It finally happened. After a year and a half of riding The Phoenix I took a spill tonight. And it’s all my fault on several levels. See the drivetrain on The Phoenix had been cranky of late, doing a lot of creaking and groaning and crackling. I replaced the pedals Wednesday hoping that was the depth of the problem but it went deeper than that. Into the bottom bracket.

So I went online that day and rustled up a new crank set and bottom bracket and it arrived today and I put it together. The trouble was even though the two components were supposed to be compatible, they weren’t. All because the little splines on the bottom bracket’s spindle that are supposed to slot into the corresponding grooves of the crank, didn’t.

But instead of just quitting while I was ahead I decided I’d torque the cranks as tight as they would go and maybe just maybe the splines and grooves would all just mesh miraculously. Of course they didn’t and I knew they didn’t, and despite the voices inside my head telling me don’t do it I decided I would test her out on the way to tonight’s Midnight Ridazz ride and if she felt gimpy, I’d turn her around and swap her for my ready steady Giant OCR roadbike and deal with repairing The Phoenix another day.

Sure enough, after meeting Manny and setting out across Sunset to our Echo Park destination, it became clear that the cranks were not right and so at the intersection of Sunset and Alvarado I told Manny I was going to turn around and go get my other bike and that it would only take me five minutes or so. Having crossed Alvarado I made a u-turn and came back up to the red light. Just as it turned green I pushed down on the right pedal and all was fine, but then one the second push the crank fully collapsed downward throwing me forward onto the handle bars and me and the bike onto the street. Sitting up to assess I heard laughter from the bus stop on the corner and after I judged myself scraped but nothing worse I picked myself and the bike up off the asphalt and came over to curb where a string of young punks were standing. They had stopped laughing by then. But I was curious so I said.

“You think that’s some funny shit? Why aren’t you laughing now!”

To which one of them said “I wasn’t laughing at you” and then something about hurting his foot.

And I replied well I heard some of you laughing at me while I was eating the street so which one of you was it?”

Nothing.

“Come on now, don’t be cowardly. Why don’t you step up?

Wisely no one stepped up so I called them punks who’d be crying like babies if the same thing had happened to them only I wouldn’t be laughing I’d be coming over to help their sorry asses and then I set the bike down and punched a newstand beside me. Then I cussed until the light was green and I picked the bike back up and started across Alvarado, where two people on the opposite corner who saw me spill were kind and concerned enough to ask if I was OK. I told them I was and they shook their heads in surprise because apparently the fall looked pretty bad, but other than a big scrape on my left elbow and some soreness along my right ribs I seemed all right.

The Phoenix wasn’t though. Besides the crapped out cranks she’s gonna need new handlebars which I saw were seriously bent. And the water bottle cage was broken, too. I didn’t even look to see how much paint got scraped off. Instead I went another block and after crossing Mohawk used the water in the bottle to rinse out the damage to my elbow. Then a couple more people passed me who also must have seen it becuse they inquired if I was OK. I thanked them and said I was and one of them told me to “be careful.”

I coasted the bike most of the rest of the way home and though I thought about opening the garage and making the bike switch and just getting on with things so as not to alarm Susan, I decided not to keep covert and went upstairs to tell her.

While there I took the hydrogen peroxide to the elbow — yeouch it stung! — and I took a look at my sore ribs surprised to find a long angry red and bleeding scrap going practically from nipple to navel (Sean Bonner got a picture of it later here). I can only think that after the crank broke and I collapsed forward my right side landed on the sharply angled handlbar stem and traveled along it. It definitely didn’t look good and gave Susan a bit of a tearful fright but other than some bruising it was entirely superficial in nature. In comparison my elbow looking a bit like raw hamburger. There was also some minor abrasions on my left calf and my hands.

After some more peroxide on all the wounds — yeouch it really stung when applied to the damage along my ribs — and then enough Neosporin to send their stock price up I told Susan I still wanted to ride and that I’m not as hurt as I look but that I’d leave it to her discretion, and if she said she didn’t want me to then I would abide by her wishes and not go.

With some reservations she said she was all right with letting me go play. And after telling her I’d be doubly triple safe and that my fall with The Phoenix wouldn’t have happened if I’d only listened to the voice that warned me, I hopped on the Giant and went and bought a big old Pabst Blue Ribbon from House of Spirits and then found Stephen Roullier and Manny and Sean Bonner and Spencer Cross and his gal Delmy and related the crash and showed off my wounds and also met a cool dude named Miles who’d come up from San Diego for the occasion. The ride itself didn’t get rolling until about 10:30 and was fun and uneventful and I was glad Susan understood the importance of me getting right back on the horse so quickly. And that I did so safely.

As to how sore I’ll be in the morning? We’ll see.

Pix of the ride are here in this Flickr photoset.

UPDATE (06.09): Well I’m up this Saturday morning with minimal bitching but rocking some pretty good soreness… mostly muscular though in my legs. No previously undiscovered scrapes or cuts have presented themselves, but I do have a golfball-sized bruise on the back of my right thigh. The whole cleaning-out-the-wounds early was certainly a very good idea and has contributed to my willing and ableness to get back on my bike in a few minutes and pedal over to volunteer with the L.A. County Bike Coalition helping mark the route of their 7th Annual Los Angeles River Ride tomorrow morning. I did the same thing last year.