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I rode to work today - A story of a non miss

Discussion in 'Your Near Misses - A Place to Vent' started by ibast, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. I rode to work today.

    “So what?” would be what most of you are thinking. The reason that is significant is that’s the first time since the 24th November. The reason it’s been that long is I had a prang on the 25th.

    The alarm pried me from my stupor earlier than normal that morning. Earlier even than my gym mornings. I had a meeting up the coast later that morning and the thought of it made my blood feel like cottage cheese against my pre-caffeined heart. Not only that, it was raining. Again. I was sick of being wet. This wasn’t some annoying Melbourne shower and it wasn’t some fast and furious Brisbane storm, this was set in rain and it seemed it was there most days, for months, in Sydney that spring.

    So I had to make my unenthused was across Sydney, in the rain, get changed at work and drive a workmate up the coast for a meeting I neither wanted, nor needed to be at, but was requested to be at, from on high, and attend for political reasons.

    My journey sees me traveling east along the M5 at Moorebank, pretty early on. This morning the traffic is pretty bad, despite the ungodly hour and I end up in the left most of 3 lanes. This lane eventually becomes the off-ramp to Heathcoat road, but many use it and abuse the unbroken line that exists between the 2nd and 3rd lanes down towards Heathcote road.

    This morning, through no great planning, it looked like I was going to be one of those abusers. This is not a big deal for bikes, as the shoulder is readily available, after the diverge, to facilitate good gap finding.

    Trundling along the left lane with the traffic (I don’t like using the shoulder hear because cars often use it to avoid mergers), I see a tussle between two cars in front of me. The further from me is a Commodore trying to merge right. He is intent on stopping the entire left lane to achieve this. This is not uncommon. Behind him is a Territory trying to get around the inside him via the shoulder. As explained above, this too is not uncommon. What is uncommon is that every time the Territory goes to go around on the left, the commodore pulls hard left to prevent him.

    My thoughts (among other things) , ‘Mr Commodore thinks Mr territory wants to cut in up ahead, but I bet he wants to go up Heathcoat Rd. Better keep my distance until Mr Commodore realizes what’s going on.”

    This happens a few times and eventually Mr Territory is heading up the ramp and Mr Commodore is in the middle lane. A few thoughts go through my head:

    “Mr Commodore must feel like a real plonker having realized his error”
    “I still don’t really want to go past him”
    “I can’t find any gaps in the middle lane”
    “There’s some gaps up ahead, but I have to pass the plonker in the service lane to get to them”
    “Still he’s probably realized his error and has settled down”
    “I have to go past him eventually”

    So reluctantly I head up the shoulder to get to a safe gap, keeping an eye on Mr C Plonker. Then I notice Mr Territory slowing down to abuse C Plonker. This is after the lane has diverged and the cars can’t actually contact each other. I watch on somewhat amused.

    It was then that everything happened so fast, in slow motion. C Plonker swerves his car at the Territory. I see the movement straight away and hit the anchors. It’s too close to miss him no matter what, but instinct kicked in. I locked the front on the wet paint. I think, “That’s bad form, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway”. I’m going down to the right, but only part way down when the Commodore takes out my front wheel. I rode it all the way down, and the bike ended up in the v-gutter.

    I got off, staggered and thought it best I throw myself down, before I fall down. This must have looked pretty dramatic to passing motorists. I pried the helmet off. I was in pain in general and dressed like the Michelin man. Still disoriented I get up and C Plonker is there asking if I need and ambulance. I tell him to give me a minute, but he keeps nagging, so I end up yelling at him. Eventually my head stops spinning and I decide I don’t need and ambulance. A truck driver stopped to offer assistance and be a witness for me.

    The next 15 minutes is spent at the side of the road exchanging details in the rain and trying to stay out of an argument with Plonker who thinks he is innocent. At one point he threatens to drive off without exchanging details and I offer to ring the cops and remind him I witnessed all the proceeding events. He changes his mind and exchanges details.

    In the end he drives off complete naive to what he has just done. He even offers his mates services to fix the bike and parts with “at least you’re OK”.

