There were ten of us I think, cycling two abreast in a reasonably tight group along a country road that was nearly too wide to qualify as a lane.
We’d been making steady progress for about 30 miles, trying to ignore the dense mist and relentless drizzle. Everyone was soaked through but we were happy enough because it must have been 19 or 20 degrees.
The roads were surprisingly slippery though – I saw skinny back wheels slide out several times, only to be caught just in time by jolted riders.
I was half way back from the leaders with a rider on my inside. As we approached a corner I spotted a silver Astra coming towards us. He was going way too fast.
Just as he hit the apex of the bend we were already halfway round, he hit the brakes hard and lost control of the back end of the car. It was a dreadful piece of driving really – panic braking at the worst possible moment.
Time slowed to an adrenaline-stretched crawl as the back of the car swung around and came towards us. I remember thinking it was going to miss me by not very much, but that the riders behind me might be in trouble. I watched the skidding car quite coolly, preparing to take evasive action in case my initial assessment proved wrong.
Somehow the sliding car missed everyone. The riders at the back can’t have been more than a couple of feet from its wagging behind. We all came to a wobbly halt and watched as the Astra juddered sideways around the corner before slamming into the knee-high grassy bank fifty feet up the road.
I started moving towards the car to check the driver was okay but when I was still ten or more feet away he backed away from the bank and drove off, clearly still in a bit of a hurry.
We shook our heads, raised our eyebrows and compared stories on what had just happened before riding off, just a little more carefully than before.
As we rode on the shock started to wear off a little and normal thinking processes took over. It was only then I realised how close we’d come to adding to those awful statistics.
Another two or three feet of road space is all he would have needed to take at least half of us out. And that could have been it. Scary really…