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2500 milliseconds. That's about all the time I had to absorb what was about to happen.

I was 15 minutes into my 22 mile commute home last night. It was quite chilly, and I was idly thinking about putting on more layers while I was stopped. I was at the intersection to cross Highway 34, which is busy enough to need a signal light, but never seems to get one. There is generally a long wait to cross on a bicycle. I checked to make sure my headlight was flashing, and reached back behind the commuter trunk to turn on the rear red blinky. It seemed to be lost in the folds, so to speak, because my new trunk bag was very long and I was having trouble finding where I had clipped it. While fumbling with the blinky, I made eye contact with a guy in a Mitsubitsi, who pulled up alongside to make the same Highway 34 crossing.

East bound traffic was clear for over 1/2 a mile, and there was a westbound pickup turning right onto the road we were on. I could see a little blue sedan behind him, staying in the 'slow' lane, westbound. All of the sudden, the guy in the Mitsu pulls out into the highway, and then sees the blue sedan – about 60 feet away at 55 mph! I watched in horror, thinking: “Crap! I am about to get run over by two cars in rapid succession!” Fortunately the blue sedan cartwheeled the Mitsu away from me.

Now, he was skidding and careening straight towards me. I had no time to do any thing. The next I knew, my bike was flying away, still attached to my shoe, right hand on the handlebar, and I was balanced, almost floating on the edge of the hood/grill area of the car.

That lasted about for what seemed like several seconds – I even thought: “Weird! I am almost floating in front of this guy.” More like the blink of an eye, and I was weightless, flying through the air, trying to see where I was going to land. More weird thoughts from time-slowed-down-land: “I still have my bike! If I can just get twisted around and set it down gently…” THUMP! I hit hard, face-first, in a very wet grassy ditch, gently sloping sides, and about two feet of water in the bottom. I remember the intense pain in my back, and thinking “Great! I am going to drown in a ditch with a broken back!”

Thanks to God, no broken bones. I was hauled off to ER in an ambulance that took longer than I would have on a bicycle, because they took the long way, but the paramedics (firemen) were great, as were the ER people. It was quite a struggle getting my soaking wet cycling clothes off, especially the bib knickers. Two nurses trying to get soaking wet lycra off a fat middle-aged man by tugging from the ankles – not going to happen. I finally had to intervene: Ladies, I know this is a horrifying thought, but you are just going to have to reach up there and peel me nekkid like a banana - from the top down! Quite a hoot, but of course ER nurses are troopers, and they got me stripped and warmed up. I did not stop shaking for an hour.

I have severe back pain (about a 6 if you are a MTB racer, I suppose), and will get an MRI this afternoon. Most frustrating, I have still not gotten hooked up with my bike. The State Police impounded it to protect it from looting, etc. Last I saw, the seat and luggage rack were pointed a different direction than the wheels, and while I was in the water, it looked like the rear wheel might have been taco'd. We shall see.

Sure glad I was wearing a helmet – It provided a slick skidding surface, so I slid down the bank into the water. I am going to credit it with preventing a broken neck AND a broken back!

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