Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Firstly, I’ve realized that when I made the teaser comment about bikes getting run over by an 18-wheeler a couple of weeks ago I never explicitly stated the bikes were riderless at the moment of impact. I, of course, knew the story behind these pictures, but how could anyone else? Cyclist/motorist collisions are never anything to trivialize and it always makes me feel rather queazy when I read or hear about accidents. That being said, let’s get to the hilarity behind these photos…
The scene: 1989. July. The day before Superweek started. I’d already been in Milwaukee for over a week staying at a teammate’s home in Whitefish Bay. Two more of our friends were en route from Virginia to join us in the whole Superweek experience. One was named Brent (that’s all I can remember, he was a friend-of-a-friend) and the other was a college classmate/teammate named Slice. At about 1ish-2ish am the evening before the first stage Brent and Slice rolled into Whitefish Bay. I was sound asleep but Tom, whose house we were staying at, got up to let them in. I sort of woke up, heard some commotion downstairs, thought I heard some notion of a bike-related horror story, but quickly returned to my slumber.
Then I went out to the patio Saturday morning.
It seems Brent had neglected to re-tighten the clamps holding his rack to his roof even though it had been installed for in excess of a year (maybe even two). Unfortunately, the roof rack parted company from the roof while they were hauling ass through Chicago at about midnight the previous evening. There was some kind of sickening, vaguely metallic noise…then silence…then a shower of sparks in the rear-view mirror. In the partial neon darkness of an illuminated interstate an 18-wheeler following directly behind their car obliterated the rack and its two bikes. Brent and Slice quickly pulled over to the shoulder but the big rig never even blinked. No horn, no brake lights, not even a middle finger from the cab. The driver was probably hopped up on meth and what was a few pieces of scrap metal spot welded to his bumper, anyway. Brent and Slice perused the shoulder and their lane for the remains of their bikes and what’s pictured above is all that’s left. Brent’s bike, the red one, somehow managed to have numerous pieces linked by brake and derailleur cables. Slice’s bike, formerly a sweet, blue Rossin, was really mangled: just a partial rear triangle/seattube/downtube/mangled left crank. Wow.
Brent and Slice managed to get some loaner bikes for Superweek, so all wasn’t lost. I never saw Brent again after those weeks of July, but I did keep in touch with Slice from time to time. Ever the aerobic machine, he actually ended up riding pro for Navigators for a few seasons (1994 and 1995, I believe) under his real name, Frederick Norton. I’m pretty sure he still mixes it up on the road in northern VA these days.