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STORIES FROM THE ROAD


December 31, 1997

HIT and RUN

I had a pretty good night at the Habitat affiliate's executive director's house in New Orleans, Louisiana. I slept in one of the boy's rooms. In the middle of the night, I woke up a little bit frightened but I found out that there was a cat under the covers by my feet. Before I headed out, Tom, the director, gave me an affiliate t-shirt. I got on the road around 8 a.m.

I rode down St. Charles Blvd. into downtown New Orleans. Since it was on the way to US 90, I decided to walk through the French Quarter to check it out. At the corner of Royal and Toulouse, I caught site of this black lady in a white car trying to get into the traffic going westward on Royal which was one way. I really didn't think much about the car as I started to walk my bike across the intersection.

When I got about three-fourths of the way across the intersection, something crashed into me and the bike and knocked me to the ground. It turns out that the black lady hit me. Instead of getting into the traffic as I had thought, she had sped through the intersection without looking in front of her to see if there was anything there.

The bike and I got pushed down the road for about five feet before the lady stopped. My front panniers flew off the bike. Some tourists ran to me and got me and the bike and my gear off the roadway. Once the lady saw that I was up and looked like I wasn't hurt, she sped off without really seeing if I was hurt. Nobody was able to get the license plate so it was a hit-n-run.

The rear section of the bike got the blunt of the hit. My rear rim was pretty well bent beyond repair. My legs felt that they were scraped up and I had bruises on my right elbow and hip. I hobbled the bike across the street to the nearest pay phone to call Tom to tell him what had happened. I didn't think about going to the police station that was about two blocks back.

Tom came after about a half hour. To be on the safe side, Tom took me to Charity Hospital to be checked out at the emergency room. It was a long wait. Tom offered to take the bike to the bike shop that was just two blocks away from his house. It was also a Specialized dealership. I hoped that the bike would only need to have the rear tire replaced.

The emergency room visit took four hours. Nothing was broken but I was going to be sore for the next couple of days. When Tom came by to pick me up, he told me some bad news. The bike was damaged beyond repair.

It turns out that the frame was bent and cracked. There was nothing that could be done to repair it. This was the second bike that I had lost this year. I had around ten thousand miles on it. In the afternoon, I called up a few people to let them know what had happened and that I was okay.

I was assured that somehow I would get back on the road. The only thing was that it might not be before the middle of next week that any assistance would come through because of the New Year's Day holiday. Tom said not to worry about a place to stay because the bedroom I had used the night before was open for as long as I needed it.




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