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  1. #1
    Senior Member John Wilke's Avatar
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    Ran down from behind

    On August 7, 2005 while riding on a quiet country road here in Wisconsin I was run down by an SUV going an estimated 50mph (limit was 35), the driver did not stop and left me for dead. I do not remember anything of the crash, but fortunately it was seen by two witnesses who called 911 and saved my life. My helmet was destroyed and has tire marks on the side. Fortunately for me I was thrown into a farmers field which gave me cuts from head to toe, I didn't hit anything solid. I spent 5 days in the hospital with a broken pelvis and lacerated bladder. During the last day in the hospital it was discovered that I was developing a rash all over my body ... poison ivy ... head to toe ! UGH. That was miserable, but I was alive. A week later, I developed fevers, peaking 103 F in the wee hours one night ... we called 911 and I spent another week in the hospital with fevers of 104.1F for 24 hours ... I developed numerous infections including a staph infection of my blood which could have done me in if not for the excellent medical care I received.

    I'm now 37 days out from the crash. I'm still walking with a walker, but it's getting better. I'm still peeing through a tube in my bladder, but have not had to have any surgery to fix my bladder yet. I'm still receiving IV antibiotics at home and will for 2 more weeks.

    I'm alive and very grateful.

    The big question ... will I ever ride the bike again?

    I'm 45 years old and have been riding since I was a kid. I spent 12 years racing in the USCF and am quite confident in my abilities to control myself on a bicycle.

    But what about the drivers on the road? Speeding - talking on cell phones - not paying attention - etc.

    I remember nothing of the accident. All I know is that it was a flat, straight road on a sunny sunday afternoon that had more cows and corn than cars. I'm 6'5", 200 lbs, and was wearing bright clothing.

    I love cycling, I put on 3,000 to 5,000 miles on per year and I love to go to bike races and watch, but this may be it for me.

    After getting mowed down from behind and left for dead ... I can't trust any drivers out there anymore.

    Could you?

    John Wilke
    Milwaukee

  2. #2
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    John - that's horrible. glad you are alive though and seemingly getting better.

    my accident wasn't nearly as bad as your. i'll spare you all the details, but basically a cab cut me off and we collided. 4 weeks later and armed with a new bike, i'm riding again. and it's not the same. i was pretty scared at first, it felt like everyone was out to slam into me. i didn't view traffic as something to ride with, but as a hostile group of people bent on putting me back in the hospital. i felt small and weak. it's getting a little better, and i think i'll be back to riding daily pretty soon.

    you just gotta ease into it. don't go far from home at first, and stay in your comfort level (i only road in the park at first). you shouldn't ditch something you love. don't let that guy take that away from you.

  3. #3
    Senior Member joeprim's Avatar
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    Damn that sucks! I don't know what I'd do if i were you. Did any of the witnesses get any details on the SUV?

    Good luck and keep us informed.

    Joe

  4. #4
    Senior Member John Wilke's Avatar
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    More info:

    The police won't give me any information because it's still under investigation. I was told they have my bike and they took lots of pictures, but that's all they can say at this point. I have no bike to look at, no memories of what happened - just a busted helmet and a busted body.

    It sucks !

    :^[

    John Wilke
    Milwaukee

  5. #5
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Well, John, first of all, we're very glad you made it through, and hope for your quick recovery.

    That said, I don't know if any of us who haven't been through something like that can honestly answer your question. We'd all like to urge you to "get back up on the horse", and encourage you by saying that those types of drivers are rare and its unlikely that anything that this will ever happen again even if you do resume riding. But, that doesn't feel like it sufficiently honors your experience, coming from anyone who hasn't been through it. So I don't really know what to say.

    I guess your exact question was if I could trust any drivers again after such an incident. I want to say that I would, but who really knows if I'd feel that way after going through what you did?

    One last question. I am in no way meaning to place any blame on you, please don't interpret it that way, but: Did you have a mirror? If not, maybe if you had, it might have helped you see this person coming and take evasive action (maybe, who knows for sure), and beginning to use one would make you feel more comfortable if and when you resume riding. (If you did have one, never mind.)
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
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  6. #6
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Look-up what happened to Joseba Beloki in the 2003 Tour de France. Horrible crash at high speed when arguably at the peak of his career. He's racing again this season. Maybe that can help inspire you to ride again!

    Best of luck with your recovery. I hope the police are useful and can nail that ignorant bastard who ran you over to wall and then some. Sounds like he(?) could use some time in PMITA prison.
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
    ---

    http://www.cycopaths.net/

  7. #7
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    John,

    glad you made it through the accident, hope you have a full and speedy recovery.


