awake than the first motorist was. As I picked myself up, I quickly checked whether all my body was still attached, not broken, and wasn't bleeding profusely. When I got to the safety of the sidewalk, I realized that I was going to live, but my bike wasn't.
In the aftermath of the accident, I reflected upon what I had learned from my most recent brush with death. I learned that my homeowners insurance covered the lost of the bike. I also learned that I had to be even more careful and not assume that others were always vigilant. The accident made me more sensitive to the fragility of life and just how quickly things can happen. While driving my bent-up bike back to bury it at my dealer's shop, I noticed that I was gun-shy of traffic. It took me several days before my anxiety about driving my care in traffic abated. It took me several weeks to get a replacement bike and by that time, I had lost that heightened anxiety about being on the road again.
However, what I have noticed as time has gone by is that this entire traumatic experience is now remembered with laughter. Time has a way of glossing over pain and hurt. With time to reflect upon an event, we can even occasionally laugh at it. The Rotweiler incident is a source of a lot of jokes among family and friends. They have gotten a lot of mileage out of my nearly losing my face to an irate dog. It is even funny to me. When they read about the car incident, they too will laugh about it-in time.
You too can vicariously learn from both my near-death experiences even if you don't have a brush with death with a Rotweiler or Toyota.
This article will appear in the Dixon Telegraph on 2/1/01.