I’m a gravel grinder at heart. I live in a rural community with numerous smaller dairy farms that dot the landscape. With the exception of the road thru town, everything else is gravel country roads, most made violently washboard by the farm equipment. In dry weather the roads that haven’t been brined can become downright unpleasant due to the clouds of dust that get churned up by passing traffic.
This past Wednesday evening was nearly an ideal night for a ride. The temperature and humidity had dropped. A light breeze from WNW at about 6 MPH had my bike calling to me from the garage. After dinner, I headed out. The majority of the ride was uneventful. I was nearing the end of a 15 miler, and had decided to come back thru town to avoid the choking dust being churned up by the silage trucks rumbling to and from one of the dairy farms.
Although it is a single stoplight town, the paved road thru it does have a generous bike lane/shoulder. Shortly after turning onto the road I noticed a couple of small shiny wood screws on the pavement in the bike lane. These were fresh, as they weren’t there the night before. They got my attention in a hurry, as I have flatted out there before. As I rode on I saw more of them, dozens and dozens of this lethal shrapnel. A bit further on I passed a kid beside an upside down bike, beside the bike lane, closely examining his rear wheel. Vigilant, I pressed on, climbed the small hill heading out of town, past the gas station, all the while dodging and hopping out of harm’s way.
Or so I thought.
I was head’s down, attentively focused on my Texas two-step with the screws when a nearby sharp scream caused me to lock my brakes and nearly stand my bike on its front wheel. This was an unplanned, slower speed, abrupt stop. I pitched forward, the fork springs sagged under the additional load, and I kinda fell/slid off my saddle, decidedly ungracefully mind you, man parts mashed in an unholy union with the top tube. The pain was almost beyond description. Apart from cardiac function, pretty much all other neural activity was instantly shorted out. In that moment my body wanted to simultaneously retch, crap, piss, cry, cough and collapse. In blinding, paralyzing pain, I tripped out of the pedals and had only enough coordination to hold onto the bar ends. I’m not exactly sure how it was that I didn’t fall over completely.
I looked up and there standing about 3 feet in front of me, glaring at me with all the enmity of her Asian ancestors, was a very attractive young woman talking on her cell phone. She eyed me warily, like I was a drunken crazed cretin.
What do you say? Eyes brimming with tears, buckled knees, unable to speak intelligibly, and what did come out sounding like a gurgling, raspy death rattle, and desperately fighting the need to fall over and curl up into a fetal position, I spotted one of the screws I had been dodging on the ground. I reached down, picked it up, and held it out between my thumb and forefinger for her to see.
She smiled, started giggling, and said “maybe later” as she brushed past me and continued on her way.
Not exactly sure what she was thinking. It was a painful, slow limp home those last two miles.
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98 Schwinn Moab 1, 98 Schwinn Moab custom build, 2012 Surly Crosscheck, 98 project