Having written on Wednesday about my first major bike crash, it won’t surprise you to know that there was a second. In fact, this was the accident which led me away from cycling everywhere and into a sedate life of travelling everywhere by car or public transport.
Things had moved on since that first accident. I was several years older and had long since passed my driving test. I had, I think, graduated from university, though hadn’t yet found a job or indeed anything that might resemble a career. My family were living in Bubbenhall, a village much further out from Leamington, and therefore necessitating a lengthy cycle ride to work for me.
I am pretty sure that this accident happened not because it was dark and raining (it was a sunny late summer day) but because I was trying to beat my personal best time for journey into work. The route was very straightforward, as most of it was along the same main road, passing through countryside and into the town. There was one small sharp climb, but the rest of the road was fairly fast and flat.
I admit that I had my head down and was trying to go as fast as I could. However, I was careful to look up occasionally to make sure there was nothing in front of me, particularly on the section between the ‘country’ part of the road and the ‘town’ part, where people were allowed to park on the road.
Which is how I came to cycle slap bang into a car that absolutely was not there the last time I had looked up.
Unlike the previous accident, there was no time to brake. I had clearly got into a ‘look-head down-look’ kind of rhythm (almost as swimmers do) but even so that car was definitely not there when I had looked up before. I just went smack into the front of a very nice Jaguar motor car.
The driver was right next to the car at the time. He was very gracious about it all. He admitted that he had only just pulled over to park outside his house. He also commented that he hadn’t realised that I wouldn’t see him and he joked that his wife had told him only days before that he couldn’t get the car resprayed and now he would have to do it anyway, as my brake levers had left scratches on his bonnet. With that he loaded me and my mangled bike into the car and drove me to work.
I don’t know how the damage to the car was really resolved. I know I wrote to the car driver to thank him for being so understanding, and for the lift. I hope that my parents didn’t end up paying out for another of my errors.
There’s another aspect to this story, though. After years of cycling, we had only recently as a family bought cycling helmets. They were nowhere near as good as the ones today, plain white and kind of boxy. However, that day the impact with the car caused me to land right on the crown of my head. Without that helmet I could have been seriously injured. Even today, I have to resist the temptation to shout ‘MORON’ at anyone I see cycling without one.