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Old 12-13-2008, 04:15 PM   #1
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It might be time to give up fixed riding....(possibly road cycling altogether)

Before you freak out too much don't worry. I'm fine, aside from a little scraped knee I am completely uninjured. Long but I have to get it off my chest.

This latest incident was of an altogether different vein. Something much more horrible in my eyes than hurting myself against a motor vehicle yet again. That I seem to be able to handle quite well psychologically. Once healed I hop back on the bike and am ready to rock it all over again. Perhaps it's a slight defect in my personality but it has also been a contributing factor in why I have always refused to drive a car. I don't want to hurt someone.

The simple fact is that I am a stimulus seeking individual which has led to a 10 year stint of cycling in various dangerous ways. I am by far not the craziest but I am definitely up there and my recent fascination has been pushing the limits in the gnarliest traffic I can find on a bike that is designed in such a way to make it much more challenging and dangerous.
Less injury prone but easily more deadly.

I have always rationalized this behavior with the mindset that I am only a danger to myself. It was the only way this game was fair in my mind. I was the only player, I was the one at risk

That illusion I had constructed came crashing down around me yesterday when I struck a pedestrian. A new low, the ultimate shame. To my credit she was running across a street when her light was red and my light had been green for a while. I was riding in a lull in traffic so from a distance the street would have seemed empty to someone living in a society where a cyclist pushing 40 km/h on the road is about as common as seeing Gooch turn down a fuoi gras kobe beef sandwitch. It seemed as if this would be no problem because I saw her making this move when I was still quite far away and chose a line that would make me pass behind her. Things were going fine until she suddenly did a 180 turn and headed back from where she was coming from when I was less than two metres away pushing 30 km/h. The line I chose depended on her continuing to run or at the very least stopping to avoid a collision so I hit her, hard. That was my fatal error that might haunt me for the rest of my time I spend on a bike.

She went down and hit her head. If there is one great blessing to come out if this is that she is not too badly hurt. She received a concussion and has to miss two days of work by order of the doctor. I have compensated her for her lost wages and hospital bills already plus a bit extra. In China they tend to settle things like this on the spot. I waited in the police station for four hours to hear about the results of her hospital visit and once they were in the policeman asked to look at one of her recent pay stubs and he calculated a number. I paid it and we signed a hunch of papers and he stamped them and declared the case settled. Things could have been so much worse and for that I consider both of us to be blessed.

I know it's only been one day but I just can't imagine riding the way I used to. I don't even want to get a regular racing bike with brakes and gears. It wasn't the bike that was the problem it was the whole mindset. Faster, crazier, balls to the wall with no compromise and I can't imagine riding like that not being able to lie to myself anymore about the existence of another, uglier possible consequence to my actions. This kind of shit could happen on a road bike too in this country and I would consider myself no better than a shithead street racer racing cars outside a closed course. I also can't imagine riding in any other way. It's my thing and it's what I do and it will leave a huge void needing to be filled.

If you've made it this far thank you for taking the time to read this. Feel free to comment but if you want to throw in anything in an I-told-you-so type of tone it really is unnecessary. I couldn't possibly be feeling more shame right now.

Peace and be safe out there or you might get run down by some idiot on a bicycle...
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Last edited by Fast Orange; 12-13-2008 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 12-13-2008, 04:34 PM   #2
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Take a deep breath and give it a few days. It sure sounds like you were no way at fault, let the shock of the situation die down a bit.

Accidents happen.

Shame and guilt are natural to anyone normal person that cause caused pain to another, but it doesn't sound like you have anything to be shameful for.
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Old 12-13-2008, 04:54 PM   #3
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dude, you just need to leave yourself a wider margin for error, or yell at people more. you must know "get outta the way" in mandarin by now.

the other question is, was this in traffic lanes? if so, how fast do cars go?

I really think this is simply one miscalculation on your part, you thought that the ped would continue on course, she didn't. learn from that, adjust, and continue to do something you obviously love to do.
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Old 12-13-2008, 04:58 PM   #4
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The problem is I was riding on the main road. There is a designated bicycle lane on every major street in china that is separated from the traffic by a median. It is technically illegal to ride a bike on the road with cars in China but I had been doing it anyway because trying to ride in the crowded bike lanes with all the turtles going 10 km/h was driving me slowly insane. Nobody was going as fast as me most of the time, not even the cars because people generally don't drive very fast in the city maybe 40km/h tops. I was using the road as a playground which was stupid.

