I didn’t ride with Jonathan on Sunday morning, as I normally might, so I wasn’t with him at 6:30am, flying down a hill out in Lincoln, the Garmin showing 30mph, when the deer grazing on the verge just behind a tree got spooked by the sound of Jon’s whirring free wheel and darted into the road. Later, Jon’s wife asked, “Did the deer squeal or look at you after you hit it?” And Jon said, “I screamed before I hit it, and then I was sliding on the pavement. When I stopped and lifted my head off the ground, the deer was gone. I have no idea what the deer did.”
With his shorts, jersey and vest all torn, his helmet dented, he rode home, tufts of the deer’s fur still stuck in his shifters. By the time I ran into him (not literally) later in the day, he couldn’t express much beyond the vague details of the crash and a lingering incredulity that it had actually happened. The angry red patch on his thigh, another on his opposite shoulder, a chunk missing from his elbow, the aforementioned fir, all suggested it had though.
I told him that I was sorry for his road rash and was glad he hadn’t sustained any more serious injuries. I said I was sorry for the deer, too. But….holy shit….what an amazing story to be able to tell.
Karl tells this great story about the day, in his teens, that he was zipping along on a summer bike tour, fiddling with his two-button Avocet cyclo-computer and feeling like a real pro with his Greg LeMond aero bars, when he plowed headlong into the back of a Geo Storm. His fork bent so far back he couldn’t turn the bars because his front wheel overlapped the downtube. He put his teeth through his lip, and since there was no back up car for the tour group, he had to push his bike to the emergency room. He rode the rest of the tour with stitches in his face. He had to.
For myself, probably the weirdest thing I have seen is 1972 World Road Race Champion Henne Kuiper riding one of my bikes through the New England countryside, chatting amiably and acting more or less like any old schlub who likes to ride bikes, albeit one who jousted with Merckx and Hinault and Zoetemelk in his heyday.
On the one hand, there was the blood-chilling anxiety that something would go wrong with the bike, and I would be responsible for the injury of a legend. On the other hand, there was the giggly fan-boy thrill of spending the day with one of the all-time greats. Very weird. Very fun.
This week’s Group Ride asks, what is the craziest thing that’s happened to you on the bike? When have you been extraordinarily lucky or unlucky? When have you seen the wholly unexpected? Were you riding or watching? How did it change the way your ride or the way you think about riding?
Top Image: Benjamin Werner