    I too am a lifetime rider, and have had some serious crashes in the past 4 decades. More recently, having been hit from behind five years ago by a cab, and also currently off the bike, rehabbing a broken hip and foot from an bike car collision in mid August of this year, I can relate to your apprehension about riding again.after the cab accident, I was apprehensive about riding, but that went away after a few rides. This time, I just want to get back on the wheel. Hopefully, the apprehension will be minor. Good luck!

  8. #8
    jim anchower jamesdenver's Avatar
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    do they at least have a name? if the police are too slow i'd hire a lawyer and private investigator. i'm sure they - i'm sure they'd proceed on it without any money up front

  9. #9
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    Rodney Moseman, the custom bike builder, was hit from behind in 2002 by a semi tractor-trailer. The injuries were extensive, but fortunately no brain damage, and he was hospitalized for many months. He has recovered and continues to ride.

  10. #10
    militant commuter
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    Sorry to hear about the collision, sorry that the driver was too small to stick around. I hope you heal quickly and as painless as possible. If I was out your way I would volunteer to ride with you, a small pack may make you feel safer. I hope you soon feel secure in riding again.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking

    One last question. I am in no way meaning to place any blame on you, please don't interpret it that way, but: Did you have a mirror? If not, maybe if you had, it might have helped you see this person coming and take evasive action (maybe, who knows for sure), and beginning to use one would make you feel more comfortable if and when you resume riding. (If you did have one, never mind.)
    I used to subscribe to the thoery that i could escape an "attack from behind" by virtue of using a mirror. I love my helmet mirror and don't ride anywhere without it. I have ridden thousands and thousands of miles with it.

    On the bike i have often asked myself if the mirror would give me enough notice to avert a rear end job. When a cars comes up i sometimes simulate it in my brain as to what i would do if i couldn't detect that the car was getting over. What i have found is that i don't think the odds are very good that i would :
    a.) Notice the car was not giving me enough room. or b.) Have time to do anything about it.

    I'm sorry you had such a bad accident but I am glad that you are alive. I worry a lot about getting hit on the road yet haven't given up on cycling. Stories like yours and so many others, are red flags in my mind. I think a person is foolish if they don't pay attention to red flags.

    I haven't even come close to deciding to quit riding but the thought is there. I suspect an event like yours would cause me to give it up but i don't know. I do know that life is short and that cycling is not the only potential hazard in life. I also know that it is one of the very few things that i thoroughly enjoy.

    Good luck to you my friend.

  12. #12
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    i hope that guy is found. he deserves to rot in a tiny cell somewhere. if you do find him, get the best lawyer you can and go for the jugular. i still can't even imagine how someone could just leave after an accident like that.

  13. #13
    Banned.
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    Quote Originally Posted by timmhaan
    i hope that guy is found. he deserves to rot in a tiny cell somewhere. if you do find him, get the best lawyer you can and go for the jugular. i still can't even imagine how someone could just leave after an accident like that.
    What about the possiblity that it wasn't an "accident"?

  14. #14
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger
    What about the possiblity that it wasn't an "accident"?
    true - i should have said incident. i truely hope nobody would TRY to kill someone on purpose just riding a bike around, but i guess you never know. some people are sick.

  15. #15
    You know you want to. Eatadonut's Avatar
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    My helmet was destroyed and has tire marks on the side.


    holy ****. you're one lucky punk. I'm never really worried about things like that happening out here, there are so many cyclists where I ride that people are pretty used to us, but there's always that nagging in the back of my head of "what if"...wow.

    I hope you make a full recovery - and get back on that saddle.
    Weather today: Hot. Humid. Potholes.

  16. #16
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    There's a hit and run trial going on right now in Santa Barbara. Lady hit a pedestrian on her way home from a party where witnesses say they served her alcohol. The assumption is she went home and only called the police after the alcohol wore off. Bet her lawyer recommended that. I wouldn't be surprised if something like that happened, minus the calling the police part.

    I'm glad you survived. I know how it feels, sort of. I had a motorcycle accident recently, but only minor injuries. I was very scared to get back on. Even now, when I'm pulling out from where it happened, I look down the street and even though I can see it is clear, I don't believe it is clear. I brace for impact still. If you decide to hang it up, I'll understand.

    I hope they take your case seriously. For some reason, people can kill cyclists and get away with it.
    ~Diane
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    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  17. #17
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    Livestrong. Thats my only advice.

  18. #18
    Bent_Rider
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    You could look at it this way; Lighting does not strike twice in the same place. It's all about nerve.
    Best of luck to you. I hope they find the @#$%er.

  19. #19
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    Wow...You are lucky, or unlucky, you are still alive. Rear-enders are very rare. But, almost always deadly.

    Here are a few things I noticed:

    1. Riding on a quiet country road in Wisconsin.
    (Complacency. Most people think riding in traffic is dangerous. So, when there's no cars around, they let their guards down.)

