When you are paid to sit at a computer all day and think about abstract topics such as polymorphic inheritance, you develop a need for concrete, physically challenging activities. At least that’s what happens to me. Usually I play Ultimate Frisbee or go for a bike ride at lunch time and this serves to reassure that I still exist in the physical world. This week, a co-worker, Brooke, invited me to actually use the off-road tires that came with my cyclo-cross bike and join him in a cyclo-cross training session. I was excited to see what this was all about and so consented.

Thursday night I wrestled the knobby tires onto my rims and Friday at lunch time we rode over to the park that’s on work property and started riding loops around the outside, making tight turns around trees, bumping over roots and gravel, and having a good time. Then came the little PVC pipe barriers Brooke had set up. As we approached he hopped off of his bike, hefted it and himself over the barriers, and then hopped back on, all without losing any speed. I swerved and rode around the barriers. When we took a break I asked him to show me how in the world he did the dismounting and mounting on-the-fly like that. After some instruction and several warnings to go slow until I have it down, I was making some tentative attempts. It felt awkward, but fun. It reminded me of some of the crazy stuff my friends and I would try on our bikes as kids. Here’s a video of a guy doing pretty much the same thing Brooke was doing so you can get the idea:

So there I was, getting confident, and attacking the barriers at a faster speed. As I cleared the barriers the last time, I went into the re-mount. In one fast fluid motion I swung my right leg up and smoothly landed on my bike. Sadly, it looked nothing like what you see in that video. You see, I didn’t land on the seat (or saddle, for you serious cyclers). No, I landed on the left side of my bike. Somehow it had fallen over onto its right side and my left knee landed squarely on the rim of my front wheel, with the left pedal digging into my left shin. Embarrassing, and painful.

When I stood up and examined first myself and then the bike, I saw that my shin was swelling up nicely and that my front wheel wouldn’t turn. I had enough adrenaline flowing that my shin didn’t hurt, so I started to examine my bike more closely. Brooke came over to help and we discovered that my rim was bent somewhat into the shape of my knee and that bulge was preventing its rotation. Brooke, being the expert cyclist that he is, whipped out his trusty multi-tool and began cranking on the spokes in order to straighten my rim out enough for me to be able to ride back from the park. I’m very grateful he could do that for me.

The wheel was fully straightened out at the bike shop the next day for $10. Hopefully it’ll stay that way. The swelling on my shin went down by Saturday afternoon too, though Sunday morning I discovered a few more bruises and scrapes. As for this experience reassuring myself that I am really alive, I have to say, “mission accomplished.”

As a postscript, I also discovered that Brooke is actually somewhat famous around here as a cyclo-cross rider. If I had known that I might have taken his sage advice to go slow more seriously. Maybe.


dad August 25, 2008 at 1:18 p.m.

Your new mantra should be: I bike therefore I am. But please stay alive so you can be alive. Dad

Bryan August 25, 2008 at 10:14 p.m.

Dad, you and I think alike. Take a look at the title of this blog entry ;-)

I will definitely try and stay alive. These were minor bumps, really. I think the bike was worse off than me.