Like everyone says, “I never thought it would happen to me!” Two weeks ago I left home for a quick 50 mile bike ride and an hour later I was sitting in the back of an ambulance. I had ridden through the back roads of southeast Wisconsin and cut through a small, quiet neighborhood to avoid riding on a major highway. Less than a block into the neighborhood and guy in a large Ford work truck cut a corner too wide and we nearly had a head-on collision—I headed off into the gravel to avoid the grill of his truck. I yelled at the guy (hereafter known as The Jerk) and he slammed on his brakes, got out of his truck and started yelling at me. The Jerk told me that cyclists have no right to be on the road and that he was sick of them “ruining his neighborhood.” The Jerk was a lot bigger than me and had a face that resembled an armpit. As he was yelling I stood straddling my bike and out of nowhere The Jerk hit me in the chest with both fists—I was knocked off my bike with great force and hit the pavement hard, then rolled back into a side ditch. Even though I was a bit dazed I remember The Jerk yelling, “If I ever see you back in this neighborhood I am going to kill you!”
Fortunately, a woman in the neighborhood saw what happened and called the police and an ambulance—the double punch to the chest knocked the air out of my lungs and I has having trouble breathing. A few minutes later an ambulance showed up along with a couple of great paramedics. While I really didn’t think I needed an ambulance, the paramedics insisted that I get “checked out” anyway. As they were checking my breathing the ambulance driver opened the door and told them to lock it because The Jerk was back. The punches to my chest and the impact of the fall triggered my first asthma attack in over ten years and as the paramedics were asking questions about my health I had trouble answering. It was at that point I was so happy I was wearing my Road ID dog tags. If needed, these tags could give all the needed medical information to the paramedics.
Road ID makes high quality stainless steel identification cards—depending on the style you choose, they can be worn on your wrist, ankle, shoe or around your neck. The information on the cards is laser engraved and this provides a very crisp and easy to read tag. I’ve worn Road ID products for a long time and would never go out for a bike ride without them. At first I used the ID that attaches to your cycling shoes, but about five years ago I switched to the dog tag version. Regardless of which tag your choose, it can be engraved with your basic emergency contact information.
Road ID tags start at around $20, and for only $10 a year you can add emergency response support, i.e., your tag will give paramedics and emergency room personnel a secure Website so they can get access to detailed medical information and emergency contact information for you (for when you cannot give the info yourself). The secure Website gives them as much information as you allow, but I have my health insurance information, allergies, name and address of my family doctor and a list of the medications I take on file.
In case you were wondering about what happened to The Jerk, I will finish the story. When I exited the ambulance I saw two police cars and The Jerk was sitting in the backseat of one of them (in handcuffs). Apparently, he admitted to the police that he hit me and when the cops ran his name they found out he was wanted on an outstanding warrant, so they cuffed him and were going to take him to jail—he could not get bailed out until he appeared before the judge who had issued the warrant.
The cops asked if I wanted to press charges. I would have said yes, but as I was talking to one of the cops The Jerk’s wife arrived (the police called her to take custody of his truck). Believe it or not, I had spoken to this woman back in March when she was teaching her little boy how to ride a bike! Even though she was crying because her husband was being taken away to jail for the outstanding warrant she came over to apologize for his actions.
I told the cops that I did not want to press charges against The Jerk. My reasoning was this: If the idiot had no problem hitting me then I’m sure he wouldn’t have any trouble hitting his wife as well. Since I didn’t want to make her life any more miserable than it probably already was, I decided not to press charges because I thought he would take his anger out on her when he got home. The woman thanked me and then said they had a fight just before he left the house that morning—which explained why he was in such a bad mood to begin with!
One more note: I have not told my wife about this incident yet and I am trying to think of the best time to do it. At the moment it seems like the day after she drops me off at the nursing home would be a good time.