Meet Ben Rabin, The Bike Lawyer
Lawyer Ben Rabin and Dino, We Will Fight for You
Lawyer Ben Rabin on Bike

Crashes that cause property damage or injuries happen for many reasons. The Courts call the reason for the crash the “proximate cause” and sometimes there is more than one.  This can be true whether you are an injured pedestrian, driver, or bicyclist. An example of this can be found in one recent case from New York City, where a bicyclist was able to pursue his case against two car drivers, including one who was not even directly physically involved in the accident.  The cyclist successfully argued that the drivers of two different cars may have both been a proximate cause of the crash that ultimately injured the bicyclist. The multitude of different potential causes and at-fault parties in a bicycle accident is just another of the many reasons why you should get an experienced New York bicycle accident attorney working on your behalf as soon as possible.

The plaintiff in the case was a man who was bicycling in Manhattan on the morning of Sept. 3, 2014. According to the bicyclist, he was heading north on Lafayette Street and attempting to cross the 9th Street intersection when things became complicated. The bicyclist said that he was initially inside the designated bike lane when he entered the intersection, but he had to depart the bike lane because a vehicle driven by Defendant Kostadinov was backing up in reverse against the flow of one-way traffic on 9th, leaving the bicyclist facing a bike lane blocked by Kostadinov’s vehicle. The bicyclist steered out of the bicycle lane and, at that point, was involved in a collision with a vehicle driven by Defendant Karczewski.

The injured bicyclist brought a negligence lawsuit against both drivers. Sometimes, as was the case here, an injured cyclist can present the claim that multiple drivers caused the crash in question. This bicyclist pursued his case against Kostadinov, even though he was not part of the collision, based on the claim that Kostadinov was traveling in reverse against the one-way flow of traffic on 9th Street, and against Karczewski for crashing into the plaintiff.

So I was at the pool recently (where else would I be?) and as I was standing in the shallow end, panting between hard sets, wishing I was getting a root canal or passing a kidney stone instead of swimming, I noticed the swimmer in the lane next to me.  Clearly not in hard-core athlete shape, clearly not a mechanically trained swimmer, she was going SLOW.   As I struggled to catch my breath, I thought about how nice it would be to just swim, SLOWLY, without focusing on all the cadence/catchup/finger-drag/rotation/plane/bunny foo foo/smergifiller crap that I have to try and focus on while at the same time swimming at speeds like Jaws is tracking me down.

A few minutes later, she was done and politely asked if she can cross my lane while I’m waiting for the clock (yes, that magic clock at the Y.   You know it – the one that changes speed depending on whether you are resting between sets [when it is much faster] or when you have to swim for a certain time period [when it just drags]. Same clocks they had in elementary school).  So I mumbled something like “take your time – I don’t want to do another set anyway. ”  She must have sensed my dedication to something I clearly was not enjoying, the exhausted look of disgust on my face, and also my ridiculous collection of stuff (pull bouy, kick board, written workout in a zip-lock baggie, water bottle) because she asked, with a smile, “Are you training for something?”  I of course am embarrassed by how slow and out of shape I am, so simply said “yeah” while frowning with that “I’m an idiot” expression on my face.   (I generally try not to mention Ironman because, well, most people think I’m a moron for even attempting this, and sometimes I agree with them. )

Without missing a beat, she smiled and says “I’m training for Ironman.  I’m doing the swim in Syracuse as part of a team.”  Still smiling, she turned and headed out of the pool.  And I realized:  she’s REALLY happy to be training for something that looks to me like will be REALLY hard for her.   And here I am, miserable, training for something the I’m REALLY lucky to able to train for.  I’ve got the family support, job flexibility, finances (almost) and the potential to be an Ironman, and I’m actually bitching about it!  What is wrong with me?  (Don’t answer that).

How do you know which of the approximately 1,456,723 kinds of running shoes to buy when you first start out?  It is an important choice, since you will spend HOURS on these things, and if you choose wrong, the consequences range from blisters to injury or worse:  looking bad!  When I started running, I should have listened to what my dad (old school runner – the “run at lunch every day at work, almost BQ without really knowing it” kind) told me to do: don’t start running.  But fortunately I did not listen.  Instead I listened to his backup advice:  go to a running store and get the right shoes.  So, I went to my locally owned running store (Fleet Feet here in Syracuse, which recently was named best running store in the Universe, or something like that).  They asked me a bunch of questions (more in depth than my doctor) and put me on a treadmill with a slow motion video camera to really emphasize how truly awful my form is, and then started bringing out shoes for me.  Eventually, they helped me narrow down the approximately 17 choices, and after more analysis, we picked my first real running shoes.   And they worked fine.  And each time I went back, I’d just get the same thing.  And they still worked fine.  The system was perfect.  As they say: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  So I did not mess with success.

