If you ride someone rides a bike almost everyday they are going to encounter all sorts of things during their travels. Some of the things encountered will be awesome and some of them terrifying or death defying. The wide range of scenery one can see during a bike ride and the different terrain faced are aspects of cycling that make it so awesome. But over the past few weeks I have had way too many of those death defying experiences; today was perhaps the worst of them.
My string of crazy things happening on a bike without crashing started a few weeks ago during the second early bird crit. They continued when I did the Geyser ride up in Healdsburg, CA. During the fast and wet descent I came across a cattle grate that was hidden by the fog. Crossing the grate at 40+ mph had my front end slide out and I was lucky enough to be relaxed to coax my bike back to control. Sadly, that was the easiest and least scary of my string of weird luck.
Two weeks ago I was descending from Mt. Tam/ Muir woods with great control and comfort on my bike when all of a sudden.... my rear wheel popped out of the drops!!!!! My rear wheel did nothing to balance my bike at that point as it was flopping like a fish out of water while still stuck in the chain. I shifted my weight forward, didn't panic and gently feathered the front brake. While my bike was skidding down the steep hill I was able to unclip and safely skid to a stop. 3 bikers behind me stopped and said "holly f*ck what just happened, are you ok?" and then said "I cannot believe you stayed up." Apparently my uni-cycle skills are top notch.
Then this morning after weeks of staying up in situations where I almost certainly should have gone down it happened.... I finally went down. No this wasn't during a morning training ride or even an all out hammer fest with a cycling club, it was on my freaking commute. Nothing makes crashing worse than doing it on a crowded street looking like a turtle on its back as you try and stay up. I'm fighting off a bit of a cold so my mental focus isn't as sharp as usual. Normally I try and avoid Market Street at all costs as I think it is one of the most dangerous streets to bike on in the world (although the hundreds of bikers who take it daily may disagree).
One of the things that makes Market so dangerous are the trolly tracks in the middle of the street - which oh by the way are the exact width of a 700c road bike wheel (smart city planning). I've succesfully avoided said tracks for my 5 months living in San Francisco but today was a different story. As I looped around a bus pulling to the curb my mind forgot about the tracks for a moment, next thing I know my rear wheel is being grabbed by the iron from hell and I'm gyrating my body to try and set it free. Next thing I know I shoulder check the bus I was trying to get around, bang my knee and do a side roll that would have gotten negative points from the Russian judge to avoid flipping my bike over. As I go to pick my bike up and wheel it to the curb it won't move. Once safely on the sidewalk I realized I had totally bent my wheel's rim!
So not only do I have a bruised knee and just crashed into a bus I had to load my bike onto my shoulder and carry it for a 1/4 mile to my office! Not the best way to start off a Wednesday; thankfully was able to find a replacement rear wheel for $40 online for my single speed. As I sit here with a bruised knee and elbow which could have been far worse I ponder how I crash on a commute but can stay up when my rear wheel pops out going down a steep descent. The mysterious of biking continue.