Doctor Van Nostrand (I have absolutely no idea what his name really was) said it probably wasn’t the truck that broke my collarbones. No, they were actually snapped by the force of getting slammed into the pavement from atop my bicycle after getting hit. My left knee and calf took the brunt of the initial impact so the Chevy Suburban was really only responsible for the first part. The ground took care of the rest.
By making an on-coming left turn directly into my path, the Mother (who had two children in the backseat) left me with two unpleasant choices:
1) Brake and slam into the right side of the vehicle at about 27mph.
2) Accelerate in front of her and hopefully just get clipped from the left.
Clearly, neither of the above decisions lend themselves to positive outcomes but the latter also entertains the very real possibility of getting run over. Which is pretty much the last thing you want. Especially by a Chevy Suburban.
Regardless, I chose the higher Risk/Reward option. It sounds cliché but time nearly came to a standstill before the impact. It was literally like a movie or one of those car commercials where everything slows down right before the BANG!!
The scene took place in late afternoon on the day before Thanksgiving in 1989 as I was heading back down E. Blithedale from a great ride up on Mt. Tam. Anxious to get home and have dinner, I was making good time and very nearly keeping pace with traffic on the slight descent toward Boyle Park. Then, just up the road from the tennis courts, everything shifted into super-slow motion as I instantly realized that some very, very bad things were about to take place and there was nothing I could do about it. Dinner was probably going to have to wait.
At first I thought I could accelerate enough to get by cleanly but the Mother got across pretty quick and hit me nearly dead center with her license plate. The bumper connected about mid-shin and the outside of my left knee actually broke a hole in the grill. Then physics took over and the entire right side of my body became one with the intersection of East Blithedale and Walnut, distributing hundreds of pounds of force into the unforgiving pavement. I guess my jersey and shorts provided some cushioning but basically just disintegrated into my skin along with the gravel and grime from Walnut Avenue.
Needless to say, my spindly little 14 year-old clavicles could not possibly withstand this sequence of events and instantly snapped in half on both sides. Amazingly, I got right back on my feet and began hopping up and down in the street as if I had stubbed my toe, trying desperately to comprehend what had just happened. It did not take long to realize that there had been some pretty hefty damage but at first I thought my right wrist and left knee were the worst off. As the adrenaline began to fade, it seemed like every part of my body hurt.
Finally sitting down in the grass in front of the hair salon on the corner, it became clear that there was more wrong with me than I could accurately diagnose. The big lump in my right collarbone was disconcerting, as was the blood gushing from my left leg and right arm.
At least a half dozen people either witnessed or heard the accident and soon there were ladies from the hair salon and other random gawkers milling around asking me if I was okay. I do not recall my exact response but I’m pretty sure it involved an expletive and the word “Ambulance.”
To Be Continued…