Until I went to Lake Placid to watch (and sign up for) Ironman last summer.  Yeah, I got caught up.  Yeah, Newton shoes were all the rage.  Yeah, they had a booth.  Yeah, they were the coolest things ever.  Yeah, I drank the Kool Aid and I got some.  And that started the most intensive sneaker study ever conducted on the planet.  I’d give you the short version, but since no one reads my blog except my wife and parents, why skip anything boring, when I can give you ALL the boring.  And here it is:

They tell you not to run too far the first time you wear minimal shoes.  So I ran to the end of the driveway, got the mail, and ran back.  It was OK.  Eventually I tried a mile or so.  And it still felt OK.  BUT then I immediately switched to my old shoes and went back out and WOW!  It was like running in cement blocks.  Relatively soft cement blocks (Newtons are not really all that cushioned, and my old ones were) but SO big and heavy.  In comparison, I LOVED the Newtons!

I can’t get away.  My body just won’t go.  I try to run, but my legs go SO slowly that I want to scream at them to MOVE.  My upper body starts to lean back, almost involuntary.  I want to lean forward, to help make myself go forward, but I can’t.  It just won’t go.

I can’t get my feet to grip.  They seem to glide just above solid ground, unable to grab, unable to propel me.  I can’t get away.  I can’t move forward.

My arms feel like something is grabbing them as I helplessly pump them back and forth, trying add SOME momentum to my body.  But they too can’t help me.

I love music.  Listening, playing and even studying music.  I’m the guy at the concert with the scrunched up face, air playing every instrument on stage, sometimes all at once.  My wife can’t stop looking at me instead of the band.   Music is a big part of who I am.  I get emotional from music, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

I also love to exercise to music.  In the old days, when I was an avid weight-lifter (body-builder, actually) I would go to the gym with my bright yellow Sony Walkman cassette player, armed with my special lifting mix tapes (Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots).  I couldn’t lift without it.  Get to the gym and the batteries were dead? I headed home.  No music? No training!  I couldn’t deal with the yapping in my ear, the distractions of people who were there to do things other than train.  And, the music made me work harder.  It psyched me up.  Pushing heavy things around takes motivation, and the music provided it.

So fast forward to recent times.  Now I train armed with my tiny iPod and endless supply of music from my MP3 collection.  I can have my music any time I want.  Running, biking (only one ear if outside of course) and yes, swimming (see my last post) all are supported by tunes.  Empire Marathon?  I did my leg of the relay with Eminem, Janet Jackson, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jay-Z.  It helps!  And I know it.  So I bring music with me when I train or race.  EXCEPT AT IRONMAN!  That’s right folks: Ironman does not allow music.  At all.  Not even on the run.   The longest, hardest day of my life, and I’ll have to do the whole thing with only my own thoughts to keep me company.  Scary, right?  So the big question is:  has anyone actually broken the rules and brought music to an Ironman?  And if so, are they horrible people?  Now, I’ve read hours of discussions about this, and there are clearly two lines of thought if we assume we are only talking about the run, and there are no safety issues:  1)  Cheating is cheating.  If you are not supposed to do it, then you should not.  The rules are there for a reason.  It is an unfair advantage for the person with music.  OR  2)  For us 14-hour-plus age groupers, who cares?  Music will not add glycogen or muscle mass or any other physical thing that will help.  140.6 is 140.6 no matter what you are listening to.  Music is not like not EPO for cyrin’ out loud!

WATER PROOF HEADPHONES

Let’s face it – there is not much you can do while swimming.  No talking, no sightseeing, no playing endlessly with random electronic training aids.   And, if you are training to swim for a race longer than 20 feet, you’ve got some boring hours ahead of you.  Solutions? I’ve tried many.

Singing– First, my singing is awful and bothers even me.  Second, if you do this in an open water environment, you risk attracting previously unknown forms of marine wildlife.  Third, the people swimming past think you have gone off the deep end (yes, intentional pun).

