Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Week of Fail

Hola, amigos. I know it's been a long time since I last rapped at ya, but I've been living it up, enjoying my great new job (and, relevant to this blog, the most perfect 4.5-mile commute), and attempting to work on my "real" writing. After taking care of the house and the cats, there isn't much energy left for blogging

This has been... not so great a week for cycling. My troubles started on Wednesday morning, when I decided to bike to work despite it being a cool thirteen degrees out. Cold weather doesn't bother me any when I'm on the bike because I heat up like a motor (this is probably also the case for you), but it sure did bother my bike! The back wheel froze up causing me to skid. I tried everything to unfreeze it, including loosening the brake pads and attempting to unlock the quick-release back wheel, but it remained frozen until I reluctantly dragged it onto the train, at which point it heated up enough to spin. I resolved not to ride anymore if it's under twenty degrees.

On Thursday, though, it was a bike-approved thirty-five degrees when I set out, so no problems, right? WRONG! I normally take the Fallsway to work, a gently down-sloping back road with almost no traffic and no stoplights, which runs alongside the Jones Falls. Scenery-wise, it is very pretty and a great way to spend half my commute. The Fallsway's upsides are also its downsides, though, since there was a thin sheen of ice on it that hadn't been melted away from the crush and heat of cars. And when I swerved to avoid that ice, there was an invisible layer of ice just to its left.

So, I fell off my bike, for the first time since I was a kid probably. I ruined my pants, removed the top layer of my knee, and was late to work again. I had no idea what was going on for like two minutes, at which point I figured, oh crap, better get the bike out of the road before someone hits it (hey, I told you that road never gets traffic). At that point a friendly motorist asked if I needed any help, but I didn't want to take a ride from a dude and I was only three minutes from my house, so I painfully pedaled back and took the train to work. Hello again, MTA! Really really wasn't expecting to see you again so soon.

Not that epic.
I wasn't going to bike to work yesterday and actually considered calling off the rest of winter, but it was Rob the non-cycling bikes-are-dumb-and-I-hate-them husband who convinced me to ride, because he knows that I'm miserable without my daily dose of exercise. Just avoid the Fallsway and leave extra early, he said. So I did, and I was completely fine. Bypassing the Fallsway adds an extra ten minutes to my commute, but hey it's not like I don't enjoy riding, right? And I'm sure I'll find ways to shorten that commute once I ride it for a week or so.

So basically, the moral is, if life kicks you once, get back up and do what you want to do. If life kicks you twice in two days, well... still do that. Or maybe the moral is that my impatience will someday be the death of me!

(P.S. The fact that the Fallsway is in such bad condition now makes me a tad leery about the in-progress Jones Falls Bikeway, which I previously wholeheartedly supported. I think I'm going to have to get some reassurance that the lane will be cleaned on a regular basis, or else I'm going to have to ride through the city, traffic or not, at least for the four months out of the year when ice/slush is a possibility.)


  1. I think maybe your accident on the Fallsway was an isolated incident. I use it every day, year round, and have never had any problems. Are you using the separated path? If it happened on the pathless part of the Fallsway you could bypass that portion by taking Keswick to Wyman Park Rd. and taking the switchback onto the Fallsway trail. Maybe you could ride a little slower, maybe get fatter tires? I'm thinking, even though you experienced a little black ice, the Fallsway is still safer than sharing Maryland Ave. or St. Paul with traffic. (I almost wiped out on Maryland in heavy traffic a couple of weeks ago when I hit one of those potholes at North Avenue. I lost my grip on the handlebars while signaling. Terrifying. I still don't know how I stayed upright)

  2. No, I wasn't on the separated path, because I was on the part of the Fallsway before it begins (still might have technically been Clipper Mill Rd). Never thought of taking the switchback, thanks for the idea! My hybrid has 1.75" tires but I've been thinking about getting studded ice tires, the weather hasn't been bad enough to really need them yet though.

  3. I'm always leery of the pre-separated path portion of the Fallsway and Clipper Mill Rd. It's so winding and there are so many blind turns cars always seem startled when you appear in front of them. I ride it/them all the time, because it's so pretty and all, but I should probably consider bypassing and using the switchback instead. Ice tires are pretty rare in our climate. I could see putting them on a backup bike for those minority sub-freezing mornings we get, but they could really inhibit riding for our typical winter conditions, especially with this being a La Nina year

  4. Looks painful. I imagine it hurts when bending your knee to pedal?

  5. Actually, not so bad when I'm pedaling, moreso when I'm walking or bending down. It has a loud crack to it now that wasn't there before. Also blinding pain whenever I accidentally put weight on it, which could be because the scab is finally coming off. But hey, it could have been much worse!

  6. Ow. That looks pretty epic to me! Glad it wasn't worse, though, and that you are doing okay.