Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bermuda Corner

I think my bike is jinxed. I have fallen on my new bike more in the first 30 days I’ve ridden it than I did the whole eight years that I rode my old bike! What is up with that?? 
Luckily my falls have been minor. No major slips, skids headers or crashes. Mostly simple tip overs. However, one specific corner seems to be problematic for me. 
The first time I was riding with my biker buddy Barb. We had headed out just after work so the traffic was still heavy. We turned onto a busy road in front of a school. Cars everywhere. I don’t get too nervous in traffic. There’s usually plenty of room for the cars and a bike on the side. 
This day, a large SUV was next to me. The traffic was going very slow because there was a stoplight a few yards away and again, traffic was heavy in both directions. So the SUV and I were rolling along at about the same speed. 
There was only about 6 inches between me and the SUV and I felt crowded. I looked over near the curb and I didn’t think I should move over any closer. This street has a true gutter where the road slopes down to the curb. Also there was a inch wide seam between the road and start of the sloping gutter. Too easy to catch a tire in. Besides that there was some standing water in the gutter left over from recent rains. Add the debris that settles in the gutter and you are just asking for a flat tire. No it was better to stay put. 
So the SUV and I kept crawling toward the stop light and I was feeling like if I wobbled just a bit I would bump into the SUV and that wouldn’t be good. So I looked over at the gutter one more time. 
I have experience mountain biking which I think sometimes is detrimental to my road riding. I looked at the gutter as if I was on my mountain bike. Ah, I can hit that seem head on and make it. Then I’ll hug the left side and I’ll be fine. There’s not much water. My tread should hold me on the road. 
So I hit the seam head on and get over it fine. I straighten out right away and I’m rolling fine......for ten seconds. 
All of a sudden, my back wheel is sliding out toward the curb. 
I remember thinking, “Why the hell am I sliding?!!!!” I should have been thinking “How can I straighten out fast?” 
Road bikes don’t have tread like mountain bikes. When my wheel hit the slimey standing water in the gutter, there was no tread to hold me to the road. 
I was falling into the lane. The moment I moved over the SUV sped up and was no longer next to me. Which in this case was a good thing. However, all I could think of was that there was a long line of cars behind the SUV. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was about to be hit. 
So my plan was to jump up and get me and my bike out of the street as fast as possible. I started unclipping on the way down. As soon as I hit the street I jumped up grabbed my bike and headed for the sidewalk. 
The fact that I didn’t hear any car tires squealing was a good sign. As soon as I made it safely to the sidewalk and I knew I wasn’t going to get hit my ego kicked in. “OMG! Did anyone see that? I must have looked like a dork! No one saw. No one saw. No one saw.” I chanted in my head.
Damn! Someone saw. I looked up and across the street was a runner. In true runner fashion she hadn’t stopped running but called to me as she went by. I gave her two thumbs up and she waved and went on her way. I looked in the street and all the cars were stopped! EVERYONE saw. The car I fell in front of was a good ten feet back from where I fell. The driver must have seen my tire start to slide and just stopped their car to give me room to fall. 
Or the driver is also a biker and stopped his/her car when they saw me ride into the gutter, knowing I was being stupid and there was only a matter of seconds before I’d be going down.  
Barb by this time had came up on the sidewalk too. 
“OMG! I have never seen anyone get up so fast!”
“Yeah. I didn’t want to hang out in the street too long.”
Barb, a typical biker asks: “Is your bike ok?”
I had thrown my chain. But that was all. Not even a scratch on my bike! 
That the first ‘go down’ on that corner. The very next weekend Barb, Kris and I were riding again and at the same spot. This time we were going around the corner. My head was turned looking at a really cool car when out of my peripheral vision I saw Kris suddenly stop. I was following too close and bumped into him and down I went. But this time I fell onto the sidewalk instead. No harm no fowl. 
Incidentally, on our way back in from that same ride, we had to come back through that intersection. This time doing a left turn. I hate left turns. But we made it through safely this time. Hopefully, the bad mojo of the corner and the jinx of my bike has been broken! 


Ron Harton said...

Very scary Jill. Your mtn biking experience must have helped you get up on your feet so quickly. Sounds like cyclocross! Curbs are so dangerous. I'm always afraid I will hit my pedal. Isn't one of Murphy's Laws that you only fall when others are watching?

Jill said...

I think you are right about Murphy's law.

I think it's funny that I was worried about people seeing me. I mean, HELLO! I didn't get hit by a car! Who cares if I looked stupid? Humans are funny.:)