Stone Cold Swerve

We’re southbound on Rt 376, ticking along at about 15 mph, with fresh string-trimmer debris littering the shoulder:

T – 50 ms

Did you notice the rock? I didn’t.

The fairing ripples as my front tire hits the left side of the rock:

T = 0

I have no memory of the next two seconds.

The offset impact turns the front wheel to the left, so the bike steers out from underneath my weight:

T + 500 ms

Because the bike frame was still aimed straight ahead, the wheel is steering further to the left and putting me even more off-balance. I am somehow trying to lean left far enough to get my weight lined up with the bike:

T + 1.0 s

One second into the event, Mary has no idea what’s going on behind her.

My memory resumes with an image of the yellow midline just beyond my left foot:

T + 2.0 s

Mary heard an odd sound and asks (over the radio) “Are you all right?”

I’m approximately balanced, turning toward the shoulder, and manage to shout “NO!”:

T + 3.0 s

I’m coasting toward the shoulder with my feet off the pedals:

T + 4.0 s

Mary is stopping and I coast past her:

T + 5.0s

Landing gear out:

T + 6.0 s

Back on the shoulder, lining up with the guide rail:

T + 7 s

Dead slow:

T + 8.0 s

Docking adapter deployed:

T + 9.0 s

And stopped:

T + 10.0 s

I sat in that exact position for nearly four minutes.

A slideshow view of the same images so you can watch it unfold:

Doesn’t look like much, does it?

If I could have looked over my shoulder, this is what I would have seen, starting at T = 0 with the rock impact blurring the image:

Surely scared the daylights out of that driver, perhaps confirming all the usual expectations of crazy bicyclist behavior.

Here’s what Mary would have seen over her shoulder, again starting at T = 0 with the fairing bulging from the impact:

Timing is everything.

That Benz is new enough to have automatic emergency braking, as it slowed pretty dramatically while I was busy getting out of the way, but it’s not clear whether AEB knows about small / lightweight targets like pedestrians and bicyclists.

We completed the ride as planned, although I finally realized the front fender bracket had broken a few miles later.

Every adult human male has at least one story beginning “But for that millisecond or inch, I wouldn’t be here.” Now I have one more.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Frank Herbert, Dune