Men and woman are just plain different.  At least, based on observations, that’s what I’ve come to realize is the case in my world.  Now, I’m not saying one is better – just that things get done in a very different way sometimes.  For example, my wife and her friends are training for stuff.  My friends and I are training for stuff too (including Ironman Lake Placid 2013!).  So, my wife and I both occasionally put together some kind of group training run or ride.  In the interests of remaining scientific, I will not say which of the following electronic “conversations” is from men and which is from women.  The reader can make deductions.  But it doesn’t matter.  The point is that we are different, right?

So, here is the “conversation” that followed 2 electronic invitations, one by me and one by the wife, to our friends in hopes of getting a training group together.  I will abbreviate the names to protect the identities of the innocent and to keep this scientifically sterile.

R is for Rabin, and then the people invited are assigned letters and numbers, beginning with A or 1.

Perspective : a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view (Apple dictionary)

It is amazing what perspective can do.  It can take a identical object or situation and make the observer or participant feel completely different about it.  Some perspective is just visual – my kids are always asking me why the moon follows us in the car.  I’m left trying to explain perspective.  But some perspective is more of an experience, like when one of my kids thinks some particular activity is silly, and pokes fun a sibling for doing it UNTIL that child tries himself, and then suddenly realizes it is hard or scary and now has respect for the sibling.  Perspective.

Training is the same way.  I’ve only been doing this swim/bike/run stuff for a few years.  Before that, it was organized sports and body building (or as my dad would describe it: “going to the room with heavy objects and picking them up, then putting them back down in the same spot, over and over again”)  So when I began training for my first event (Tough Mudder a few years ago) running 2 miles was a milestone for me.  I felt like I accomplished something, and getting to 3 or 4 miles was huge, and sometimes I’d cheat and quit just short of my 3 or 4 mile goal.  NOW due to injury and training schedule, I’m supposed to run ONLY two miles.   And I still cheat.  But I run FURTHER.  Because I hate stopping after two!!  I’m just getting warmed up!!  Perspective, right?

I’m doing a hard workout in the pool the other day, and feeling good about myself.  I feel like I’m becoming an athlete, like I’m almost competitive, like I’m starting to get . . .fast?  Towards the end, I’m doing 10×100 every 2 minutes (I swim 100 yards, and leave every 2 minutes.  100 takes 1:55?  Then I get 5 seconds rest).  Next to me a middle aged woman climbs into the pool.  I’m too hurried (hey, I’m becoming a real athlete here) to stop and talk to her, so I give her the knowing nod – “sure, we can share the lane” and then I take off for #2 of 10.  I finish 2, and she’s still in there, now talking to her friend. I have a life.  A job.  And training to do.  I’m turning into an athlete.  I take off again.  1:50 later, she’s still there, talking.  I’m training.  I will be an Ironman!  3, 4, and 5, and she’s still there talking.  And I’m working.  An athlete.  Training hard.  7 and 8 come and go in a furious splash of speed and effort.  Almost done!  The full workout.  No quitting, no cutting corners.  Its not what we athletes do.  Waiting on the wall between 9 and 10 I hear her say “I guess I’d better warm up” to her friend.  Whatever.  I’m leaving for my last set, because I came here to work, and I’m a real athlete.  As I’m pushing off the wall, I notice that she’s just reaching to put her goggles on.  Ha.  What’s she going to do – 1 lap and then go back to talking?  I push it hard, since it is my last one.

She passed me before I even got the end of the first length.  Like I was going backwards.  During her warmup.  When I had a 10 yard head start.  I’m glad I have a job and my family likes me, because this athlete thing . . . .

 

I have been injured a whole bunch lately.  And I want to get hurt while training or racing.  No, wait: let me rephrase that.  I wish my injuries were from training or racing.  That would be an indication that I was really pushing it.  Nope.  Instead, I keep getting hurt doing nothing.

First, know this:  I am not prone to injury.  I played rugby for two years and while I experienced a whole bunch of pain, I never got “injured” playing.  I played years of lacrosse, both indoors and out.  Despite having large men smash me with long metal poles repeatedly, I did not get injured.  Thirty years of dirtbikes and motorcycles, and only one small scar.  I was a teenage boy, and then a young (man many years ago) and despite doing all of the stupid things that I will not mention because the statute of limitations has not yet expired, I did not get injured.

I have now been a competitive (in my mind – recreational to others’) athlete for a few years and have been training and racing really hard, including three Tough Mudders and an Ironman 70.3.   I have also had a slew of injuries.  The strange thing is, those two things are unrelated.