    “You’re an asshat” was my thought. How could a human body take an impact like that and be OK? In that 15 minutes the pain in my ribs had me convinced my ribs were broken. The pain in my hip confirmed an impact there and as time progressed I became increasingly aware of a pain in my arm.

    The guy did help me get my bike upright, but only after I asked him too. The bike was pretty shattered down the right side and the right bar was bent, but I judged it rideable.

    After he left I decided to make my way home. I couldn’t refit my visor, so I was left to ride home in the rain. I limped a few kilometers before remembering my sunglasses. I stopped and put them on, despite the half darkness and pain.

    As I made my way the adrenalin began to wear off and I became increasingly aware of my pain in general, but more specifically in my right arm. I was beginning to doubt I would make it. I did however, but when I got there I couldn’t access my keys in my left inside pocket. The kids were still asleep and I didn’t want them to wake up to a bashed up dad, so I knocked gently on the door. I couldn’t rouse my girlfriend so I had to stomach the pain and get the keys out. I did and eventually got some of my gear off. Inevitably I had to wake my partner to get the rest of my gear off. Probably the worst thing I’ve ever done to her.

    The rest of the day was spent in and out of doctors, radiology clinics and emergency. The diagnosis was a non-displaced broken right radial bone. This meant I didn’t have to wear a cast, but at strap and I couldn’t load it for 6 weeks.

    Well now 2 months later I still haven’t got my full range of movement back and maybe never will. My load baring capacity is about ¼ of what it was before and will be at least another 3 months before it’s in the same ballpark as before.

    In that 2 months I couldn’t drive a car for about 5 weeks. I couldn’t help out around the house very much. I had to learn to use my left hand for everything. My partner had to do so much more work, with two young kids. I even had to be careful how I had sex. I’ve put on about 5 kilos of fat and lost about a kilo of muscle.

    The worst part was public transport and car pooling to work. Being dependent on others and having to listen to 2-day FM is hard to take.

    With regards the accident, the biggest mistake I made was assuming C Plonker was reasonably minded. I warned myself beforehand. I knew I shouldn’t have been there, but I assumed C Plonkers mindset incorrectly. We do this all the time on the road, but I erred on the wrong side of caution. I’m not sure I could have merged safely behind him and I’m not sure I should have been going faster or slower to avoid him. From here I can’t see exactly what I would have done differently, but a different opinion of C Plonker at the time could well have seen a different outcome.

    The bike took most of that 2 months to get back to me. With the Christmas/New year break in there and Triumphs hopeless spares system, I was unsure of when I’d get the bike back. I won’t mention who repaired the bike. The repair job looks OK, but they were hopeless at keeping me up to date with progress, even though I told them it was my only form of transport. I wouldn’t not use them again, but I would look at others first.

    I got to ride the bike a couple of times before today. The first was with some trepidation. I wasn’t sure how the arm was going to hold up and there looked to be some colour on the rear tyre with could have been oil in the past. The second was much better and the Triumph sang its siren’s song.

    I was still somewhat worried by today. It was a much longer trip and the load on my arm was going to be much more sustained. The other thing is that since the accident, C plonker has had his hand in his pocket with his insurance company (if he is insured). If he isn’t then he has received a letter of demand for about $4k. Then he is angry, unreasonable and probably still considers himself innocent and there is a fair chance he is somewhere on my route.

    In the end the trip was uneventful. I did notice the arm, but it wasn’t too bad. The future is a little different for me. I have to keep riding the bike, for sanity on the long commute. I will likely, however, get a car too, for those rainy days. I don’t want to see my family go through that again and I’ve been given the approval for a totally impractical car (mid-life crisis here I come). And I will appreciate the heater in winter.

    What we do is dangerous. We need to take responsibility for ourselves, because there are lots of Plonkers out there that will never get it and when it goes wrong it does more than just hurts. It disrupts your, and the people around you lives (if you are lucky).

    But for the moment, I rode to work today.
    • Like Like x 5
  2. Epic story mate. Glad you are still around.
  3. Speaking from personal experience, give yourself a little bit of practicality and comfort. A fiery, cantankerous beast is not much fun in gridlock.

