I almost died yesterday, while riding my road bike. In fact, as I am typing this slumped over in my chair, I have no idea how I should feel. I don’t know what to think or what to say. Or what to expect from my mind. I should be grateful I wasn’t 10-20 seconds ahead, my slowing down to take in the scenery saved me. Maybe if I tell you what happened, you could help me out.
It was past 6 pm on Wednesday, and I was on a training ride with friends heading up NW Cornell Road. The group had split up a bit and divided by pace, I was eager to tackle the climb up NW 53rd again. Typically less trafficked, I was enjoying the quiet road as I was alone, with two of my riding companions a good 2-3 mins ahead. As I cranked uphill while listening to the sounds of birds chirping (and my heavy breathing) I remember thinking, what an incredibly challenging but beautiful road. (Ironically I first avoided NW 53rd when I moved to Portland, Oregon —a novice then, it was extremely hard and daunting)
At the top of NW 53rd, I make my way onto NW Thompson, continuing the uphill grind. And that’s when shit went completely sideways.
I remember looking ahead and seeing the vehicle coming towards me. It was maybe 40-50 feet away, at a higher than typical speed… as I watched, the driver suddenly lost control of the vehicle — first skidding back and forth, then flipping.
If you’ve ever ridden NW Thompson, you already know, there isn’t a shoulder. Apparently luck was on my side, as I was in the midst of passing a steep, long driveway directly to my right. Without thinking, I hop my bike onto it, pedaling up it as if I wasn’t already tired, with fresh legs.
Elevation was my only saving grace in this moment. From the corner of my eye, I see the car flip. Not once, but 4 times, eventually stopping 15 feet from the driveway.
I SCREAM FOR HELP.
In shock, I turn around and ride back down the driveway, then stopped the next vehicle driving up NW Thompson behind me — they call 911. I then make my way to the car, which is now lying upside down just off the pavement.
In thought to myself, I’m wondering — did this person(s) survive?
A few moments later, a young woman (hard to tell her age, anywhere between 17-19) crawls out the passenger side. To my eyes, she appears okay with nothing visibly wrong; she’s hysterically screaming, “OH MY GOD!“
I ask her if she’s alone, she says yes. I then proceeded to pull out my phone and film her as I believe she was either texting or reaching for something while driving. The car skidding was a reaction to her not paying attention.
By this point, several cars had stopped. As passersbys arrive, I tell everyone, she’s okay, she’s by herself, 911 was called and she NEARLY KILLED ME. I too, am completely freaked out. My emotions are flying, from extreme fear to concern to extreme anger.
Emotionally a wreck, I left the scene once I heard the sirens. I’m in the midst of a silent meltdown, and I need to find my riding partners. I continue, shaking and crying as I pedal uphill to regroup. Once I’m back with my friends, another cyclist rides by and asked, ‘did you see that car flip’? Yes, I said, I witnessed it.
I am lucky or unlucky depending on who you ask. He then proceeds to tell us that this is the 3rd car crash in the area in the last month. Drivers are speeding without any concern to cyclists. This concerns me even more.
Later I reported what I saw and shared my video. I cannot hide in fear and not ride my bike, but I can make more people aware and hope that maybe law enforcement will enforce speed and start ticketing. In the meantime, I am still feeling a bit traumatized. I need to take a break from riding my road bike. Every car engine I heard afterward made me want to crawl out of my skin, and I was incapable of riding with any speed downhill.
So, you tell me:
Why do I not feel like I just witnessed a miracle?