Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Close Encounters

To the tune of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer:

VelociPete got run over by a snowplow,
biking his way to work on Tuesday morn.
Fortunately there's a happy ending,
I escaped without my pants getting torn.


Yes, I was really reaching for that last rhyme. I never claimed to be a poet. Or a lyricist. Or talented in any way. And to even get there you're forced to pronounce fortunately in that single-syllable "for-tu-nate-ly" way, otherwise the rhyme scheme falls apart completely. But I digress.

As mentioned yesterday, some kind soul was plowing the Highway 55 bridge. The spotter call came in around 3:00. This morning as I rode onto the bridge I saw that the plow job had sprawled through the rest of the afternoon and into the next morning. There was a huge Kubota tractor blocking almost the entire bridge path. What I couldn't see at the time was that a single path had been plowed yesterday, but the north side of the path was still covered in a foot or more of snow.

I stopped my bike about 10-15 feet behind the tractor and started considering my options. I could lift my bike over the concrete barrier and ride out on the shoulder of the highway. I've done it before when the path hasn't been plowed. I also thought there would be room to squeeze by the tractor on the left, but just barely. And really only if I walked the bike. It was just too tight. In order to do that I'd have to figure out a way to get the driver's attention. And since I was facing the rear of the tractor I guessed that that would be more difficult than it would seem. I would later be proved correct.

As I watched, the driver backed up a couple feet and started to move the plow attachment up and down. It looked like he was trying to knock some ice loose. Or perhaps the chute was plugged and he was trying to unclog it. Either way, I certainly wasn't ready for him to decide to start backing up further. The earlier backup placed me about 10 feet from the rear of this thing, and the distance was closing. Closing extremely slowly, true. Snowplowing machinery doesn't move at warp speed. But I was running out of time.

I could see the operator's head moving side to side, checking his mirrors. I waved. He kept coming. I waved more. He kept coming. I started sliding myself toward the concrete barrier. He kept coming. I hollered at him. His rear wheel pushed past my bike and started pushing it and me toward the barrier. By this point I was close enough that I could reach out and smack the glass on his cab. That, thankfully, got his attention. He stopped the tractor. I looked over my shoulder and my left-side pannier was pressed against the barrier. My right-side pedal was touching his wheel. Absolutely nowhere to go.

At this point he opened the door about 6 inches. He couldn't open it any further, because I was in the way. At first he thought I was trying to ride around him, but I cleared up that misconception. He was very apologetic for not seeing me. I thanked him for being out there and plowing the bridge, and then I inched my way around him and continued on to work. Next time, I'm gonna throw a snowball at the cab.

Date: February 27
Mileage: 20
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Raleigh
February mileage: 264
Year to date mileage: 583

8 comments:

Nancy said...

And I'm finding out about this on your blog...

Snakebite said...

Look out, looks like someone is officially in trouble!

rigtenzin said...

You almost died. If you go in an untimely way, can I have your Sun Tour equipment?

Eclectchick said...

Whoa - that was a harrowing read! So glad to hear you weren't writing this from your hospital bed in a semi-squished state.

P.S. LIKE the snowball idea. It has an oh-so-delicate whiff of subversion, which is always very appealing.

KM said...

Dibs on the trike,

Doug said...

I'll take the Robin Hood...

Pete said...

Bunch of jackals...

Snakebite said...

Speaking of Robin Hood, I think there's a Robin Hood frame and fenders for sale on ebay right now.....