When I realized the car that had turned right at me was not slowing down, I tried to speed up, but the camping gear I carried on my 10-speed weighed it down and I was unable to get out of the way. The car hit me broadside and the impact launched me over the handlebars: I did a somersault in mid-flight, the top of my head just glanced the pavement, and I landed on both feet in a deep crouch. I stood up, stunned that I wasn’t injured aside from a road rash on my left elbow. My bicycle didn’t fare as well. The rear wheel was badly bent, and the left crank arm was pushed to the opposite side of the frame so that both pedals were on its right side. Somehow my left foot had come free of the toe clip and strap and my leg wasn’t broken. I ran after the car, which had stopped a few dozen yards away.

Photographs by the author

On the approach to Salt Lake City, Jim (seen here) and I had to endure a hot, 40-mile stretch of road across the Great Salt Lake Desert.

On August 1, 1977, my best friend Jim and I started riding from our hometown, Edmonds, Washington, headed for the Grand Canyon. We rode 800 miles to Salt Lake City and Jim was missing his new girlfriend, Jane. He decided to take a bus home, and I couldn’t blame him. On August 10, I continued south on my own. I’d gone just a few miles and was still within the city limits when the elderly driver with impaired vision ran into me. After my brief suborbital flight over Utah asphalt, I had no idea that the collision would (eventually) lead to my dream job—which I couldn’t even have imagined at that point: working as an editor for WoodenBoat. At the time, I was just happy to be uninjured. The driver paid for a replacement bicycle and, two days later, I was back on the road and pedaled another 1,400 miles before arriving back home. That was my last bicycle tour.

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