Fender Bender

Today I had my first accident with an automobile. I hope it’s my last.

It wasn’t serious. In fact, it wasn’t even a fender bender. It didn’t even slow down traffic. (An earlier accident a few miles down the freeway was already slowing traffic to snail’s pace.)

I had an early conference call and was already running behind after forgetting my helmet and having to go back inside to get it, and then realizing fuel was low and stopping at a gas station to fill up. Needless to say, I was rushing.

A taxi was changing lanes up ahead. Instead of slowing down and waiting for the taxi to finish changing lanes, I decided to go around it by swerving.

Swerving is a technique where you lean and push down hard and fast on the side of the handlebars in the direction you want to go to make quick turns. There is no turning the front wheel; the bike wheels stay inline while leaning directs the bike.

I went to swerve between the cars as they slowly progressed. But the car on the left slowed down. I hadn’t anticipated that. I squeezed both brakes.

Breaking while swerving is bad. It can cause fishtailing, or the rear of the bike swinging ahead.

My bike, a 2009 Triumph Street Triple I call Gwen, fishtailed into the car that had slowed down. My foot went under the bumper and my shin got pressed between the bike and the car. Letting go of the brakes, Gwen straightened up. I could have kept going, but that’s not cool. The bumper was scraped for sure.

We pulled over to take a look. For sure some paint came off, but that was it. The bike was without a scratch since my leg was in the way. I haven’t looked at the bruise yet.

I had on horsehide boots. It had a scrape about a millimeter deep in the toe, but my foot was unharmed. I guess it could have been broken or at the least cut up had I not had decent boots. Every time I see some idiot wearing Converse or flip flops on a bike I think about how easy it is to lose a foot in an accident. Horsehide boots: very good investment. (These were made by Al’s Attire on Grant Street in North Beach, San Francisco.)

I also was wearing Bilt Iron Workers jeans lined with Kevlar. It had some scuffs. I had removed the knee pads because they sat too high on my knees. Probably would have prevented the bruise, but probably would have damaged the car more. I’ll live with the bruise.

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