Recently I was riding on a path and ahead of me was a small bank of flood-deposited sand and gravel. It looked pretty solid, so I thought I could coast gently over it and be fine.
Plunk! and a scraped-up knee, bleeding down my shin as I plodded on to work. “Lesson learned!” I thought to myself. “Unless you have big, fat tires, that’s not the terrain for you.” So at the expense of a little flesh I became a wiser bicyclist.
Yesterday morning I was riding calmly through a little park. Many people walk their dogs on those paths, and I like to give dogs plenty of space when I come up behind them. It’s not fair to the dog to expect them to just step calmly aside when startled from behind. So when the human walking a pretty bulldog didn’t respond to my bell, I did what I often do: I left the sidewalk and circled around on the grass. I made a point of giving him a cheery “Good morning!” as I slogged through the lush lawn.
Only, this particular time, the deep green hid the fact that the step back up to the pavement was rather high. I hit it at too soft an angle, didn’t hop with my front tire, and spilled over the handlebars and onto the pavement. Plunk!
My OTHER knee is now scraped up, and I have a nasty contusion on my thigh where it hit the headlight attached to my handlebars. Lesson learned: Always assume that transition will be dangerous unless handled properly. So at the expense of a little flesh I am now a wiser bicyclist.
I just hope I reach the end of the syllabus soon.
Let’s start with the guy driving the faded red pickup truck, tires caked with mud, a skull wearing a german helmet adorning the back window, mariachi music blasting into the heavy traffic. You know who you are.
You went out of your way to make my journey home safer — not once, but twice, protecting me not only from yourself but from other assholes as well. The world needs more folks like you.
As for the minivan driver and the woman driving the beat-up sedan, I’d like to thank you as well. Also the woman who waved me through the four-way stop.
Toward the end of my ride I realized how out of shape I was when I started hallucinating. I could have sworn the guy who slowed down way before he needed to, specifically to give me a safe space to pass a moving van parked in the bike lane some distance ahead, and who leaned over to make eye contact with me and wave me ahead, a kind and courteous gentleman, was driving a big, shiny, new BMW.
But that’s just not possible, is it?
Still, hallucinations aside, it was a good ride home, and I’d like to thank all the courteous drivers out there who made it happen. I hope to see you all again soon.
This morning I rode my bike to work for the first time in a good long while. To commemorate the event, I thought I’d give the ride a special name in Strava, one of the apps* I use to track my pedaling. The default name for rides in the morning is, remarkably, “Morning Ride”, but this seemed more significant than that. As I rode through the graveyard, appreciating only peripherally the mist clinging to the ground as I huffed along rather slowly, I thought “Back in the Saddle” might be a good title.
By the time I was pulling my sorry ass up Willow, I had changed my tune a bit. “It’s like starting over,” I hummed, as it seemed I was in no better shape than I had been when I first bought the bike. Somewhere along Los Gatos Creek Trail the title changed again, to “Holy Crap”, and a few miles later on Prospect it was “Oh God Oh God it hurts make it stop.”
By the time I turned onto the benign stretch of Miller Ave. heading north, the name had been simplified to a nice concise “F***”. (I figured Strava wasn’t a place to go saying things like “fuck” where just anyone might see it.)
And now, were you to go to Strava and look me up, you would see my effort this morning is called “Morning Ride.”
*Yes, one of the apps. It’s a long story, the rough draft of which is already in the system.
Fortunately I planned ahead and started stretching the Miata’s top last night — it had been down so long that it had forgotten what up was like. Then on the commute this morning: Thunder! Lightning! (Not necessarily in that order!)
California freeway in the rain? This isn’t So-Cal but the rain still makes already-awful traffic awfuller. Except this morning was the lightest traffic I’ve experienced in weeks, with drivers showing a little extra courtesy I’ve long since given up expecting. Go figure.
Tomorrow back on the bike, but welcome, rain. Don’t be a stranger.