Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Cautionary Tale for your Bicycling BloomingtonGirl

Greetings Loyal Readers on this dark and rainy night.  Just got finished watching the season premiere of Boardwalk Empire.  What a visually gorgeous show with conflicted and interesting characters.  I just love love love it.  In a little bit, I'm going to snug into bed, but first, I wanted to share with you a little cautionary tale I was told last week about cycling.
Last Sunday, I was working out at the Y.  I saw a guy who was wearing this very, very fancy neck brace.  I thought, Wow, look at that thing.  Neck braces have really come a long way since I had to wear the foam doughnut around my neck after a car accident over 20 years ago.  I got a little fixated on that fancy brace, how nicely it supported his head and thought, Oh!  That looks relaxing. I'd sort of like to have my head held up for me right now.  I could almost imagine how restful it would be.  (Yes, I know.  It was a strange flight of fancy, but I am simply reporting it without judgement of the whims of Your BloomingtonGirl.)

My reverie about resting my head in such a fancy brace was shattered when I overheard my brace-wearing friend saying a thing that I never ever like to hear -- that he had been in a cycling accident.

I knew I shouldn't hear any more about it because I like to pretend that crashes happen only on the Tour to those crazy fast riders in that crazy large group (yes I do know what the crazy large group is called, if you must know).  I try hard to ignore anything that might make me nervous about getting on my bike.

And yet, like a moth to a flame,  I couldn't resist seeking him out later to ask him more about it.

"I overheard that you were in a cycling accident.  Was it a road bike?"  (Please, please, say no!  Say, I ran into a tree on a mountain bike!)


I pressed on, hoping to hear what I wanted to hear.  "Please tell me you were doing something really stupid when you crashed."  (Please?)

"Actually, no."

And he went on to tell me that he was on a wonderful ride in Greene County alone, just going along on a  beautiful day enjoying himself.  He was going over a bridge when his wheel (his skinny little road bike wheel, just like my skinny little road bike wheels) got caught in a little groove.  He was going 20 miles an hour when it happened.

"I was going about twenty, which doesn't really feel that fast, you know?"

I agreed because it I never feels like I'm going too fast at that speed.  Thirty is fast (and rare for me). Twenty is not rare and has never made me nervous.

"Well, my wheel caught and I ended up getting thrown right off the bridge.  And, I realized that while twenty on the road doesn't seem that fast, twenty in the air is.  It's really fast."

 He landed on his head, broke four vertebrae and fortunately was able to call 911 on his cell.  He has a steel rod in his head and has been recovering since May.  The fact that he is still fully mobile is a miracle and he knows it.  His face showed no evidence of injury.  If he lost any teeth, he sure has a good dentist.

We talked about whether he'd ride again.  He wasn't sure but thought that if he did, he might get something with slightly fatter tires like a hybrid.  He talked about how it could have been catastrophic but how he was lucky, etc. His attitude was impressive.

I've ridden since, but I find myself being a little more alert, more careful.  I think of him every time I notice that I'm going over twenty and his comment that it's much faster when you're flying in the air.  I know, though, that riding a road bike is dangerous.  I weigh this every time I go out but the sheer joy of doing it (and of course, the calorie burn) outweighs for me the possibility that I might crash or get sideswiped by one of those drivers that clearly have some kind of weird hostility toward cyclists.  They are typically driving large cars and even when they are very VERY able to give you room, they don't give you very much.  It's like they're trying to make some little point in a passive aggressive way, but what they don't' realize is that one false move, slip up on either side and a person could be a goner.  That person being me!  It's nerve wracking.  In case any of them is reading this (and of course they are not, because no Loyal Reader would do such a thing)...STOP IT RIGHT NOW!

 People ask why not ride on the shoulder so you don't have this problem?  Thank you for asking!  Most of the routes I bike have either no shoulder or very limited and intermittent ones. If you ride on the shoulder and it ends while a car is passing you, you've got nowhere to go.

Okay, enough about all that.  My blood is starting to simmer and that is not a good thing before bed.

In nicer news, I made biscotti (again!) today.  Whole wheat with oats, dried cherries & almonds.  Substituted flax oil for butter and they still came out great.  Yes.  I'm an addict.  See why I can't give up cycling?  Do you understand how fat I would be? Really, really FAT.  I'm not willing to give up baking these days so a-biking I must go.

Well, Loyal Readers, I wish you a good and gentle night's sleep.  I am looking forward to my own.

1 comment:

PT said...

There are so many jerk bike riders (I can say this b/c i do ride a bike) who think they are a motor vehicle and ride in the middle of the road or burn through red lights or ride on sidewalks then have the gall to take offense at someone like me who upbraids them for jerky bikey behavior. My point is that these obnoxious drivers may have just had an encounter with on of these above types and is taking vigilante justice on undeserving cyclists. They would apologize profusely, beg for forgiveness and offer to begin anger management classes if they discovered they were endangering the well-being of the one and only Bloomington Girl.