U.S. ‘crosser in brush with death

Mike Jankwoski

Mike Jankwoski (Image credit: Steve Medcroft)

By Steve Medcroft

Cycling and training for cycling are dangerous enough that most of us constantly aware of our surroundings when we're out on the road. But as New Hampshire Cycling Club racer Mike Jankwoski recently found out when he was sideswiped by a speeding motorcycle during a training ride, no attempt to be safe is a guarantee of a trouble free ride.

Kankowski, 33, or Kerhonkson, New York , was riding in the Catskills when he heard the unmistakable sound of a high-end motorcycle approaching from behind at high speed. "I moved over to the right," he said about the accident. "A split second later I felt something hit my left elbow." That something was a racing-style motorcycle "something like a Suzuki GSXR," Jankowski says.

Jankowski says the next thing he knew he had landed on his hip on a guardrail and fell to the ground. "The portion of road I was on is a long, sweeping left turn followed by a straight, then a sharp left and a stop sign. By the time I sat up and got my bike off me I heard the sickening thud of metal yielding to solid ground." The rider of the motorcycle had failed to make the turn at the end of the road.

Jankowski says he was passed by a police car moments later, and went over to the accident. The rider was dead by the time he arrived. "I described what happened to me and what I heard (to the police). They made me go to the body and what was left of the bike to make sure it was the same guy." Jankowski says the police officers speed recorder showed the motorcycle as traveling greater than 140mph.

The 33 year old B-category ‘cross and Cat 3 road racer rode home but discovered he had fractured his hip in the accident after unusual bruising appeared over the next two days. And although he was happy he only break what he did, the shock of the freak accident temporarily killed his passion for riding. "I've crashed before, many times, been hurt much worse a few times, but this was different."

Jankowski says there were several things to learn from the accident. "One, irresponsible behaviour on the road - no matter what we're piloting - can have disastrous repercussions. Two, anything can happen to us even when we're doing everything right; I was inches from a massive accident."

The shock is now wearing off, the injuries (which may take as long as four to six more weeks to properly heal) are fading and Jankowski is finding his way back to the bike. "I'm just now getting motivation back to train again, after quite a few weeks. I was hoping to go to Colonie , New York this weekend to race (Second Annual Colonie Cyclocross Race, October 23), but my hip is too sore to dismount yet. I'm not sure if I'll even race at all this year but I'm hoping to go to cross Nationals to be a spectator/photographer."

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