Confident, the index and middle finger on my right hand began to squeeze the brake lever trigger. It would send my rear wheel skidding out to the right at 25mph. My left knee augered away from my bike to take the initial impact of my left hip, hand and handlebars hitting the rain soaked oily pavement. Coming down the Gilbert Avenue hill into downtown Cincinnati I judged I had about a two foot ceiling and a 10-12 foot gap to shoot between the wheels and under an energy company bucket truck. I think I would’ve made it. Then it stopped.
|Not The Exact Bucket Truck, But You Get The Idea|
I tacked right and skirted around the front bumper, the truck jutting two-thirds of the way into my lane. I looked back at the driver. His window was down, bare arm on the frame. We locked eyes. It’s at these moments you wish you had something clever to say, something like, “What the F*** Bucket Head!” Like Peter Sagan contesting a sprint infraction, the back of my Italian left hand leaped into the air toward the driver and the only quip my mouth could muster was “Dooooood!” So I’m only a quarter Italian.
As I was coming down the hill in the left lane to make the left turn at the light only 150 meters away, the bucket truck was coming up on the other side of the median then made a sudden U-turn midway into my path to the light. Had my bike rolled 20-25 feet closer I know I would’ve squeezed that lever. At 25mph, a bike travels 36.6 feet per second. Looking back, I estimate I had a little more than a half second to waffle on the option of grabbing a fist full of brake and taking myself human bowling.
The light was red. I slowed to a stop in the left hand turn lane. The truck pulled up in the far right. With no one else at the intersection, he could’ve quickly turned and drove away, but he stopped for me. His eyes were wide, visibly shaken. He shouted sincerely out the window, “Sorry. My bad.” I half smiled. Considering my stupidity for riding too fast for conditions, I waved him off saying, “It’s all good,” and turned back up the hill for my 5th hill repeat.