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.”