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Feeling the Need for Speed; Cycling on the Open Road

August 2019

I love to go fast.  I can relax and have a good time with the best of them; that’s a part of riding daily as I do, but when we’re cruising as a group, north of 22-mph, that’s when I’m having the most fun….

A cyclist was hit last week, only a mile-and-a-half from my house.  It was a hit-and-run.  From what I’ve pieced together from several different accounts, it sounds like the bike rider may have been riding on the wrong side of the road from an account of a neighbor who passed him just a minute before he was hit.  He wasn’t wearing a helmet.  The driver of a large, black RAM pickup didn’t give him enough room and hit him in the head with his mirror and knocked the rider into the ditch while knocking the mirror off his truck.

He then backed into someone’s driveway and took off, leaving the leisure rider in the ditch, bleeding from the head, ears and nose, to die.

From there, without giving away too much, the police ended up with the motorist’s plate number due to a stroke of sheer luck.  When the police visited the motorist’s home with the truck’s mirror and confronted him, the motorist lied and said he’d sold the truck more than a year back, and he’d forgotten the name of the person he sold it to.  The police asked to check his pole barn before they left, and he stated, “Not without a warrant”.  The police asked the neighbor if they could walk his property line to have a look.  They found the truck parked behind the pole barn and arrested the man.

The bike rider, amazingly, is recovering.  From what I’ve heard, he’s about 8 out of 10 and improving.

Folks, that shit shook me up pretty bad.  I’ve recently wondered whether I might want to switch to gravel riding to get out of most of the traffic.  On the one hand, I’m not dumb enough to ride on the wrong side of the road.  And I don’t leave home without my helmet… On the other, the motorist just left the guy in the ditch to die.  How f***ing depraved do you have to be to smoke a person in the head and drive away?!  F***!  Of course, all things being equal, if I was hit on a back, dirt road, I’d never be found (actually, I would.  I use a Garmin with crash detection and notification).

In the end, though, in all seriousness, I really do live on the edge of cycling heaven.  We have hundreds of miles of paved roads with light traffic on which to ride, and now that I’ve figured out how to effectively avoid traffic using my radar… well, I feel a lot safer, anyway.  

Still, I pulled the gravel bike out of the garage the other day and knocked the cobwebs off.  I lubed up the chain a bit and filled the tires to 50 psi (they were down to 10) and rode the back roads with Chuck on Friday and my wife yesterday.  Both days were slow.  Both days a little boring.  Oh, but it was nice to get out of the traffic for a minute.

I just might stick to gravel on the solo rides for a while.  Until I can get my head right.

Still though, it all comes down to the speed.  I just love the speed.  And the toys.  Mostly the speed, though.  Going fast makes me smile.



  1. Sheree says:

    That’s seriously scary. Please take care Jim.

  2. How frightening. So glad they caught the guy and arrested him. Very messed up that he would leave a person in a ditch to die. The cyclist is lucky to have survived 🙏🏼

  3. Sandra says:

    I am so sorry this happened for so many reasons. I totally get it though. In one year in my home town, we had six or Severn hit by drivers, most of them were hit and run. Three died. One little boy was in the hospital for months. They found one driver (followed home by the teacher who saw the crash)—bike still lodged under his truck. He was drunk. At 715am going through a school zone right in front of the school. Local physician and CEO of Cedars Home for Children hit and run. He nearly died. Another respected surgeon did die.

    I bought a gravel bike as soon as I could and have never returned for he road. I train on my smart trainer and gravel. I prefer nature and trees and seeing foxes and turkeys and deer (although I worry about getting clobbered by one) and even saw and followed a huge coyote one morning.

    And then the race in Ohio.

    Our local triathlon/endurance company owner (owner by an Ironman) told me he never trains on the road anymore. Only gravel. Gravel makes you a tougher cyclists—roadies and especially Triathletes don’t get the resistance training or technical training like those who ride gravel.

    And now with incident detection, why not? Hubby and I races and hit over 22mph on the gravel rails to trails last weekend. (I beat him—granted his tires are a bit thicker than mine, but I’m also better conditioned)

    Either way. Maybe it’s okay to be safe a while. Reminders of our humanity and the terminal nature of our lives is an excellent reminder that we are not indestructible. I’m so glad the rider survived. And that they caught that lying sack of shit. :-0

  4. Shocking. How can people just smash into a fellow human and then just leave them to die on the side of the road? It really does question your faith in humanity. Stay safe out there, brother.

    I don’t get the appeal of gravel riding. To me it’s the worst of both worlds; way slower than the road and nowhere near as exciting as mtb trails. I just find it, well, slow and a bit uninspiring.

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