Dear Apple,

My iPhone saved my life.

Okay, that’s a little exaggerated. But it DID save me from considerable injury. Considerable, additional injury.

I’m an avid cyclist. I like to ride, and I ride hard. I ride an American-made Cannondale R500 road bike. I love this bike. It’s very light and very fast. It has classic road wheels and road tires. The tires, in fact, are inflated to 130 pounds per square inch for optimum traction and control on the road. Yeah, the ride can feel a little stiff, but it’s good to feel the road beneath you.

I take my phone with me so my wife or my kids (two children, both in their 20’s) can reach me if I’m out for a ride when they call. I keep the phone in my hip pocket and use the included earphones, but I don’t listen to music while I ride because I believe it’s more important for me to hear the traffic around me than some song that could distract me from what’s more important — safety. And I use only the right earphone so that my left ear is uninhibited to the sounds around me. Finally, I find the in-line ‘clicker’ to be the easiest — and SAFEST — way to answer incoming calls.

In the rural area where I live there’s not too much traffic. On this day, I was just finishing my ride, making the final sprint towards the entrance to my subdivision. The entrance is relatively wide and paved, with a shoulder approach so decelerating traffic can afford other motorists the courtesy of not impeding traffic flow when entering the subdivision. I was decelerating from about 30 mph; I had just glanced down at my speedometer and saw the display change from 27 mph to 25 mph. I began my right turn onto the entrance drive when it happened.

Riding a bike is second-nature to most people. So much so that it’s the source of several clichés. But have you ever realized the complexity involved? Very few people can balance on a bike that isn’t moving, but when put into motion, balance becomes easier. It’s all simple Calculus (the “math of motion”). We instinctively make steering corrections to maintain balance to prevent us from falling over. Making a turn on a bicycle can be described as a ‘controlled fall’: you begin to lean, then follow that lean by steering in a perfect arc so that your turn is executed cleanly, then over-correct at the end so you can return to an upright
position. What’s really amazing is your brain processes all of the related math without you having to give it any thought.

Until something unexpected changes the calculations.

In the instant just before executing my turn, something in the road punctured my front tire. In two places. 130 psi of traction and control were gone in an instant. I immediately went into an uncontrolled fall at 25 mph. Since I had already started my turn, the vertical stability of my bike gave way to momentum and gravity. I hit the pavement hard, sliding about 20 feet before friction brought me to a stop. Suddenly the pavement didn’t feel so good beneath me. I had a nasty abrasion on the outside of my right leg and right forearm, and a very sore right ‘cheek’, which took the brunt of my fall. I stood up as quickly as I could to
take inventory of my faculties to see if I suffered any broken bones. Luckily, I hadn’t.

Once I gathered myself and my bike to the side of the road, I reexamined my injuries. I was somewhat pleased the abrasion on my arm was not as bad as it could have been, saved by the leather-palmed gloves I was wearing for such an occasion (which were now ruined, but a small price to pay for the protection they provided). And my leg could have been worse, too, had it not been saved by my…my iPhone. “Oh no!”, I yelled.

Panic raced through me. Retrieving the iPhone from my pocket immediately revealed the screen had not suffered breakage, so I pressed the ‘Home’ button and the iPhone sprang to life. I was still about a mile from home, so I unlocked the display and immediately pressed the Phone icon so I could call home for assistance. The ringing sound at the other end was music to my ears; the phone still worked!

My wife answered and the clarity in her voice told me the phone was working as engineered. I recounted the event that just took place. I assured her I was okay, but was nonetheless relieved when she insisted that I stay put while she comes to get me. My wife, she’s a wonderful woman; one in a million.

After disconnecting the call, I sat there, staring at this incredible piece of engineering called an iPhone. Hats off to the entire team. I checked a few more applications and found each to be working as they should. Then my heart sank.

Upon turning the iPhone over, it became crystal clear why my leg did not suffer more injury than it had: it was saved by the iPhone. Nestled within my pocket, it was in the exact location needed to spare my leg from most of the friction of a 20 foot, 25-mph-to-zero slide on pavement. The fabric in my shorts protected the back side of the iPhone for a limited distance, until friction wore through the fabric. Then, the iPhone’s back protected my leg for a short distance until it too succumbed to the friction and relocated to another position within my pocket.

Although not quite life-saving, the iPhone not only saved me from additional injury, it also still worked such that I was able to call for help. Unfortunately, the camera lens has been destroyed, and the case is somewhat worse for wear, but it still works, nonetheless.

Kudos to Apple and the iPhone Development Team.