I’ve been braced for a bike crash for a while. I’ve been riding trails that someone of my limited technical ability really has no business on, and working hard at finding urban features to practice my skills during my day-to-day riding. I’ve been riding down short flights of stairs, jumping off ledges, and generally testing the limits on every commute.
It’s been a long, hot summer here in Van. Last night, after one of the longest sustained dry spells in recorded history, three months’ worth of rain fell in two hours. It was like a wall of water crashing into the city, lit up by bursts of thunder and lightning. I went out to the roof deck and stood there in the violence and chaos, drenched to the skin, soaking up the madness in the air.
I didn’t really stop to think about what the torrential downpour meant for my regular commute. So today I went belting around a False Creek corner on a wooden dock, and my rear wheel shot out from under me on the slippery rain-soaked wood. Thanks to my speed I went down hard, taking the brunt of the force on the outside of my right thigh and the rebound on my poor long-suffering right arm.
I took five minutes to let the pounding adrenaline subside at least a little, put the bike back together (the chain had flown off and the rear derailleur was knocked sideways) and gave myself time for some deep breaths. Then I got back on and pedaled slowly towards work. Because I’m nothing if not too dumb to quit, I rolled a couple of sets of stairs on the way.
Once I’d taken the time to clean up my scraped arm and get changed into work clothes, the adrenaline had worn off entirely and I was just shaky, sore and mad at myself for making such a dumb mistake. Ice and Advil both helped, but I was shocked by the increasing pain in my leg each time I stayed sitting long enough for it to stiffen up. The saucer-sized muscle contusion was already swollen about half an inch high.
At the end of the day my manager very kindly offered to drive me home, but I declined as I wanted to get the bike back so I could get it into the shop to get the derailleur fixed. The first turn of the pedals was enough to let me know I’d made a major mistake. I lurched the 7km home with my right leg virtually useless, letting it hang from the pedals on every downhill stretch.
The sad thing is that I was 78km away from my highest mileage month ever, and had a 160km ride planned for tomorrow that definitely won’t be happening now. I still can’t quite believe that after all of the crazy stuff I’ve been doing on my bike recently, I went down turning an ordinary corner on my regular commute.