At 8:57 this morning, my life almost changed forever.
First it was the yelling squeal of rubber slipping on hard pavement. With no time to think I saw the man’s face glimpse out from behind a teal car slowing down in front of us. They had just merged off 288 onto West Creek Parkway and were going way too fast. We were running two abreast hugging the shoulder. Yeah it is a dangerous place to be running, solely because of the law breaking speeding and negligence of prominent and necessary yield signs.
But I did not sense any danger until moments after the incident had fully occurred.
The man’s face went back behind the car and what felt like an eternity later, his motorcycle slipped down to the ground, his foot grinding underneath it like a soft nut shell between two stones. His bike skidded coming straight for us. Our frail legs ran towards the mass of metal like bowling pins waiting to be slammed. But when his bike finally came to rest a few feet past where we stood, we all were in the grass having in unison narrowly avoided the incident with a quick timely jump to safety.
The cursing began as soon as the blood began to spurt out of the man’s face. His left brow had been punctured and dragged across the ground and squirted blood like some special effects from a cheesy gore movie. It was obvious from the immediate yelling and accusations that he was fine though. He grabbed his helmet off his head and threw it into the grass.
“What the f*%$ were you all doing running in the middle of the road?!”
The driver who he had narrowly avoided colliding into her rear bumper came running back to see what happened. A driver that had seen the whole incident came with a first aid kit to cover the wound on his brow. Other than a few cuts and most likely a broken foot that had been smashed by the weight of his bike and the friction of it sliding on the pavement, he seemed fine, just very upset.
The team began redirecting traffic around the accident and slowing cars exiting 288 to prevent a repeat of the same incident.
While I stood there waving cars on, I realized the closeness I had come to an extremely severe accident. I’m running with a cast on and I’m fortunate that my mountain biking accident did not result in worse injuries. But the tiny break in my thumb was the end to my invincible mentality. I am not indestructible and 500 pounds carrying the speed that it was at me is a lot of momentum. With my feet fixed to the ground and the solid metal of his bike ramming my shins would have surely turned my bones into gelatin.
I would have gone from being one of the top level triathletes in the state to being unable to walk from a silly motorcyclist’s rush to get to work on time.
I stood there listening to the anger and blame of the man on the ground. I wanted to say something. I wanted to defend myself and my teammates from the accusations. But he was the man on the ground headed to the hospital, not me. The negativity continued to wear on me. I kept hearing how it was our fault because we were running at a busy time of day in a dangerous place on a high-traffic road. I knew that we had done nothing wrong and yet I knew that was not enough. I had almost lost my legs and the motorcyclist was lucky to be in the condition he was in.
We had not broken a law, sure. And he had. But I will not be running at that place anymore, not because I know I am not breaking a law, just because I don’t want to be the one to make the headline news. I don’t want to be the one that gets drivers to slow down on West Creek Parkway. It is not a cause that is worth the danger.