When members of the Hastings Fire Department and employees of Erik's Bike Shop saw the bicycle Sue Bezdicek was riding when she got hit by a truck, they all had the same reaction: "Sue, you shouldn't be alive."
It's not every day someone tells you that.
"It's very surreal," Bezdicek said. "It's like you're not even in this life."
Amazingly, after being rear-ended on her bicycle by a vehicle going more than 50 mph, Bezdicek didn't have a single broken bone in her body.
"They had me in the hospital for six hours doing x-rays, but they never found a broken bone," she said. "The doctor was pushing on my spine saying, 'Does it hurt here? Does it hurt here?'"
Bezdicek's answer to those questions was "No." Aside from being badly scraped on her back and other places on her body, she didn't sustain any permanent injuries from the accident. She said at the moment she was hit, "God took control."
"The guys at Erik's (Bike Shop) said my bike and helmet took the brunt and saved my life," Bezdicek said. "They say that, but I say it's God."
Bezdicek isn't your occasional, recreational bicyclist. She competes in marathons and triathlons and has to train hard to get ready for them. She works out nearly every day of the week.
"Some people run on coffee; I run on endorphins," she said.
She can't train on the city's bike paths because it's just not safe. She travels at upwards of 20 mph on her bike, which is much faster than most people are going on the paths. So, she hits the area's roads to train.
She said she's afraid to ride with traffic on the roads, and for good reason. She and her husband have had to jump off their bikes into a ditch when a car came too close to them on the shoulder, and her husband has smacked the hood of a vehicle as it zoomed by them to alert the driver of their presence.
"I have a lot to live for, and I want cars to see me," she said. "I would ride with traffic if I thought people would see me."
Instead, she rides against traffic on the shoulder, and she was doing just that May 17 on Nicolai Avenue south of Hastings. She was approaching a hill where drivers that would have been coming toward her wouldn't have been able to see her, so she crossed the street to the eastbound shoulder to head with traffic.
She looked back and saw a vehicle approaching her from behind and noticed there wasn't a lot of shoulder room for her around the spot the vehicle was likely to pass her. So, to get completely out of the vehicle's way, she crossed the street again and began riding about two feet into the westbound lane of traffic.
"I remember thinking, 'Man that car sounds loud; it must be really close,' and just as I did that, I got hit," Bezdicek said. "It was like this surreal, out of body experience of, 'Dear Lord, she's hitting me.'
"Then I remember lying on the ground and looking down and looking for my legs. You don't understand how scary that is."
Bezdicek said she thinks the driver of the vehicle saw her on the eastbound shoulder but didn't notice that she had changed lanes into the westbound lane of traffic.
The woman who hit Bezdicek stopped, got out of her vehicle and called 911. A young couple whose home the accident happened in front of also came outside to help.
The Hastings Fire Department couldn't get a clear description of where the accident occurred, so they sent crews up Nicolai Avenue from both directions to try to find the spot as quickly as possible. Bezdicek's husband is a member of the fire department, but she said members of the fire department didn't know it was her when the call came in.
"They would have done that for anybody," she said. "I can't say enough amazing things about the fire department."
Today, Bezdicek is almost completely healed. She still has some lower back pain, and there will be some permanent scars as a result of the accident, but she's not planning on slowing down.
"I will never stop living my life the way I want to live it," she said. "Will I change my hobby and start knitting? Probably not."
Bezdicek wants to get the word around to drivers to keep an eye out for bicyclists so accidents like hers can be avoided in the future.
She said one of the biggest things drivers should remember is that when they pull up to a stop sign or traffic light to take a right, don't only look to the left for oncoming vehicles; look to the right, too, for pedestrians or bicyclists.
Hastings is home to a lot of great athletes, Bezdicek said, but also it seems to her, a lot of absent-minded drivers.
"It's just amazing to me that in Hastings, (drivers) aren't more aware," she said.
Hastings Police Chief Mike McMenomy said car versus bicycle accidents aren't a major problem in Hastings, but that when they do occur, it's usually the result of a driver or bicyclist not yielding or not following traffic signals.
He said the issue is a two-way street, because while it's important for drivers to watch out and share the road with bicyclists, it's also important for bicyclists to remember that they have to follow all the rules of the road that drivers have to follow, like stopping at stop signs, which is something that rarely happens, McMenomy said.
To avoid accidents, McMenomy said both groups should remember to follow the rules.
According to Share the Road, a Minnesota Department of Transportation bicycle safety campaign, 908 bicyclists were injured and eight were killed in 2006 as a result of collisions with vehicles.
Of those, 308 occurred when the bicyclist was riding with traffic, as opposed to 81 when riding against traffic. Still, Minnesota law says bicyclists should ride on the street, with traffic.