Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Risks of the Road?

And I thought it was bad enough that we had to watch out for cars. While meandering around cyberspace I encountered this story:

Colo., Sept. 10 (UPI) -- A freak bolt of lightning struck a 56-year-old cyclist in Englewood, Colo., even though no electrical storms were reported in the area, authorities say.

Perry Schellpfeffer, an Englewood police spokesman, told The Denver Post the unidentified victim was hit by the lightning Wednesday afternoon. His injuries were not considered life-threatening. "There were some clouds and it was thundering a little, but there wasn't any kind of lightning storm," Schellpfeffer said.

Wow. You’re riding along minding your own business and lightning hits you. Of course, it wasn’t out of a clear blue sky. After all, if it’s thundering, even a little, there must be some lightning somewhere, but I still wouldn’t have been expecting it.

Now, seeing something like this, I wondered what other kinds of things have happened to poor souls on bikes.

Dateline: JACKSON, Wyo. - A mountain biker on Togwotee Pass fought off a grizzly bear that repeatedly charged him until a companion drove the animal off with pepper spray. Kirk Speckhals escaped his encounter without a scratch; he had only four dirt marks from the bear's claws on his forearm, a punctured bicycle tire and a bent rim. He said he hopes others learn from the mistakes he made during his ride around Pinnacle Buttes including not making enough noise to warn bears, not riding together and not carrying pepper spray.

Not making enough noise to warn bears…not a safety precaution I normally take, I have to admit. Another store about a bear attacking a cyclist included this line:

The girl was lucky she was wearing a bike helmet because the bear had bitten her head.

Now, I am not making fun of someone who got attacked by a bear, but I have to admit that I found the last sentence kind of odd. I am all in favor of bike helmets, but I never considered them useful in case of bear attacks. Perhaps that should be part of a campaign to get people to wear them.

It turns out that the whole bear-cyclist thing (and who would have imagined that there was a bear-cyclist thing?) goes both ways.

Bear vs. Bike: Cyclist Hits 300-Pound Black Bear

57-year-old Jim Litz, a science teacher in Missoula, Montana, t-boned a black bear while riding his bike to work.

He was traveling about 25 mph when he came upon a rise and spotted a black bear about 10 feet in front of him. “I didn't have time to respond. I never even hit my brakes,” Litz said.
He tumbled over his handlebars, planting his helmeted head on the bruin's back, and man and beast went cartwheeling down the road. The bear rolled over Litz's head, and its mass cracked his helmet. As the duo toppled over one another, the bear clawed at Litz's cycling jacket, scratching his flesh from shoulder to buttocks before scampering up a hill above the road, where it stopped and whined.

I would have stopped and whined, too, if I was minding my own business and got hit by a guy going 25 mph. Clearly that guy wasn't making enough noise to warn bears, either.

Well, after finding all of this, I decided to be utterly silly and typed “Cyclist hit by fruit” into a search engine, certain that nothing could possibly come up. Shows how much I know.

A cyclist is in hospital with eye injuries after he was hit in the face by a tangerine thrown from a passing car in Oxford.

Pc Chris Reilly, based at Cowley police station, said: “This may not seem too serious an incident, but the piece of fruit was travelling at high speed and it has left the cyclist in a lot of pain.

Okay, I’ve been hit by a bottle thrown at me by someone in a car, so I know how something like that feels, but the phrase “the piece of fruit was travelling at high speed” just sounds funny.

What else? How about:

Kangaroo breaks cyclist's arm

A RAMPAGING roo has knocked a beach-bound cyclist off his bike and left him with a broken arm.

Yes, indeed, I couldn't make this stuff up.

Well, it’s a crazy world out there, gang. We have to worry about cars and lightning and fruit and bears (although the bears also apparently have to worry about us) and kangaroos and who knows what else.

Well, I’m still going for a ride.

If you have any stories or comes across anything else this odd, feel free to share.

See you on the road.

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