Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Moustache O'er the Handlebar

"And you should get yourself a helmet", she said looking at my turban. "Also a mirror on your bike".
I nodded. 
I had waved down the cyclist for directions to N-street but was getting more than I had asked for. I am not complaining; she turned out to be the kind of help that I could have only hoped for, not expected. Her concern was refreshing especially after my crash a couple of hours earlier where cars had passed by without stopping to offer help though seeing me fly over my bicycle handlebar. (scroll at the bottom of the post for videos)
Started out as a Beautiful Day
"N-street will take you to Beach street.  How bad is your knee hurt?"
The John Wayne in me replied, "Not so bad." The Woody Allen in me wimped, "It is better I avoid the hills."
"In that case", continued the cycling Samaritan, "you should avoid the Beech St; it has a wicked hill. I will take you around the hill, some rolling hills. Follow me." I did not want to take her away from her ride; she looked like a serious rider, lycra and all, out to have a serious ride, but she ignored my protestations and off we set to the Plaza, me trying to stay with her, the guilt of holding her back overpowering the complaints from my knee, wrist, and ribs.
The day was turning out to be not so bad after all. You almost get killed on the road and people pass you by without stopping; you stop someone just for directions and instead get offered water, energy gels, and are led to the water hole. Life has a knack for balancing itself out at the end of the day.

I had set out for a relaxed Sunday 40-mile ride to my friend Champ's place. The deal was I would help him buy a bike rack and he would later drop me back. The forecast had said chances for showers but it was turning out to be a nice day and I had to stop at more than a couple of spots to click pictures (yes, I was carrying my cellphone today).
Scene of The Fall
It was somewhere in Ashland when coming down a small hill I went over a pothole, the handle flew out of my hands and I flew over the handlebars. The next few moments were a blur. 4-5 cars that were close behind me -- and the drivers who could not have failed to see me crash -- veered away carefully but almost as if hastily, passing me as I lay sprawled on the road. Was it because they saw a turbaned guy on the road or were they simply avoiding the risk of a liability?
I hobbled to my bike, stood it on the sidewalk and feeling I might pass out soon, lay on the grass. It was a beautiful day: the sun was out and so were lots of other stars. But why were they floating and why was Earth spinning so fast on a leisurely Sunday?
After a few minutes on grass (not the other kind) when the stars vanished and Earth slowed down to a crawl, I surveyed the damage: bleeding knuckles, wickedly bruised shoulder, tender wrist, and ... ah! the knee. Ahhh! 
I was in two minds: call Champ to pick me up or finish the ride. Throwing all caution to the wind and all discretion into that damn pothole, I chose to do the latter, ruing my decision with each pedal I biked. A ride that should have been completed well under 3 hours took me 4 hours.
I think I might have broken a rib, fractured my wrist, and damaged my knee. The knee worries me the most. I hope it heals soon and that I can prepare for the 13.1 Boston next month. But what hurts me more than any of these physical injuries is the fact that no one stopped to offer help or to see how bad I was hurt. It does not bode well for bicyclists on the road and for a humane society in general.


(I have put together a few video clips here of accidents where bicyclists fly over the handlebars, more to remind myself of the day than to laugh at other people's misfortunes.)

1. Regular cyclist over the handlebars.This could happen to anyone, to you too.

2. Here is one of a kid on a mountain bike. He must have known the risks of what he was doing.

3.  Didn't Momma tell you "never" let go of the handlebars? (not exactly 'over the handlebar' but I had to just include this one here).

4. Below is one of a kid on a tricycle who goes flying over the handlebars. I do not find it funny but rather concerning; I have a 2-yr nephew whom I recently got a tricycle. And add to it, we have a very similar sloping street where we live.

5. The following one, I hate to say it, but what the heck was the guy thinking or not thinking of? This one is too funny to be taken seriously. Again, this is not an 'over the handlebar' video, but worth a look.

6.  The last is a slideshow of pictures from crashes during bike races. Some pictures are dreadful, reminding me how lucky I am to get away with minor injuries.

Finally, an article about which brake ought one to use, front or rear? This is especially relevant for those like me who do not want to go over the handlebar again.

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