Monday, March 16, 2009


I hate crashing my bike.

I hate the part where the bike goes out from under you and you fly in the air and then you aren't flying any longer and the ground is really hard. I hate getting pieces of skin torn off. I really hate it when tendons tear and -- although I've been lucky so far and haven't had this happen yet -- bones break.

I hate getting holes ripped in my good shorts or jerseys or jackets or knee warmers or arm warmers. I hate when you smack your head on the pavement so that things go a little woozy, because that means you've probably just ruined a helmet. Skin heals itself, but there's not much you can do with shredded shorts.

Okay, so that's the Scotsman in me.

I really hate when you crash and there are other people around and your crash takes one of them out. Again, this hasn't happened to me, yet, but I came close Sunday.

We were testing a route that my friend Vida Greer is submitting to the folks at Rapha, who make really nice clothing and cycling gear, as one of their Rapha Continental rides. The route has all of these little-known and rarely traveled roads near Leiper's Fork, TN, going down to Fly, Theta, Santa Fe, and other towns down there so small that most of them don't even have a country store.

Here's a good "over-the-shoulder" picture from the ride:

That's Peter Lee in front, about to take a picture of my back. He was taking a bunch of pictures earlier in the ride of my beautiful Lynskey. If he had taken a picture of my back, it would have captured my jacket ... before I tore a hole in it.

To the left of Peter (on Peter's right ... wow, that get's confusing) is Jeff Sammons, the middle Tennessee RBA (Regional Brevet Administrator). Jeff was doing this ride because we had held a 200K in Dover, TN, the day before, but it rained all day and was cold, so Jeff decided (very wisely, I must say) to not start that ride, and was making up Sunday for lost mileage.

To the right of Peter is Lynn Greer, Vida's husband and one of the owners of the Greatest Bike Shop in the Universe: Gran Fondo. Lynn is really very fast. Whereas we were at mile 35 or so after two hours when I took this picture, Lynn would normally have finished all 105 miles by then and would be at the soigneur. But he was keeping us company Sunday and held back for us.

Here's the rest of the Sunday group. That's Jeff Bauer in front, riding fixed because 135 miles with extra gears is too easy for him. Then comes Vida, who is almost as fast as her husband but was also holding back to stay with us. This was good because she knew the route, and otherwise we would still be out there somewhere, like Ned Beatty in "Deliverance."

Behind Vida is Bill Glass -- one of the greatest bike handlers in the world. I've seen Bill in a large, fast pack of riders on a rainy century in the Smokey Mountains, doing 30 on a gradual descent, sit up and take his jacket off. Mad skilz.

So, it was a great group and a really nice route. And then we get to this fast part of Godwin Road, and I'm riding along next to Jeff Bauer, when I see that the road narrows a bit at the turn, and that there's gravel on the left. So I hit my brakes, but it turns out I'm already a little in that gravel, so whoosh ... bang!

The other thing I hate about crashing? It almost always scrapes something. My Lynskey was pristine Sunday morning, but here's the shifter after the crash:

Jeff Bauer managed not to run over me, but had to go over my front wheel. Oddly enough, that wheel was okay, but the back one was toast. I got up and checked to see if anything on me was torn loose, then checked to see if the Lynskey was okay. Since the rear wheel wouldn't turn, even after re-seating it, I figured not.

We didn't have cell coverage, but the very nice lady whose house I had crashed in front of lent me a phone and I called the Randowife. I had a woozy moment and had to sit down, but I think it was more from the crash adrenaline than the head smack (the helmet is history, by the way ... another argument for always wearing your helmet).

Meanwhile, master mechanic Lynn was able to "repair" the wheel so I could get down to Snow Creek and wait for the Randowife to come get me. His repair consisted of judicisously banging the wheel against the road ... but it worked.

Here's Lynn and Bill diagnosing my wheel, and then Lynn fixing it:

We got down to the little church on Snow Creek Road and I tried to send everybody off to finish their ride. They didn't want to leave me alone, though, so Lynn waited with me for about an hour while the group went up Ragsdale Road (a very tough climb that I was sad to miss that day). When they got back, Lynn went with the group south to Fly while Bill stayed with me. When the Randowife got there about half an hour later, Bill headed down to the Trace and home, so he still got a decent long ride.

So, now I'm sore in a few spots and have a bandage on my elbow. The Lynskey is okay: I cleaned it up as soon as I got home and put my spare rear wheel on, so it is whole again. My helmet is in the trash can, and one of my good, long-sleeve wool jerseys will now have a darned hole in it (heh-heh ... sewing humor). The rain jacket that I have used in so many brevets may be retired, although the cheap Scotsman in me is loathe to do so.

But what I feel most of all, though, is glad. I'm glad that I have the kind of friends that don't mind hanging out with me when I crash. I'm glad that these are the kind of friends that invite me to ride with them in the first place, and don't run over me when I crash in front of them, and ask to borrow phones from strangers at a house, and bang my wheel back into round so I can maybe continue the ride, and know how to fix all kinds of other stuff, and worry about me because I crunched my helmet and was a little woozy after the crash. I'm really, really, really glad that I have the Randowife to come pick me up -- driving an hour and a half to fetch me and my bike, and then driving an hour and a half back home -- rather than do the 20 things that she would easily rather be doing on her day off. I'm glad that the Randodaughter insisted that I call as soon as the Randowife picked me up, so that she would know I was okay.

Maybe I should be more careful when I'm out riding, since all of these people seem to care about me. And I probably will be more cautious for a while with fast descents on twisty roads ... especially if there's any sign of gravel. But if I was really careful I would stay at home, inside on rainy days, and not live life anywhere near the edge. Since that's where my friends and loved ones hang out, I guess I'll stick with the edge.


  1. Robert,

    I am glad to hear that you are okay. I had a similar incident about a month ago. Hopefully, we have both met our "quota" for the year.

  2. Thanks, Dave. You and Jeff still need to watch out for cats, of course.

  3. You are always welcome and eminently "fetchable" or is that fetching?

  4. Randowife: You're always the girl that I want to pick me up ... but not under these kind of circumstances.