7.23 lives. Phuzzy Verbosity. by PhuzzyGnu

I used up a couple of my 9 lives in the last couple days.

Episode one: The Carpet

I was riding to work on Highway 121 2-3 miles east of Highway 75. It's fairly busy on this two-lane highway, and I was several seconds behind the car in front of me. On coming traffic was solid with a mix of commuters and gravel and concrete trucks. Suddenly, an oncoming truck swerved hard to his right, going onto the grassy shoulder and beginning a lurid fishtailing slide. He was about 100 meters ahead of me, and his nose was pointing right at me. I grabbed the front brake and decelerated a bit from my 85 mph speed down to a more maneuver-condusive one. The truck whooshed by my left on the far shoulder.

Suddenly, all the cars ahead of me, both oncoming and in my direction of travel, began braking heavily and swerving. An oncoming concrete truck locked up all 10 wheels and fishtailed slightly in a plume of smoke, definitively ruling out an avoidance maneuver to my left. Cars ahead of me swerved and braked, a couple of them electing for the shoulder. The car(s) behind me were puckeringly close. Then I saw what had caused the excitement. The shoulder-sliding oncoming truck had swerved to avoid some solid-looking construction material that was tumbling down his lane. In the act of swerving, three of the 34 rolls of carpet that were precariously stacked in his 1/2 ton bed had come out and were sliding and rolling down the road. One went off the far shoulder, one was rolling in the opposite lane, and one was rolling and sliding towards my lane and me. I braked quite hard, and downshifted three gears and considered my options (all in about 1.5 seconds). Oncoming traffic ruled out the left, the roll of carpet ruled out my lane and was rapidly ruling out the shoulder (it was about 12 feet long), and the cars behind me ruled out an excellent test of the XX LBS.

I elected for the right hard shoulder and, possibly, the grass and scorched cornfield beyond. Braking and swerving, I moved towards the edge of the asphalt. While leaning back left to keep from rolling off the 3" lip of asphalt and then into a certain spectacular 50 mile per hour off-road excursion and crash, I missed the roll of carpet by mere inches. Cars behind were not so lucky.

I was late for work anyway, so I didn't stop. I did, however, use the remaining 30 miles or so of my commute to ponder "what if.." and think about what bike I could possibly stand to buy to replace a wadded XX. I answered the first query many times over with many different scenarios, though I was unable to answer the second.

Episode 2: F**king SUV Cellphone Wankers

I was riding home on the Tollway today in thick, 70 mile per hour traffic. In the middle of a left hand sweeper (that can be taken at 125+), I was in the left lane with no shoulder, only a hard Jersey Barrier. A Ford Expedition (why is it always an Expedition?) decided it would be the perfect time to change lanes- into mine. I was right by the rear driver's side door, passing through the blind spot and only a couple of car lengths behind the car in front. There was a car behind me. I could clearly see the big-haired driver yapping on a phone.

As the Ford came into my lane, I couldn't accelerate, and I couldn't go left. I could only brake. At 70mph. In a turn. In bumper-to-bumper 70 mph traffic. So I did.

The front tire tucked a wee bit, the rear raised up, and then the bike wobbled a bit as I released the brakes a bit and it regained composure. The Ford swerved back.

Shit.

-p.