Sat 17 Nov 2007
For as inopportune and imperfect (and avoidable) a blunder as it was mangling my right foot yesterday morning and throwing into doubt my ability to fully participate in today’s Great L.A. Walk, last night’s surprise spill on my bike was the exact opposite. As spills go, it couldn’t have gone better. And certainly could’ve gone much worse.
Here’s where it happened just about a block or so east of Highland, eastbound on Beverly:
You can see the asphalt is pretty messed up and as a result of the breaking and cracking the concrete gutter has become the receptacle for the bits of gravel that are shed.
Well, as I was cycling through this stuff (probably at no more than 15 mph) with a vehicle passing very close beside me on my left, I felt my front tire lock briefly into a crease and in the next split second kicked up over a chunk of loose roadway. It’s hard to explain it but the point of no return had arrived: the bike and I were going down.
And down we went. Fortunately though, I recognized its coming and we didn’t go down together. At my right was this expanse of curbside grass and I guess instinctively I attempted to bail off the bike onto this. The good news is I made it, somehow managing to clip out of the pedals and launch off The Phoenix. Where it gets tricky is that I really had no choice but to go it head first and as such ended up with an ant’s eye-view of the terrain while sliding on my chest, chin, mouth and nose through the grass, with all sorts of things flying off me: the helmet’s visor, my helmet-mounted mirror… over my shoulder while I was still moving my multitool came free of its pocket in my backpack and I saw it bound on beyond me.
In essence after coming to a stop fully prone I had basically mowed a few feet of lawn and had several blades of grass in my mouth and nose to show for it. I took a quick second to assess the extremities and to see if my nose was bleeding or if the burning sensation around my lips and chin was a raw gaping wound. There wasn’t. My tongue did an equipment check inside my rattled mouth and nothing was missing. Immediately after that I was up and pulling The Phoenix out of its resting place in the street, but before giving it a look-see I sat back down and allowed myself an amazed moment of clarity and thankfulness for the forgiving sod that allowed me to emerge shaken but unscathed from a roadside face plant.
The Phoenix fare delightfully well, too, suffering only a torque that took the handlebar off-center and a slight bend in one of its bullhorns. The brakes seemed a little odd, as well. So I mounted back up after realigning the bars and reattaching the visor and mirror to my helmet and returning the multitool to its rightful place in my backpack and got myself over to Orange 20 Bikeshop where I loaded up on new front and rear brake cables and housing and bar tape and a replacement handlebar (once I bend a bar I just don’t like to play with potential metal fatigue factors).
Inside the house as I was relating the tale to Susan I noticed a slight bruise on my left thigh. If there’s any other damage to discover on the bike in the daylight I’m guessing it’s mostly cosmetic.