Thursday’s bike ride converted into a series of adventures and misadventures.
During the eventful trip, I fell down two times while getting on or off my Cannondale 400 Hybrid, I rescued a damsel in distress whose bike was disabled, and was nearly killed by a cretin who was driving a car.
Incident #1. During the ride, it became cloudy and the skies darkened. I interrupted the ride, got off the bicycle, and turned on the front and rear flashers. When I tried to get back on the bike, my foot couldn’t get over the bar, and the bicycle and I crashed to the ground. This now happens often because of the loss of flexibility that comes with aging.
One of the gear clusters or a sharp edge of a pedal punctured my lower leg just above the foot and my sock was soaked in blood. I wiped off the wound with an alcohol/aloe towelette and put on an oversized Bandaid. I got on the bike, supported by a nearby tree, and continued the journey.
Incident #2. I stopped to drink some Cytomaxed water from my water bottle and some regular water from a drinking fountain in Echo Lake Park. Across the street from the bench and the water fountain where I stopped, a pretty twenty-something year old woman had her bicycle upside down and was talking on her cell phone.
I put the water bottle into the bike’s bottle holder and rolled over to the other side of the road to see if I could help. As I dismounted to talk to her, my damned foot again caught the cross bar and I fell on my face. The damsel rushed over to rescue her clumsy knight. At least this time I wasn’t punctured.
She told me that her derailleur was jammed. I checked out the derailleur, the clusters, and the chain, and discovered that the chain had slipped off the front innermost cluster and was wedged between the cluster and the bike frame. I managed to get the chain back on the gear wheel and rotated the pedal a few times. I asked her to ride around a bit. She did and told me everything was OK. I wiped the grease off of my hands with another Wet Ones towelette — damned things are essential for any bike rider, said goodbye to the damsel, and continued my journey.
Incident #3. Then I was nearly killed by an imbecile who passed me on the left and made an abrupt right turn right in front of me into the driveway of store. Missed me by a foot.
I pursued him into the lot with fire coming out of my nostrils and would have killed him if he had had the temerity to leave his car. Instead, he rolled up the window, and sat staring at the dashboard. He looked retarded: all he did was stare at his dashboard with an impassive expression bereft of any emotion — remorse, fear, anger, or amusement.
After banging on his side window and threatening to kick it in and strangle him, I came to believe he was retarded, walked away, took a deep breath, and got back on the bike to complete a 32 mile ride.
* * *
Since the day when all of this occurred, I’ve been questioning myself about whether I should continue bicycling on the road. I just turned seventy-one and still have good reflexes, but I am alarmed by the carelessness and ineptitude of many drivers.
While waiting for a light to go green, I notice that in the three cars on my left, all three drivers are texting. People routinely open their car doors in my face or make left turns in front of me with little room to spare. This latest incident is the second time in one year when I have almost been killed by an indifferent or negligent driver in the exact same place.
Two doctors whom I see regularly are bicyclists and have recently suffered serious injuries. Florida, where I often ride the trails, has one of the highest rates of bicycle fatalities in the country.
My favorite activities are writing, translating, reading, working out, and bicycling. These days I often nod out on the couch while reading. This is annoying, but not life threatening. Riding 30 or 40 or 50 miles on my bicycles under a hot sun in a tank top is exhilarating. Being confined to a wheelchair would not be exhilarating. Is it time to confine my cycling to bike trails?