    2. Were you using a rear-view mirror?
    (The SUV goon might have still nailed you. But, if you had early warning, you might have a chance.)

    3. I got nailed from behind once by a driver with suspended license, DUI priors, and one glass eye. The speed of the car was 35 mph. I should have died. Instead, I walked away with nothing more than a bruised hip and managed to give a TV interview. I was towing a big aluminum box on a trailer, which absorbed the impact.

    Will you ride again? I dunno. See my strategies on how to deal with wild and crazy drivers: Dr. RedNeckLove or How to fight back without really dying
    Given the majority's ruling, the only safe bicycle in Illinois is a stationary exercise bike located in one's home or at the gym. ----Illinois State Supreme Court, Boub V Wayne

  20. #20
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    You may find a fundamental difference in attitude between those of us who have been struck by motor vehicles (in my case, once, 29 years ago; concussion, facial lacerations, broken clavicle) and those who have not. Partly because she remembers my experience so vividly, my wife gradually gave up road bicycling entirely. I continue to ride, but I select my routes and weather and traffic conditions very carefully, and I ride less than I would like to.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  21. #21
    wildjim
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    I hope that you recover fully and quickly. . .

    As for trusting drivers. I don't trust people as general rule, as I've seen the bad side of people too many times.

    I especially do not trust people while cycling. I ride with the traffic facing me; which is not a solution at all as I cross traffic from the wrong direction. I mainly stay on the side walk or on bicycle trail where there is no traffic. I've been side swiped and ran off the road a few times already. I've just been much luckier than you.

    People Suck make no mistake !

  22. #22
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    Glad to hear you're getting better quickly John. It's a good thing you're a fit and healthy rider. Anyone else might not have survived. As for riding, you can always ride in the park or ride with a group for safety.

    I don't know how I'd react to such a life changing situation, but ask yourself if you'd feel happier knowing you were safer not riding your bike.
    HHCMF - Take pride in your ability to amaze lesser mortals! - MikeR



    We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    There are just too many stories of cyclists being struck and left for dead. Very scary. You didn't say but were you riding alone? I believe that riding in a group offers much better protection. For one you are more visbile. Two - much less chance of harrasment. Three - I have found cars more cautious around groups of riders than just a single rider. And, finally, if you are struck then is someone right there to summon aid.

    Yes - I have heard that even long pacelines of cyclists are occassionally taken out by a distracted driver.

  24. #24
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    John,

    Wow. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sorry you had to go through it, but glad you lived to tell us about it!

    I have been writing for over a year on this forum about a concept I call "dynamic lateral lane positioning". I haven't referred to it by name in a long time, but it is the principle that drives most of my posts. On country roads here is how it is applied:

    1) Use a mirror.
    2) Ride in the center of the lane except to allow faster traffic to pass.

    There are two main hazards to a cyclist on a long straight road with no intersections:

    1) Driver from behind does not see you and runs you down, or is not aware of your presence and inadverdently drifts into you.
    2) Driver in oncoming lane decides to pass slower vehicle in his lane, and moves into your lane to pass without noticing you're there.

    In both cases the best defense is a good offense: ride in the center of the road.

    For the first case, you ride in the center of the lane to greatly increase the chance that the driver approaching from behind sees you and is aware of you. There is a big difference between "seeing" you and being aware of you. Consider the situation from the point of view of a driver. Who is he more likely to see and be aware of:

    a) A cyclist up ahead off to the side, in a bike lane, or in a shoulder?
    b) A cyclist up ahead in the middle of "his" lane?

    It is much harder to ignore a cyclist in your lane than a cyclist "off to the side".

    Once the driver from behind is close enough to have achieved a high likelihood of his awareness of my presence, I move aside, perhaps into the bike lane or shoulder if there is one there, to facilitate his passing. I submit that by doing so I am no more vulnerable than I would have been had I been riding along the side the whole time. Plus, more importantly, the driver is much more likely to be aware of my presence than he would have been otherwise, and, thus, much less likely to inadverdently drift into me. I don't see the downside.

    For the second case, where an oncoming driver wants to pass, again, by being in the center of the lane it is much more likely that he will see me and decide to abort his pass. Now, it's possible that he still won't see me, and I'll have to go to plan B (move aside!), but I'm much less vulnerable to this possibility. Again, I don't see a downside.

    Use the full lane to be visible and predictable, except to let faster traffic pass, when safe and reasonable to do so.

  25. #25
    royal dutch of dukes
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    AND we must be politically active, asserting our rights to congregate as bikers, to be seen as viable, valid occupiers of the same roads cars drive on. to do less would be to not care about every other cyclist in this country.

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