A lot has been made of inconsiderate or downright criminal motorists who maim, “door,” and torment bicyclists in this vast road map of a town we call Los Angeles.
But you hear much less about the peddle-power punks on two wheels who can wreak havoc despite their comparative lack of horsepower.
Ana Beatriz Cholo, a media relations manager at the Milken Family Foundation in Santa Monica, encountered just such a rider in L.A. last month, and her life will never be the same.
It happened Sept. 22 at the intersection of the Braude and Ballona bike paths near Marina Del Rey as Cholo was on her Trek Madone 4.5 carbon racing bike heading south to her home in Manhattan Beach, she said.
A cyclist who was passing slower, right-lane traffic by using the left lane reserved for opposing riders slammed into Cholo head-on, she said.
Her right wrist was crushed between both bikes' handlebars, she said, and she suffered four bone fractures.
Even with her wrist limp and Cholo experiencing “the worst pain I ever felt,” she asked the guy, “Why were you going so fast in my lane?”
She said he had a mumbling, defensive answer and that, as she was lifted into an ambulance by paramedics, he said, “Good luck.”
The rider appeared to be experienced, Cholo said. He wore toe clips and a helmet.
But she never got a chance to get his name, and now she is looking at five-figure hospital bills.
Cholo was in the third week of a new job and planned to commute by bike to Santa Monica three times each week. The other two days of the week she would drive and use the car to pick up her son for shared-custody time.
Now both of those things will be much more difficult, she said. Her car is a stick shift and her hand is not usable. She's looking at a metal plate and seven screws in her wrist, a sling and soon, a cast, Cholo said.
Cholo now takes two buses to work, a 90-minute proposition. She gets home at 8:30 p.m., she said.
But wait, there's more: Because Cholo just started a new job, she won't be able to sign-up for health insurance until open enrollment next month. So her medical bills are all her own.
That's why she started a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe.com—to help defray some of those costs. But people are pitching in more than money. Her hairdresser gave her free hair coloring, she said.
Her boss is also helping out, Cholo said. She bought lunch and a voice-recognition system that lets Cholo do at least some work without typing.
“What's kind of ironic is that cars are scary,” she said. “When you get to the bike path you breathe a sigh of relief: I'm safe. And then this happened. It came as a shock that another cyclist could cause this much damage.”
Cholo said she's not going to call the police or try to hard to find the rider. The experience will not stop her, however, from moving forward.
“I will get back on the bike,” she says.