Friday, May 22, 2009

The Red Band

If you read my blog from Wednesday, I’d like to know how you did that. There weren’t any words, so there was nothing to “read.”

But, if you perused my blog from Wednesday (self-satisfied smirk on my face here – yes, I know: It’s not my best look), you may be wondering about the red thing wrapped around my vestigial right biceps in the top picture. That was supposed to be an armband, although it was really a red pocket silk.

Anybody else out there old enough to remember when pocket silks made a brief comeback in the late 80s? Wasn’t that fun?! Ranked right up there with socks with weird designs. We were all trying to spice up the gray pin-stripe uniform in those days.

But, I digress … which should come as no surprise.

At Wednesday’s Ride of Silence, we were supposed to wear armbands: Black to honor cyclists who had been killed in automobile accidents, or Red if you had been killed in an automobile accident yourself.

What? Oh, sorry. Red if you had been hit by an automobile yourself. That makes more sense.

RandoBoy Got Run Over By a Reindeer

So, when was I hit by a car? Well, it was back when I was 14 years old, just before the Early Apoplectic Period. And, to be fair, I did hit the car first.

As a youth, I loved to ride my bicycle everywhere. So, naturally, I was one of those geeky kids that rode his bicycle to school any time the weather was halfway decent. This is, of course, in stark contrast to my life now, when I am one of those geeky adults that rides his bicycle to work even when the weather totally sucks.

It was fall, and the weather was great. I had ridden to school that morning, doing the gentle one-mile climb out of my neighborhood, looking forward to the return trip that afternoon. What 14-year-old boy does not love a long downhill on a bike?

As I started into the neighborhood that afternoon, a telephone company van passed me. I was just getting up to speed, spinning fast, but he was easily doing over 25 mph and I figured he would get out of the way. He disappeared before I started over the steepest part of the descent – a mild right turn where some high-tension wires ran through the neighborhood – so I kicked the speed up a little more.

I was probably doing about 35 mph when I got around the turn and saw the van stopped in the intersection about 200 yards ahead of me. He had not turned on his turn signal, so I assumed that he was turning right. I moved to the left.

He turned left.

I hit the brakes and turned more left, going up into the yard of the house there, hoping that he would make his turn slowly or I could scrub the rest of my speed.

He picked up speed. I didn't scrub.


The bike smacked into the driver’s side door, and my head bounced off his window. I flew over the hood, rolling on the pavement in front of him. He hit the brakes and my bike went under his wheels. I remember getting to my feet as soon as I stopped rolling, thinking he might still be coming. I don’t know if that kept me from getting squished or not.

Once he stopped, the driver jumped out and asked if I was okay. He led me over to the curb and made me sit down, and one of the neighbors on that street came out, followed by all of the neighbors on the street. It was a block party!

Somebody called an ambulance, and somebody else called my house. My grandmother was staying with us, since my parents were out of town, and she soon came by. I kept telling people not to call her, that I was fine, but I really didn't want to scare her.

They took me to the hospital and X-rayed everything. Oddly enough, nothing was broken. I had a few scrapes and a big knot on my head. For some reason, my legs swelled up.

Considering the fact that I was not wearing a helmet, I was pretty lucky. Of course, this was 1974 and the bicycle helmet had probably not been invented then, but that would not have been much solace to my parents if I had been killed.

What could I have done differently? Not much, really. Maybe hit the brakes a little earlier, or figured that the telephone repair guy might not know the neighborhood and could get confused up ahead. Ultimately, although we cyclists should have the same rights as automobiles, we lack the protection of that steel cocoon. We have to be smarter – and sometimes a little more nimble – than cars are.

And having a hard head doesn't hurt, either.


  1. I can tell by your style that you must have some writing expearance in your background.... were you perhaps with an advertising agency?

  2. I wrote advertising copy for a telephone company, primarily promoting the soft-sided nature of their vans.

    (Just kidding, of course.)

  3. Randoboy has an undergraduate degree in English with a journalism minor. He was a journalist in a former life and now does technical writing (and programming and biking and other stuff).