Jun 13, 2013

The Summer of Trying Something New

This is what I hope will be the first in a series of three (perhaps more) posts that I'm calling "The Summer of Trying Something New."

I didn't really plan it this way. It just happened. Here's the first: bicycling. I've certainly had a bicycle before, but not in about 10 years. I am quite lazy and, since I live on top of a bugger of a hill, I could never quite get into cycling.

But Y gave me a bicycle for my birthday (holy moly, eh?) and although it's a refurbished creature, it runs quite smoothly. I like it better for being second-hand. There are still a few problems with it though, one being that it shifts very badly. My answer to this is not to shift at all, and just to cruise along in the lowest gear.

My friends I and R helped me fix it up, with some assistance from Mountain Equipment Co-op. I got it back on Tuesday and took it out for a ride on a trail near my place today. I have to go underneath the highway and cross a small stream to get to the trail. This was the first obstacle: I discovered the stream was running fast with the recent heavy rain. It was a lot deeper than usual, and those stumps that we use to jump across were all wet and wobbly on the surface. Yikes - I'm sure some mountain bikers would just ride right through, but I'm hardly one of those types yet. I thought about aborting the mission but decided to try to cross.

It doesn't look like the stumps are so far apart in that picture, but let me tell you, some of those were quite a long stride in between, and with a steel frame bike on my shoulder, I was pretty nervous. But what's the worst that could happen, right? By the way, this is the bike.

Anyway, I got slightly stuck in the middle when I was doing the splits over the deepest part of the stream, balancing the bike in mid-air, equally far from either shore. I had to move my weight onto the next stump with my whole intention, and that really wasn't what I wanted to do, since it felt awfully rocky. No going back at that point though, so I pushed on and got across the stream. Quite proud of myself, I went on up the bank and got to the trail. It's a beautiful flat trail, very easy to ride on.

It was so easy to ride that I meandered along for about 6km, and started to think that I could go a lot further. That was when I decided to try to shift into a higher gear....and I'm not quite sure what happened after that. Later I found the chain caught along two gears, so maybe that was it. Or maybe I yanked the handlebars too hard when I was shifting.

Anyway, the first thing that hit the ground was my big toe, followed by my right knee, and my right shoulder. I rolled as I fell, and the next thing to land was my back. Last of all my (helmeted, thankfully) head snapped back, and I could hear the big loud thunk. But I wasn't hurt. I was back on my feet in a few seconds, and then a jogger ran up. He asked me if I was all right, and I said yes. "That was quite a fall," he said. I assured him I was fine. In an odd way, I felt pretty relaxed flying through the air.

I decided it was time to turn around. I meandered back another 6km, crossed the stream again, and went home.

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