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I’m fortunate I can try to contemplate why a driver would knock me off my bike: Davide Rebellin didn’t get that chance

After she was hit by a driver who didn't stop just days ago, the news of Rebellin's death was especially pertinent for reviewer Emma Silversides

Since Sunday, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to ask myself, ‘why?’… Why did he enter the roundabout in the right-hand lane to cut in the front of me and take the first exit? Why didn’t he stop?

How can I consider myself fortunate when every single breath, bend, lift or reach induces a searing pain in my rib cage? What makes me fortunate is that I can actually move to induce the pain and have the senses to feel.

I read the news about Davide Rebellin last night and felt another wave of nausea, like the ones I felt on Sunday sat in the ambulance, waiting in A&E, lying in bed back home in the early hours of Monday…

I’ve been unlucky enough to be knocked off my bike (by cars) three times in the last two years. In the first two cases the drivers stopped. They put their hands up and admitted fault. In both cases, the excuse ‘I didn’t see you’ was cited. With witnesses these drivers had very little wriggle room. I felt that in both circumstances, ‘I didn’t look’ would have been a more appropriate statement, but who would want to admit that? What is now clear, at least to me, is that their admission of fault helped me process things, just a little.

On Sunday I was out testing a high vis jersey from Pactimo. It was a bright day and the vehicle came up behind me to pass me on my right. That the driver saw me before they hit me is unquestionable. That they saw me as they hit me or after they hit me is, on the other hand, questionable. Were they following a sat-nav that had guided them to the right lane, to then turn left? Did they have music on so loud that they didn’t hear the front end of my bike hit the back end of their car? Did they bother to look in the mirrors as they left the roundabout to observe that the cyclist they’d just driven round was on the floor in a heap? I guess the overarching question here is: was this an act of maliciousness or sheer incompetence and negligence?

I am fortunate to be able to contemplate all of the questions that I have. Davide isn’t. His family and close friends have no choice though: the frustration and mental trauma is all theirs.

> Emma Silversides: I was knocked off my bike by a driver… and faced more than just a physical battle

Despite contemplation, I haven’t been able to answer any of my questions and it’s unlikely I ever will. Despite witnesses stopping no one got a registration, make or model. Contact with the local council has ascertained that there is no CCTV on the roundabout. No one with a dash cam stopped. Do I have a camera on my bike? No. I will sadly admit that now I feel the need to get one though.

My non-cycling friends are asking the obvious question, obvious to them at least: You’ll be stopping riding now, won’t you? I give the obvious cyclists’ answer.

I know I’ll get back on the road to realise that my confidence, just like my ribs and elbow, has taken a good hiding and will take time to recover.

Whether it was malicious or just sheer incompetence, I still consider myself fortunate to be asking questions and feeling the pain that I am feeling.

Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling. 

After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing. 

Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…

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