There’s something strange about being an Extremely Popular A-List Blogger like myself: you (by which I mean I) are constantly on the hunt for things to write about. Because every time you (by which I mean I) finish an entry, you suspect that you have, in fact, just written the very last words you will ever have to say on the subject of biking.
In short, almost anytime anything — good or bad — happens to me on the bike, I sigh a little sigh of relief: I know I’ll be able to use this event either as my main point or to illustrate a point when I write the next day.
Notice how I said “almost anything” in that last paragraph? That’s because sometimes something happens that’s just too embarrassing or painful or both to talk about the next day.
Sometimes, I have to wait a couple days before I – yes, even I, the Extremely Popular A-List Blogger — can write about an event without dying a little Death by Humiliation
Or, as in this case, about ten days.
A Nice Day for a Ride
I’m confident I have not mentioned this before (and certainly have not mentioned it over and over, whining like a spoiled baby), but it’s been a cold Winter. So, a couple weekends ago when we had both warm weather (no jacket required!) and dry roads, Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) and I took the opportunity to get out on our road bikes for a couple hours.
Rick was in the mood to climb and I was curious to see whether I could hang with Rick, so we started by climbing up the South side Suncrest — four miles of uphill, with about 1300 feet of altitude gain.
It turns out I can hang with Rick…unless Rick feels like going faster than me. About 2/3 of the way up, Rick saw another couple of cyclists way up yonder. “Let’s catch them!” Rick shouted, and took off, as if he thought that we weren’t already going maximum speed.
Eventually, I would catch Rick, but only because he waited for me at the top.
This, by the way, is not the part that took me ten days to feel like I could write about it. And I apologize if it seems like I am writing a shaggy dog, here. It’s just that I’m still not entirely comfortable with writing the punchline to today’s post. Gotta work up to it, you see.
Anyway, Rick and I dropped down the North side of Suncrest, then spun along in Draper. It was here that I used what I consider the best possible technique for reeling in a formidable cycling opponent / riding buddy: The Halfwheel-Conversation Ploy. It’s easy, really: you halfwheel-draft the guy while asking short open-ended questions that require long answers, like “So tell me all about your Leadville 100 plan: training, equipment, your planned split times, everything.” Then you shut up and let the other guy talk (thereby using his wind for something other than flogging you mercilessly on the bike) while you draft.
This worked for a while, and then it was time to climb back up Suncrest, this time on the steeper North side.
Once again, I had no problem at all staying with Rick, except for when he felt like riding ahead of me.
By the time we got to the top of Suncrest, I was beat. Rick lives at Suncrest, so he turned off toward home and I rolled down the South side back toward my home, fried.
I can always tell I’m really tired when I start verbally coaxing myself. “OK, Fatty (yes, I now sometimes call myself “Fatty”), once you turn onto Westfield, you’re just two miles from home. Only three more Stop signs and you’re there. Just keep turning the cranks.”
On and on like that, just trying to keep the bike upright. Head down, staring at my knees.
And that’s when it happened.
Fatty, Say “Hi” to the Pavement
The thing about staring at your knees is you’re not looking at other things. Things, for example, like what’s in front of you.
Have I mentioned that it’s been a cold Winter? And you know what a cold Winter does to roads?
It makes potholes in them. Big ones, sometimes.
Without trying to avoid the pothole at all — without seeing it at all — I rode straight into it at about 15mph.
My hands, until a moment ago lightly resting on the bars, bounced off, my chest went into the stem, and I went down hard, landing atop my bike.
It hurt. A lot.
My shoulder dislocated, I was scraped up, and one of my fingers felt like it was broken (it isn’t).
But that wasn’t what really hurt.
What really hurt was the very clear image in my mind of what I must have looked like to the cars now passing me (none of them stopping to ask if I was OK, by the way): A guy on his bike, all dressed up like he’s some fancy pro rider, rides straight into a pothole big enough to be seen from space. Of course he crashed. He must have wanted to crash.
What really hurt was the fact that I had just turfed it good and hard and had nobody and nothing to blame but me (though you can bet that I tried to find something or someone to blame).
But nope, there was nothing else. I’m just a dork, plain and simple.
My wheels were so bent I had to release the brakes to ride home. And the bike wouldn’t shift. I was so afraid of what I might find that I didn’t expect the bike for damage myself, instead taking it to Racer’s Cycle Service, cooking up a plausible story for why I crashed my bike (I hit ice as I was coming around a corner).
Evidently, I had totaled a shifter/lever, but the bike was otherwise OK.
Please, please tell me I’m not the only one who’s had completely avoidable, totally self-inflicted wrecks, preferably with strangers present to look at you like you’re an escapee from the Arkham Asylum.
Even if it’s not true, please tell me.
PS: Today’s weight: 163.4