The 1997 Mustang was traveling 40 mph when it hit him as he was riding his bike across a busy Dublin intersection. The car did not skid, did not swerve, did not brake.
The impact sent him smashing into the windshield, bouncing off the car and flying 10 to 15 feet off the ground before landing on the asphalt about 35 feet away.
Some may say it's remarkable he survived the impact. Some may even describe it as a miracle.
After sustaining a broken leg, broken ankle, grade-three concussion, broken neck at vertebrae C6 and shoulder damage, Mark Ballock was back on his bike five months after the Oct. 19, 2010 accident. He completed a 45-mile Tour of Livermore ride the next April, the 100-mile Tour to Cure Diabetes bike ride in May 2011 and made a commitment to teach the valuable lesson of bicycle safety to others.
Those who know this San Ramon artist, avid cyclist, businessman and president and chairman of the San Ramon Arts Foundation know how infectious his warm smile and positive outlook on life are. Maybe those are the secrets to his astonishing recovery.
After spending three days in ICU and a total of 10 days at Eden Hospital, Ballock returned home to continue recovering.
Three surgeries later, Ballock says, "I feel lucky to be alive and to get up to go to work every day. Doctors didn't expect I would ride again," he says, but quickly adds, "I never doubted I would ride again." Why he was so lucky after the accident, Ballock says he really doesn't know.
"I'm alive for a reason," he said and he knew his passion for cycling would be put to work. He immediately started searching for bicycle safely coalitions. His search brought him to the League of American Bicyclists and its mission to promote cyclists' safety. Eighteen months later, Ballock was a Certified League Safety Instructor. Today, as part of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition in Alameda County, he teaches bicycle safety classes free to the public. The classes are funded with transportation funds from Measure B. To date, Contra Costa County does not have funding for such classes.
"I want to change the bike culture through education," he vows. That means sharing his personal experience, knowing his material and bringing visuals such as his shattered helmet from his accident.
"Share the road," he says. "Drivers of vehicles need to understand we (cyclists) have the right to be on the road." Cyclists, as well, have to follow the rules of the road just like other vehicles, ride single-file, wear high-visibility clothing and properly fitted helmets.
Here in San Ramon, Ballock is also a member of the Traffic Advisory Committee where he works to find safe ways to get across town on a bike.
Teaching about three classes of about two dozen cyclists a month is challenging, says Bullock. Many of his students are there voluntarily, while others have received tickets for various violations, including riding through the UC Berkeley campus.
"It's hard to make this subject interesting and fun," but he adds, he involves the class and encourages conversations about safety issues, commuting tips, bike lane use and the vehicle code.
"I certainly get satisfaction that I may help someone understand" the importance of safety rules," says Ballock. "I get personal satisfaction to give back to the community in a way that is meaningful to me."
The father of three grown children and grandfather to three boys and one girl, Ballock says his goal is to live to be100 years old.
"I have a stiff neck and a little discomfort, but it's not keeping me from anything I want to do," he said with a broad smile.
He will teach a safety class Dec. 1 from 12:30 to 3:30 at St. Philip Lutheran Church in Dublin. For more safety tips and information about safety classes, visit www.theoldspokes.com.
Contact Monica Lander at firstname.lastname@example.org.