    You have overcome. :dance:
  4. Great write up and I'm sure your experience here will help others with thinking more about the roadcraft side. I'll often commute in the rain, even though I could cage it. This gives me food for thought.
  5. I've never hesitated to ride in the rain from a personal safety point of view. Used to chuckle at a mate who never rode in the rain, but it's not about me anymore.

    Anyway that's the future. Rain predicted this week in Sydney, and I haven't a car yet.
  6. Yeah a bit long winded. The short of it is I did dumb, fell off and broke my arm, but that doesn't do justice to the disruption in my and my families life.
  7. Sorry to hear of your off ibast. I would have called the cops anyway. Arsehat should be on a neg driving charge.

    I honestly don't know how you guys put up with it. I sometimes find the traffic in Bega annoying :)
  8. ibast, nearly twelve months ago, whilst working, I sustained an injury which rendered my dominant hand useless and in a plastic cast type of thing for 8 weeks. And, whilst I found a lot of things difficult that I'm sure you did, the most difficult thing for me was learning how to wipe my bum with my left hand.

    What about you? What was the hardest thing about not being able to use your hand?
  9. Good to read it. Glad you are ok & riding again. (y)
  10. Fwiw make sure you are aware that driving in rain is the worst of the worst in terms of traffic and road rage. trip tones instantly double with first sign of rain. Stool beats riding in rain imo.
  11. Goddam!

    What a fracking asshat - jinking his car at the Territory. You were right to be wary of the smoker, pity it didn't make you keep your distance for another few hundred meters. FWIW's, give asshats wide berth, never assume anything positive.

    Glad you're kinda ok. Welcome to the broken bone brigade. Radial (wrist) breaks lead to future arthritis, so get stuck into the Fish oil, Glucosamine SULPHATE and if you haven't already, Calcium tabs to get those breaks to properly heal.
  12. And apparently makes people really shitty! :rofl:
  13. Before the accident I considered myself almost ambidextrous. I could catch a ball with my left hand and throw OK for example.

    Wiping my bum didn't pose too much difficulty, but I was amazed how much the world is set up for two handed people and right handed people. I found I was having to stop and think about how to do things.

    How do you put shampoo on your head?
    How do you open a safety top bottle?
    A new jar?
    How do you tie shoe laces?
    Even if I could drive, how would I indicate?

    The most frustrating thing was brushing my teeth. I discovered that I was OK if I didn't look in the mirror, but if I did I suddenly started brushing 90 deg to where I wanted the brush to go.

    Try it tonight.
  14. Yeah I've never had a broken bone before. Mine's at the elbow end. Twisting and gripping still hurts. On the calcium tablets and I do fear arthritis because the break was diagonal out of the joint.
  15. Okay. Good it wasn't more serious. Sounds bad enough, particularly the recovery.

    The only other thing I would add is that when you are on the ground and someone asks if you need an ambulance, the answer is always, always, YES. The police should then arrive as well, and if they don't, call them or have someone call.

    C Plonker made a deliberate aggressive move on the Territory. He should be called out on that, and educated as to what he did wrong.

    Sometimes a dedicated Shit Stirer like yourself needs to follow through ibast.
  16. Thanks for the sobering write-up iBast. I commute daily on my 250, rain hail or shine. This is a reminder to me not to take chances. I hope you continue to build strength and stamina in your arm.
  17. iBast - great write. A learning or two from this, thinking how short the life can be to learn from our own.

    Good to know you are back on two wheels.
  18. This is good advice, I just didn't want to have an argument with a cop as to why I was in the service lane, but in the end I was doing the other guy more of a favour by not calling them. A recon he was up for 2 cross unbroken lines and hooning. He was a red p-plater too, so he'd be walking now.
  19. If an ambulance is called in such a scenario - who is liable for the ambulance charges if the rider doesn't have ambulance coverage?

    Sorry if this is a stupid question.
  20. It is another good point. Usually its the person in the ambo regardless, but as I was on my way to work I can imagine it was covered by workcover.