If I was a less selfishly reckless this never would have happened. Period.
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Old 12-13-2008, 05:14 PM   #5
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oh yeah and there's a chance my bike might be gone forever anyways. The police took it and said I could have it back on Monday. They gave me a claim ticket but I'm not ruling out the possibility that it might get lost in the sea of Chinese bureaucracy.
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Old 12-13-2008, 05:17 PM   #6
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Then I guess you do have a choice to make.

I used to be into sportbikes. A few large speeding tickets and a couple of close calls left me with a choice. I either tone it down or quit because like you say above, I was using the public roads for a playground. Riding slow and legal wasn't fun to me so the bike got sold and I started mountain biking more.

I know a few other friends at the time that had the same choice to make. They actually kept their bikes and started racing. Getting the adrenaline fix in a controlled environment worked for them and they had no desire to ride recklessly on the public streets an longer.

There's lots of choices you can make, it sounds like you've learned a lesson though.
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Old 12-13-2008, 05:18 PM   #7
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Ride with the turtles for a while on your new bike. Once the agony of the pace gets to you, you are ready to get out in traffic again.

As for guilt and responsibility, just do as Full Monty suggested and ride with a slightly bigger margin. It sounds like you were really not at fault, other than riding in the road to begin with.

Heal up quick, and same to the injured girl. Maybe you can take her out for a drink once she's feeling better. That would prolly make you feel a ton less shitty.
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Old 12-13-2008, 05:22 PM   #8
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maybe you do need a break, I had a similar thing happen, just it was with MTBs and whistler. I freaking owned myself a couple times, once enough to blow the 20mm axle out of the QR20 system.

no permanent injuries or anything, and obviously no third parties involved, but the cost/benefit ratio of riding wasn't looking so great. I didn't ride for like a year, but now I'm in a mindset where I don't need to be doing huge jumps to have fun, and I'm probably enjoying myself more than when I was getting up at 6am to drive to whistler and ride for the whole day.

anyway, do what you need to, but try to learn from and not dwell on what happened.

as a side note, this is interesting from a "clashing mentalities of western dude following an individual pursuit trying to fit into a communal culture" perspective, but I digress.
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Old 12-13-2008, 05:23 PM   #9
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Heal up quick, and same to the injured girl. Maybe you can take her out for a drink once she's feeling better. That would prolly make you feel a ton less shitty.
I'm not even slightly hurt.
And no way that would happen, she hates me. She was trying to soak me for tons of cash but the cop overruled her. The look she gave me after I paid her and she left could have melted lead.
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Old 12-13-2008, 05:26 PM   #10
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another idea, provided you get the orange and blue beast back, is to keep it for weekend trips outside of the city? not sure if there are smaller back roads, but maybe you just gotta give up the alleycat ways.
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Old 12-13-2008, 05:53 PM   #11
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I'm not even slightly hurt.
And no way that would happen, she hates me. She was trying to soak me for tons of cash but the cop overruled her. The look she gave me after I paid her and she left could have melted lead.
Considering the stare - sometimes kids look at me that way, I have lost count. And got used to it. She was lucky - so she should not blame you as being the guilty one. Do not feel bad. I do not feel bad if I give them kids homework. No longer, that is.

Seriously,

1. You are not hurt, she is badly hurt as far as I understood the post.

2. Get over the shock, treat yourself with something nice.

3. You did the right thing, trying to go around her (even if blasting down roads may not, but this could be argued again and again - the cyclist who has never done anything like that, please raise your hand), unfortunately you could not look into her head and read her thoughts.

4. A safe and happy time. See it as a second chance.
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Old 12-13-2008, 05:57 PM   #12
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She's okay. No major damage, she never lost consciousness or anything.

Here's a short vid of what the intersection where I hit her looks like. I'd never seen anything like it before I came here. That crazy one in Tokyo is super calm in comparison:

YouTube Video


I was having fun a few days ago filming Chinese traffic.
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Old 12-13-2008, 06:00 PM   #13
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Oh god this one is perfect. traffic here is something you have to see to believe, it's really strange:

YouTube Video
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Old 12-13-2008, 06:03 PM   #14
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reminds me of Paris or Rome.
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Old 12-13-2008, 06:45 PM   #15
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So she was crossing on a red light? As far as I'm concerned she should be happy that she got anything from you.

You're a brave man to ride in traffic over there. The first thing I noticed when I was over there in November was that the drivers there are nuts. You could not pay me enough money to drive anywhere in that country.
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