Daniel will appreciate this…
As will James White…
My mother will more than likely hand-wring…

I have been riding a bike regularly to work for about 5 years now. I usually ride Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, depending upon the weather and other conditions. It has been decent exercise for me – something I desperately need.

The trip is 11.4 miles one way. Meaning, if I ride home and do not take the bus (a subject for another blog), I get about 23 miles of riding for a day. The ride takes me about 50-55 minutes going to work, because there is a slight decline in the terrain going to work, and about an hour and 10 minutes coming home because I have to ride at a slight incline.

Our town is pretty good about making it safe for bikers to ride. We have a system of what is called paseo, or what is Spanish for “trail” or “path.” Naming stuff where I live Spanish names, like the bike trail paseos, is a trendy thing to do around here. None the less, developing the paseos is one of the few competent things our local city government does. I can ride alsmost all the way to work with out being in traffic, so to speak.

After a week or more of intense heat, I would ride to work in the morning, but catch the bus home. This past Wednesday, the cooler weather finally gave me an opportunity to ride my bike home in the afternoon after work. I was kind of excited about it, because I hadn’t done it in such a long while. So donning my bright yellow biker jersey with the three pockets along the back and my loose fitting riding drawers, I headed home.

When I get to about half a mile from my home, the paseo veers off to run along side the wash (big dry river bed), and far enough behind and away from my home that I leave it and detour down the main road for more of a straight shot leading into my neighborhood. This is a bit risky, because I have to ride through a rather large and busy intersection, especially around 3 pm. But I cautiously stay way to the right of traffic. This is where I have to be super alert looking around and keeping an eye on nearly every car and the road in front of me.

As you approach the intersection, there is a slight, bit of hill to ride down. I have to use my brakes so as not to go too fast, because on each corner there are grocery stores, gas stations, and other businesses that have people pulling in and out of parking lots. I have to watch for those drivers as well so as not to plow into the side of a car pulling onto the road.

This Wednesday, as I coasted down toward the intersection, there wasn’t a car anywhere to be seen, even on the main street. That was highly unusual during this time of day. As I approached the intersection, I was slowing down to stop and wait for the green light. But, just before I came to the intersection, I noticed up ahead of me a puddle of water pooled up against the curb and a bit onto the edge of the street. My first thought was there was a long crack or hole keeping that water pooled up, which means I could hit the hole and take a tumble. So, as to avoid running through the puddle, I started to turn into the empty street.

Somehow, I must have hit a slick spot where there had previously been water, because the next thing I know, my bike is going one way, and I the other. All I saw were flashes of pavement and asphalt, and then the sensation of searing pain. I actually did a somersault on the street incurring a big red abrasion on my shoulder and a nasty big, deep blue bruise on my inner thigh. That morning, I dumbly left the house without my helmet, and didn’t even realize it until mid-way through my ride to work. Thus, when I biffed it, I hit hair and skin on cement. I will never forget my helmet again. Just a bump, though, nothing major.

I was most certainly thankful there were no cars, because I believe if what happened had happened with cars present, I would had been way more injured, rather than just embarrassingly banged up. I jumped up as quick as my sore body would allow and dragged my bike (which was ok) out of the street. I had to sit on the sidewalk in front of Ralph’s grocery store for a bit to catch my breath and pull myself together.

In addition to having the wind knocked out of me, as well as the severely hurting tookus, I had to endure that crippling humiliation of having done something entirely uncool and stupid in the full view of the public. I am sure there were folks who saw me go down who winced at the site of me flipping off my bike. I personally would like to see a video of it. When I jumped up, my first response was to look around to see who was watching and to give the appearance of being alright.

“I’m good, I’m good.”

I finally limped home on my bike, took a shower, and thankfully I had some of those really good prescription pain pills left over from when I had my operation on my neck. Today, everything seems to be alright, but my gluteus maximus is still hurting, even causing me to have to get up and down slowly. I also have a crick in my neck.

I am told that if you ride a bike or a motorcycle a person will take it down at least once. Let’s hope this is my one and only time.

3 thoughts on “Biff

  1. I know that feeling. I’ll admit that my first move after any accidentis to look around to see if anyone saw it. Then I’ll check my injuries.

  2. Sweetie, I’m truly grateful that it was your bum that was the worse for wear and not your head! You’re kind of vital to our family…

  3. I put on between 2000 and 2500 miles a season (I ride about 8 months of the year). In the past four years, I have been hit by other vehicles twice, but had only one major wipe out, and that was during the off road portion of my trip. But I was more embarrassed when I finally decided to buy those fancy clip on pedals (and riding shoes). Because, frankly, it is not instinctive to twist your heel away from the pedal to take your foot off the pedal, and so there were a few instances where, coming to a nice, controlled stop, I went to put my foot out – which generally is done at the last possible moment before falling – but did so without remembering that my shoe was clamped into the pedal. There is an awkward moment wherein I am upright and my knee swings out, but is not followed by my leg, and then the graceless, far too slow, tipping of the cow, as it were.Of course, being at the front of the line of traffic just as the light is about to change, is not the time you want to be lying prostrate, clamped under your bike, trying to shimmy yourself frantically to safety. I am just saying, it lacks a certain dignity. Now that I am used to the pedals (read: muscle memory is securely in place) it is not an issue, I clamp in and out instinctively – but those weeks where I was learning had a few embarrassingly slow tumbles. They are less painful, but because it all happens in such a leisurely way, one looks, to all the world, to be pretty much “stupid” for falling over like that. Especially given that your knees tend to flap in and out like an albatross trying to take flight as you slowly topple to the side…At least a tumble at speed looks impressive…

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