Saturday, June 16, 2012

Crashing In Line

I just completed a week-long solo tour of the Rocky Mountains on a bicycle, without incident save for some sunburn and a greasy chainring mark on my calf, merely the sine qua non and badge of honor for anyone in command of a filthy bicycle.
Today I went out for a ride with some friends and some friends of theirs - people I'd never met before - people who, in a word, don't ride together much or have never done. We decided to do a paceline out onto the prairie. I had my reservations about that, for the reasons just mentioned, but figured I'd take my chances and allow caution, good sense and circumspection to stand in for the protocols of familiarity and long practice. 

The first 10 miles went pretty well, everyone a bit shaky at first, the line going herky-jerky every few hundred yards, then getting a rhythm after the first few miles. It seemed to be working until someone in media res grabbed the brakes and sent a spasm of brake-grabbing back down the line to the last guy, who happened to be me. I've ridden in enough pace lines in the last two centuries (twentieth and twenty-first, not Santa Fe and Red River) to know not to stare at the wheel in front of you, but I was staring at the wheel in front of me when I was suddenly on it, nipped it just enough to peel the sewup tire off my front rim, leaving me nowhere to go but down. I was sprawled on the road faster than a Congressman can take a check.

Doug Lamborn, R-CO 
(courtesy Rocky Mountain Taxidermy)

Several hours later, I am still taking inventory of my stoved up parts - sprained left thumb, bruised right ankle, bruised rib cage. But the right side of my face looks like I was mugged for a box of Krispy Kremes in the parking lot of an all-night Seven-Eleven.

After I got to my feet, stanched the stream of blood from my face and sorted out which of my joints were still serviceable, one of my ride mates had already left the scene to go for his pickup and ferry me and my bike back to the start point. But I felt sound enough to ride back, so when everyone had set off for the return ride, I slipped the sewup back onto the rim, pumped it up and set out to meet them at the start point.

On the ride back it occurred to me that perhaps I should do some sort of cognitive exercises to determine just how disoriented I might be from my head smacking the pavement with some force. So I quizzed myself on the usual memory questions - I knew the date, knew what century I was in, remembered my name and birthday with perfect clarity, recalled immediately the name of the president and all five of the Supreme Court majority in Citizens United. I remembered all twelve Apostles, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the four humors, the Four Tops, all four of the Kingston Trio, who the Queen is . . . 

". . . oh, still him?"

But it was scary . . . I could not for the life of me remember who's the prime minister of Azerbaijan. I'm going to have to get my head examined after all.

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