I guess I’d been living on borrowed time, so to speak. One of the first things I did after moving to downtown Memphis was to buy a bicycle. Up until very recently, the only bike-related mishaps I’ve had was when I’d try to transport the bike inside my car, instead of using a bike rack. That led to me having to replace the rear window of the car twice (d’oh!).
Because of a weight loss contest at work, I’ve been riding a lot over the last few months. I have a 3-mile circuit that keeps me relatively close to the house (in case of accidents). My chief concern has been other traffic on the streets – sorry Memphis drivers – but generally speaking – you suck at safety. Fortunately though, except for the blonde in a BMW at the corner of Patterson and Tennessee, who was more interested in her cell phone conversation than in scanning for traffic, I haven’t had any really close calls with autos on the road. I did slip into the space between the trolley tracks and the streets very close to that same spot, which taught me to stay away from riding parallel to the tracks.
Anyway, because of the contest, I have been adding distance to my ride. It’s a nice jaunt from south of South Main to Greenbelt Park on Mud Island. Coming down the bridge is a lot more fun than going up. I was out a couple of weekends ago, racking up the miles. I’d been through downtown, over to Mud Island, down to Tom Lee Park and over the Bluff Walk. I was coming up to my house, having covered 14.8 miles. Hmm, I thought, if I go around one more block, I can push the total up to 15 miles even.
Hubris. It’s always what gets us in the end. I passed the house, went up to Carolina and Kansas, turned right to Georgia, turned right again, and made a quick choice of whether to turn on Litty or go down to Tennessee. Since the house is closer to Litty, that’s what I did – completely forgetting that the street there is closer to a gravel road than a paved city street. As soon as I started around the corner, my rear tire lost any grip it had on the road and flew (yes, flew) out from under me. I wasn’t going very fast – 5 miles an hour or so, but it happened so quickly, that I couldn’t react, except to tense up a bit.
As I came crashing down on my shoulder, I remember thinking – ‘oh boy, this really hurts. I hope I don’t hit my head – ow! I just hit my head!’ Thank God for bicycle helmets. If you ride without one, you’re a fool. Seriously. Once I regained my senses, I looked up, seeing my front door just a block away. Stupid, I thought. I could be home right now. I pulled myself out from under the bike and hopped around in genuine pain. A minivan drove by, which I guess means I didn’t look as injured as I really was (or people can be jerks when it comes to not wanting to get involved).
After hopping around for a while, I picked the bike up, gingerly, and made my way home. I saw that I had snapped the strap-on mirror off the left handlebar, which means it spun all the way around, since I hit on the right side. The back-up mirror on the left side of the helmet popped off too, which tells me my noggin bounced with some force.
Once I got inside, I began peeling off the various layers I’d been wearing to stay warm. My very nice CNN pullover now has a torn up right shoulder, but neither of the two layers under it were damaged. There is a wicked long bruise down the side of my right upper arm. I don’t remember having time to stick my hand out, but once I got my gloves off, I found that I had a dime-sized scrape on the base of my right hand. No damage to the glove. I could see my right knee was bleeding through my tights. Once I got them off, I thought how bad a brown knee looks when it’s mixed up with pink and red. Almost no damage to the tights.
My girlfriend came over to help out. I pretty much lived in a sling with ice packs and Advil for the next week. No, I haven’t been to a doctor. I’m holding onto the thought that I’ve got a deep muscle bruise, and I’m pretty much doing everything an orthopedist would tell me to do anyway. The pain lessens daily, and my range of motion is slowly returning.
Of course, I lost an entire week of the weight loss contest, unable to work out. My latest pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes arrived last week, so I have been able to start running again. But the contest ends Thursday (11/18). I’m wondering whether my main competition tossed sand and gravel at the corner of Litty Place and Georgia…