If I were a biker my nickname would be “Crash.”
As it is, an unmotorized bike is difficult enough for me. In the past two years I have fallen off my bike four times. That’s about once every 5th time I ride my bike. The first time I fell off there was a lot of blood. It turns out that braking while trying to put your water bottle back in its holder is not conducive to staying upright.
The second time I fell I was riding adjacent to the light-rail tracks. I knew that I needed to make sure not to get into the tracks, I mean I understood that was a great way to fall and injure myself. But, the more I was telling myself not to get into the groove the more my bike was moving towards it. It was like a magnetic attraction. I was banged up pretty good.
The third time I fell, my boyfriend Andrew and I were on the way back to Vancouver (Washington) from a Portland (Oregon) Sunday Parkways. Sunday Parkways is a neat summer event that happens on the last or second to last Sunday of the summer months (I can’t remember which). Approximately 6 miles of various neighborhoods are closed off to automobile traffic and the cyclists go for a tootle. At the time I was in training for a Century ride (one hundred miles) for the American Diabetes Association – and by “in training” I mean I had done little to no cycling and imagined that 100 miles would be no biggie – so Andrew and I decided to cycle down to the Parkways and that way ramp up the mileage from six to a little over 30.
We were coming up to the I-5 bridge. To do so, you have to go a mildly circuitous route through Jantzen Beach (a path I still get confused on when riding alone). Then as you get to the path to cross over the I-5 there is a paved trail you take. Or if you are a “Dude” there is a dirt path shortcut. It goes straight up a tiny hill. I fancy myself a “Dude” because I am super into sports and I like the challenge. So I start racing up the hill. I can hear Andrew behind me thinking I was lost and didn’t see the path to my left “turn left, Hadas, left.”
It was slightly rainy that day. Portland has a really bad rap about the rain – but we have the same amount of precipitation in a year as New York, ours is just spread out more so it seems it rains a lot – really it’s just less rain, more frequently. Oftentimes it is damp out and you don’t even notice.
There was straw across the “Dude” path because probably the city was trying to recover the ground from the “Dude”s cycling across there instead of taking the paved path to the left.
Straw+damp = slick.
I kept cycling, my tires did not. I went right over the handlebars in a graceful belly-flop. I tore my hamstring a bit, my left shoulder definitely had some sort of strain that only now in September feels healed. I was good enough to run a half marathon the next weekend though.
My fourth bicycle accident is not really a bicycling accident, in that I wasn’t actually riding a bike.
After my third accident I still needed to train up for the Century. So I went for a 44 mile bike ride with the team I was on. We hit the halfway point and my back tire was thrashed. We tried replacing the tube, but there was a hole on the side of the tire that caused the tube to go. So I sat in Vernonia and waited for my teammates to ride back to Beaverton and then drive back to get me. That was my last training ride. Two weeks later was the Century. I had done nothing to fix my bike. Andrew said I could borrow his.
Andrew has two different types of pedals for his bike, there are the kind with the toe hold and the kind with the foot clips. My bike just has pedals. Andrew said it was probably not a good idea to try the clips because unless you are used to them it is a great way to fall. I thought Andrew was full of baloney. He was also out of town. So I put his clipping shoes on and went to the garage to test out the clippy pedals. I was holding on to a table while trying to get the hang of clipping in and out of the pedals. After about 7 times I realized Andrew is not full of baloney and that I would have him change the pedals for me when he got back the next day so that I could ride the Century that weekend.
I went to get off the bike and immediately forgot I was clipped in. My right foot was stuck in the pedal my left foot was up in the air and down I tumbled on my right side. I was bruised slightly on the leg and massively in the ego.
I rode the Century without falling. I didn’t finish though. I bonked around 73 miles. Going for a 100 mile bike ride after 3 training rides that do not even cumulatively equal 100 miles is a bit optimistic.