Accidents do happen on organized rides like Biking Across Kansas. Every incident I hear about serves only to strengthen my faith in the Smart Cycling principles developed by the League of American Bicyclists. Of the three incidents on BAK that I’m aware of, none of them directly involved a motor vehicle.
We stopped in Concordia for lunch and a nap. Refreshed and ready for the final fifteen miles, we headed out of town. We heard sirens somewhere in town. A few minutes later we saw flashing lights behind us. All the cyclists on the road pulled over.
“I hope that’s not one of ours,” Dad said. The ambulance pulled over ahead. My heart sank when I saw they were loading a cyclist into it.
We were somber for several miles, remember another wreck a couple years ago. Dad started nagging me to move closer to the white line. I made him ride in front of me. “Trust me,” I said, “you’ll be happier if you can’t see me.”
A couple other cyclists passed us. “Do you know anything about the accident?” Dad asked. “He wasn’t hit,” they answered. “He just crashed.”
Later we learned that he had hit a pothole. He was treated and released. His head was fine, his helmet cracked.
Every time the BAK organizers exhorted us to ride on the white line, I shuddered. Riding too far to the right is dangerous! Potholes and debris accumulate at the edge. Riding at the far edge encourages motorists to try to squeeze past unsafely.
Another cyclist was treated for dehydration.
On our last long day, I passed a group standing around but I couldn’t see what was going on. I didn’t want to clutter up the road so I didn’t stop. Later, I saw Elena, with bandages on her leg, arm, and head. Pie Dave* had been riding abreast of other cyclists, and tried to pull in front of her because of an approaching semi truck. She had been drafting off him but for a second she took her eyes off his wheel. His rear wheel caught her front wheel and down she went, sprawled in front of the oncoming truck! The truck stopped, as did all the cyclists in the area, and she was immediately surrounded by medics who patched her up.
The fun part was that she insisted it was her own fault while Pie Dave insisted it was all his fault. All I had to do was point to her swollen eye, where her sunglasses had cut her, and say, “Pie Dave made her wreck.” In seconds they’d be arguing. I did that several times.
*So named because I met him on his fruitless quest for pie one night. Don't worry, he found pie another day. Most other days.