So, I’ve been racing my bike longer than some of you have been alive, and I’ve been in more near death situations than I could ever talk about. I thought I’d seen it all on the roads. I was wrong.
Today on the way home from an hour ride in a park I often train in I stopped at a red light in the left hand turn lane one block from my house. I was waiting to turn left at this intersection I’ve stopped at thousands of times. I stopped just ahead of the car which was waiting to turn left as well so they would see me. Again, our light was red and I was waiting just inside the cross-walk. That’s where I always stop.
I was watching the cross traffic go by, thinking of something else, when I looked forward and what would be just a little to my right at another car that was already in the middle of the intersection waiting for the cross traffic to clear so she could turn left, (our lane was North/South, this girl’s lane was East/West – you get it.)
Anyway, the girl was looking down texting and I thought the same thing I always think when I see that, “*#%$*#. She is going to kill someone.”
So I un-clipped, rolled my bike back about 5 feet, (I don’t know why) and just stood there waiting for my red light to turn green, I had one hand on the bars and the other hand at my side. Now I’m back almost to the first limit line of my crosswalk.
Just then the girl looks up from her texting and decides she’s turning left. Another car, (A big four door Mercedes) is coming toward her in the other lane and is going WAY to fast, (close to 50mph I guess) she broad-sides it and knocks it right at me with a violence that can’t be described unless you’ve seen a bad car accident close up. The car slides by me in one of those blink-of-an-eye-slow-motion moments and comes so close to me it hits my front tire, (yes the tire, not even the rim) slams the wheel to the right and knocks the bars out of my hand and they hit my top tube from turning too far. I don’t even fall down. Now I’m just standing there with nothing but my D#%* in my hand basically. But I’m unscratched and alive.
If I wouldn’t have backed up, I would have been a bug on the Mercedes windshield. And I was just waiting in the crosswalk!
The moral of the story and the reason I’m telling all of you, is that if you stop at an intersection, pay attention, and back up at least behind the limit line of the crosswalk. It might save your life.
By Jamie Paolinetti
Writer/Director – “The Hard Road” & “PRO” the movie.
2010 Masters National Champion
Multiple Time California State Criterium Champion