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Mike Bannister: Dentist, Bike Collector, Beer Lover, Crash Survivor

Mike Used a Cycliq Video Get Cycling Justice!

One of the simplest, yet most important, ideas that we as cycling advocates try to convey to drivers is that people riding bikes on the roads are actual people with lives and identities apart from just “cyclist.” They are people on bikes. They are wives, husbands, daughters cousins, and uncles, for example. They are also nurses and teachers and plumbers and scientists. If drivers can make that very small jump to seeing cyclists as people, they should start treating them as such. They are also dentists.

Punishment passes (drivers passing cyclists too close or the vehicular version of “chin music”) are the most glaring example of drivers not treating cyclists as people. The dangerous passes endanger even the most experienced cyclists as they leave almost no room for error and the consequences can be lethal.

Bike Law friend Charleston, South Carolina’s Michael Bannister, himself a father, brother, uncle, and dentist, was the victim of a particularly egregious punishment pass near the end of a long, but otherwise uneventful day in the saddle around Charleston, SC. Luckily, his Cycliq Fly12 camera was mounted to his handlebars and captured everything on video. He was able to identify the license plate and the Mount Pleasant Police were able to identify the driver and bring him to justice. It was the first prosecution of an unsafe pass that did not involve contact the municipal court had seen. 

We at Bike Law have partnered with Cycliq because we believe that these cameras can help right the scales of cycling justice, as here.

The driver was allowed to enter into a pretrial intervention program in lieu of a guilty plea or a trial. Both he and the judge learned a bit about the laws protecting cyclists that day. Hopefully, the driver will remember the lessons he is supposed to learn and pass along best practices to everyone he knows. The road is for  all users. We all want to get home safely.

Watch the video and then read on below to learn more about Michael Bannister the person on the bike. 

WARNING: LANGUAGE NSFW


When he is not being harassed by drivers, Michael Bannister has more fun on a bike than anyone you may ever meet. Whether he is suffering through a gravel grinder or cruising with friends on a brewery tour, he makes the most of every pedal stroke. If you ever ride with him, you’ll be treated to his infectious smile, his generous laughter, and probably some well-timed cursing. 

Bannister, as he is known to riding buddies, is a dentist on Daniel Island, SC. His office is filled with rare bikes that he has collected over the years. He rides each one at least one day every year in order to justify their place in his collection. He has a lot of other bikes that get plenty of use through his training, riding with friends and family, or running errands. As he makes the most of his time on two wheels, Mike is the perfect example of living the bike life. 

When it comes to racing bikes, Mike enjoys the coming together of friends for the events more than the actual race itself.  Bringing 16 (or more) people together for a race weekend and cooking for them, sharing beers, laughs, and stories is the highlight of a “race” weekend. 

His enjoyment of all things bike almost came to an end about a year ago when Mike was involved in a crash as he was riding to meet friends for a ride in Charleston, SC. He was hit by a car while riding in the bike lane and suffered serious injuries.

He’s back on the bike, though. Back to smiling, laughing, and “bonking” on occasion. I have been lucky enough to share a lot of good (and some miserable) times with Mike. Recently, I fired off some questions at him so y’all could get to know him a little better.

TF: How long have you been riding bikes? 

MB:  I’ve been riding bikes competitively for 37 years and I use that word “competitively” very loosely.  At different times I have done triathlons, road races, criteriums, cyclocross, mountain biking, gravel races and, strangest of all, Team Race Across America (RAAM). RAAM is the highlight because it was the perfect storm of timing, friends, money and crew that is unlikely to ever happen again. 

Mike at RAAM, Lost in America:

TF: What’s the best thing about riding a bike?

MB: For me the best thing about riding a bike is the freedom to cover distances that I wouldn’t want to do in a car.  The details that you experience are much more personal on a bike than tucked into an automobile.

TF: You had a serious bike crash last year. How did that affect you? What helped?

MB: That incident was my first with a car.  In 37 years I had never really even had a close call.  [The crash] resulted in a concussion, mangled knee and torn fascia in my arm, but no lasting physical injuries. 

As soon as I got my senses about me, I knew exactly who to call. I have lots of lawyer friends that I have called for other things, but in the case of a bike crash I was calling Bike Law. I actually texted Timmy from the ambulance/emergency room. I’m glad I did, because the process was seamless. They took care of getting me a new bike and a good bicycle crash settlement for my injuries.

The surprise was the PTSD that followed a month later.  [Because of the PTSD] I was too nervous to ride. It didn’t feel good to me and I looked for any excuse to avoid it.  When I started gaining weight, there was some depression that followed. All of this was new to me and not welcome. After two and a half months I forced it out of my system over a three week period of making myself go on six+ hour rides.  Strangely the PTSD symptoms recurred just as the one year anniversary of the crash approached.

TF: You are also active in the bike advocacy community. Why does that matter?

MB: If you ride a bike, then all aspects of that lifestyle matter; racing, commuting, training, beginner rides, memorial rides, social rides.  Advocacy is just another aspect of that, but it is one that makes it safer for all of us. Charleston Moves’s Katie Zimmerman put it best when she recently asked why the cycling community is so factioned with infighting. “We’re all different, but we’re all on the same team.”

TF: You have a large bike collection? Can you take us through the fleet?

MB: Twenty-eight (28) or so bikes in the collection and I love every one of them with their different nuances.  My favorites seem to be steel road bikes handmade one at a time by craftsmen/artists. Ron Cooper, Spectrum, Moretti, Rock Lobster, Della Santa, Royal H.  There are some classics by Eddy Merckx, Rossin, Guerciotti. I have two bikes ridden by Sean Yates from 1995, [one] in Paris-Roubaix and [the other in] the Tour de France.  I have a not -so-secret addiction to Ibis mountain bikes with five of them [in the collection]. Just for fun there is [also] a road tandem and a mountain tandem. Each one must be ridden once a year to avoid Ebay, so there are rules.

Mike’s Office. Are they tax write-offs?

Bike Collection

TF: Best and worst days on a bike?

MB: My worst day on the bike and my best day on the bike were one day after the other and I was with you.  At 5:00 am on the second day of RAAM in the desert of Arizona with hardly any cellular coverage I found out my father had passed away.  With no details I just shut up and rode my bike. Climbing from the low desert to the high desert was desolate and strange and I didn’t know how to respond.  What I did know was that I was surrounded by my favorite group of friends so that was welcome. When I confirmed that my mom and sisters were doing okay, iI turned my focus back to my part of the race.

My best day on the bike was the next day riding eight hours through Monument Valley [UT].  It is stunningly large and beautiful and 110℉. We raced for most of that time head to head against a team we had obsessed about beating when we were in the mixed division before our female rider and my favorite friend was injured.  With her in our crew, I couldn’t help but feel that we had to win that day for her. Once we put them behind us for good, I found myself at the top of a downhill into Mexican Hat, Utah. The road was in perfect condition, the curves were sweeping and the grade just kept steepening until I was rolling at 63 mph. Perfect day.

TF: Describe Your Fantasy Bike Trip?

MB: My fantasy bike trip is a mountain tour through Italy with Andy Hampsten’s tour group.  I have been a fanboy of his since he first turned professional and have always respected his work ethic, style, talent and attitude.  To spend nine days appreciating his love of Italy while riding bikes with him through beautiful mountains I have seen only in videos of the Tour of Italy has been on my must do list for 20 years.  Hopefully I can make that happen with some close friends in the not too distant future.

Mike’s tip: [If you can’t make it to Italy,] Pisgah Monstercross, Mid Georgia Epic, and the Bootlegger 100 are all “must do” events.

Bannister Monster Cross

 

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