We were four bikers riding that summer day. It was a ride over 3 passes in the
Swiss Alps: Gothard=Gottardo (2108 m),
Nufenen=Novena (2478 m) and
Furka (2431 m). Downhill from the Furka
we had to pass a couple of cars. One of them, a black Audi with a licence plate
from Zurich, came to the left when we tried to pass him. $&%@#! The driver was
obviously deeply hurt in his ego: can you imagine driving such an expensive toy
just to be passed by a bike? He got quite crazy but i finally was able to pass
Then i was behind a $&%@#! motorhome. The road made a slight left-and-right turn but i was able to see far enough. There was no traffic uphill and i began to pass this vehicle. I rode about 60 km/h, as everybody involved agreed. The guy hadn't seen me and decided at that moment to cut the slight curve. When he came to the left, i was like in a trap between him and the rocks on the left of the road. I touched both the rocks and his left mirror with my elbow. This put me out of balance and i fell in front of the motorhome.
The next minutes were hard... not for me because i was unconscious, but for my friends who feared the worse. When i slowly came back to myself, i was taken in a car to a place where the helicopter could land. It was the first time i was flying in an helicopter, but i was not able to enjoy it very much. The doctor at the hospital found that i had a slight concusion, bruises and scratches all around. Without a helmet this would sure have been much worse!!! Then they put me to the intensive-care station, just to check that no inner injury would remain undetected. They monitored my heart rate and blood pressure all night long. I had told a nurse to set the minimum heart rate low enough "because i'm a cyclist". 35 per minute would be right. She agreed... but actually entered 40. That's how i set off the alarm the next morning! After two days i was back home and a couple of days later back to work.
Then... i got a fine. The $&%@#! Audi driver was interviewed by the police and you can imagine that he didn't tell much good about me. They charged me of "not enough care about the vehicle being passed". Yes, they did! I asked for further information out of the police file but they refused to tell me anything. If i had a lawyer they would, but to myself: nothing. And they call it a democracy! Because helicopter and hospital would be paid by my accident insurance, i decided not to take a $$$lawyer$$$ and to pay the fine. 80 SFR, plus expenses (130 more).
It's finally the liability insurance of the motorhome which gave me a copy of the file. There i found out what i was looking for: the road was 4.6 m broad at the place of the accident. This means that the motorhome (max. 2.3 m wide) had a least 1.55 m on his right side and not more than 75 cm (my width) on his left. This obviously shows that he did NOT keep his right-hand side as he (and the Audi driver) had told. Despite of this evidence, the insurance refused to pay me more than 30% of the material costs (bike - some 1700 SFR - helmet, short, jersey and gloves).
The main thing, however, is that recovered completely. What did i learn from that story:
- it was not a bad idea to always wear an helmet;
- more than ever, i try to keep in mind that motorhome drivers, like car or truck drivers, often make mistakes; bikers also, but as such i'm weaker;
- laws are made and applied by lawyers, therefore also FOR the lawyers.