Guest Post – A Close Call

(Graham speaking) When I heard about the incident from a good buddy, I knew I had to ask Scott to tell his story on WaterlooBikes. I’ve  cycled with Scott Kemp on a number of occasions and enough to know that Scott’s a beast when it comes to climbing.   When Scott’s not riding his bike (training for an ironman, riding to work) he’s an extraordinary teacher trying to push our educational system into the information age. You’ll find Scott on twitter and on a couple of his blogs (ironman journey, and the radical shift).

Scott Kemp is in the middle - 2010 bike with Lance cancer fundraiser in Waterloo

A Close Call

When I decide to go for a ride, my first and most direct instinct is to get out of the city. The traffic, the lights, the sketchy bike lanes and brutal shoulders all convince me that the open, quiet roads of the country are for me.

Now, I’m not talking the middle of nowhere, but I just need to get out of the heartbeat to hear my heart beat.

I usually get isolation. I usually get the odd car or truck that swings into the other lane and passes me without any worry. I usually will see another cyclist out and enjoying the same steady paced ride I am.

A few Saturdays ago, that changed.

Let me give you some context:

I was riding with a buddy. It was early. Very early. Trying our best to “get it in” before the suffocating heat of the day. We had just come off of the 86, which has traffic, but this early it wasn’t too bad.  We were set into a nice steady pace along Manser Road.

At this point, I will tell you we were riding two-abreast. We don’t normally ride like this, however, we were. Take it. It is not illegal to do so. That part is important.

A pick-up truck, a big one, approached us from behind and was quite snug to the shoulder, which is basically non-existant. The truck just missed me. (I was closest to the road.) I remarked to Shane, “Man, this guy is close.” Because, that’s the thing, he wasn’t travelling exceptionally fast.  I had time to recognize he was close and to say something. There was no oncoming traffic, so his proximity was a bit perplexing.

I avoided the truck, no worries. What I didn’t anticipate was the trailer he was towing. A trailer wider than his truck. He caught me on the left shoulder, swiping past me. Luckily, I am a solid, confident rider. I swerved, pushing Shane onto the gravel, but stayed upright. We both did. All in all, no real damage beside a scrap/burn to my left arm from the truck.

But, I was shaken. Shane was shaken. We couldn’t believe it. We didn’t catch his license plate number. We were buzzing.

The real damage was mental.

And there it is.

It is these moments, the close calls, the near-misses, that never get any play in the media. We hear about the relationship between cars and cyclists when it is tragic, not when it is troubled.

Like a marriage that hides the fights. We only hear about it when it’s over. At that point, it is too late.

We need to call forth an open, honest dialogue between citizens about cycling. We need to push to make our drivers more cyclist friendly and our cyclists more driver friendly.

On an open road, quiet, isolated, the relationship still exists.

This post was also cross-posted on Scott’s blog In Constant Pursuit – My Path to Ironman.


2 thoughts on “Guest Post – A Close Call

  1. Trailers always make me nervous because you never know if the driver is aware of the width, or worse, the length of what they’re towing. Drivers also often misjudge the speed of the cyclist as they pass.

    Do you think it was an intentional close call that got out of hand? Or was it unintentional and therefore a result of incompetence?

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