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Life in the Bike Lane

I’m OK. Thanks for asking

By: Tom Frady
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For the first time in many years, I had a bit of a crash while riding.

I’m OK.  Thanks for asking. 

Here’s what happened. My friend (I’ll call him Bob because that’s his name) and I were doing the “Wandering Dog” after a ride.  One does the Wandering Dog to add a few miles before or after a ride to make the ride a nice, even number, such as 35 or 50.  I mean, who really wants to put 48.67 miles down on a mileage chart?

The Wandering Dog follows no particular path around the neighborhood, often avoiding anything remotely resembling an incline.

It was that “no particular path” that did me in.

Bob and I were just chatting about nothing in particular as we wandered about.  Since it was he who needed the extra miles, he was “leading.”

As we do, we were signaling turns in advance. 

Bob (his real name) was talking about his neighbor, who was the subject of an article in a local paper and pointed out her house on the left . . . .  I thought.

What he was actually doing was signaling that we were going to turn left, which he did. 

I didn’t. 

My front wheel rubbed his rear wheel. The “rubber” always goes down and I did.  The “rubbee” seldom goes down and he didn’t.

Of course, it all happened in slow motion.  It was so slow that I remember reciting the entire football cheer from Redlands University before I hit the street.  (Note:  I did not attend Redlands University.)  I could see the ground coming toward me and specifically remember the sensation of sliding across the pavement on my hip, before coming to a stop, separated from my bike.

“I’m OK,” I said, as Bob turned around to check on me.

Digression: bike clothes, especially shorts and jerseys, are actually designed to slide across pavement as a way to diminish blunt force injury. Bike gloves also provide a significant amount of protection against abrasion on the hands in case of an accident. My shorts, jersey and gloves all helped protect me.

The shorts had a hole at the right hip (later repaired by my live-in seamstress) but the slight redness on my skin showed no blood. There was an abrasion on my elbow about the size of a dime. My right-hand glove also showed signs of abrading at the thumb. My right shoe was scuffed. I had my point’ n’ shoot camera in the right of my rear jersey pocket.  It showed deep gashes on the front but still worked fine. 

The right side of my bike was scratched at the derailleur and pedal and the handlebar tape was roughed up at the very end of the grip.  Fortunately, there were no scratches on the frame. Have I mentioned this is my new bike, less than two months in my possession?

I have read that it is not a matter of “if” but “when” one will have a crash on a bike.  This is probably why many people don’t get on a bike.  There is a certain amount of risk, to be sure. While I think the novice rider fears interaction with cars most, it is other riders and road hazards most likely to cause a problem.

I have gone down three or four times in 16 years but I have never had an accident from which I could not ride away and have never been involved in a car versus bike crash.  I think I am a safe rider and do what I can to encourage others to be safe.

Tom Frady is a Lincoln resident and avid cyclist and driver.