Writing on Riding

Writing on Riding

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live. – Mark Twain

Who Expects to Crash?

I made a poor decision on a recent night ride, and had my second-hardest bicycle crash yet. It definitely was the most sudden, because it was over in the same instant I became aware it was happening.

To help stay in shape between trail rides, I hit the local multi-use paved paths and sidewalks that I can reach easily by pedaling from my front door. If you see me on the road with cars, it’s only at an intersection where doing so makes drivers more comfortable than an unknown quantity zipping across lanes at an unexpected spot.

With so much new construction still going on in this area, I often find myself at the end of a sidewalk, facing 25 to 50 yards of riding over grass before the paved path picks up again. Sometimes these areas feature a trail worn by those walking to their job at a local convenience store or other hourly position. Because I hit my paved rides on a vintage mountain bike, I like a little off-road during those rides as long as the north Texas mud isn’t in force.

On a recent Tuesday lighted night I found myself beside a construction lot with a sidewalk interruption, and noticed green stakes, several inches long, between me and the street. I slowed down a bit, figuring I could see any holes big enough to swallow up my front wheel.

I was riding against the flow of traffic just a few feet away, so I’m sure at least one of the several drivers rushing past noticed my handlebar light.

Maybe one of them saw when that light suddenly stopped moving and shot downward. I smashed into the ground and my bike landed somewhere to my right. I got up quickly. My knees and my hands hurt. I think they caught most of my weight. My gloves had saved the skin on my hands, but both my knees were bleeding.

I always wear pads when riding my mountain bike, but here I was needing them on a paved ride.

My music was still playing and my earbuds were in place. My headlight was still shining. My handlebars were crooked. My levers worked.

I turned and saw that the culprit was a wire running less than a foot off the ground from one of the green stakes, to something on the opposite side of the worn path. I was too concerned about assessing myself and my bike to see exactly what it was.

I was only eight miles into my 21-mile ride, and I felt like I could still go. I was glad I did, in part because I happened upon YouTube sensation DudePerfect headquarters. While stopped in their parking lot for a photo, I met another rider and found out he was there for the same reason I was–staying in shape between mountain bike trail rides.

Now, the second day after the crash, my abs are sore when I sit up. My ribcage on my right side complains when I touch it. The left side of my neck hurts when I turn my head.

Besides a little soreness in my neck, I was fine for my next ride. I was very lucky I landed on the ground and not something construction-related, and that nobody had to haul me out of there. Next time I will not keep riding when I see any hint of construction materials around me.

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