Thursday, March 01, 2007

2000 Mile Crack Up

About 25° and cloudy when I headed out at 6:00 am. I was extra careful knowing that puddles from last night were now patches of ice this morning. My pounding the pedals yesterday caused me to feel a little sluggish today as I biked into a slight wind.

Trudging up Isabella, way up ahead I saw a bicyclist cross my path where Sheridan turns into Ridge. As I continued on my route I saw he preceded me. I dialed it up a bit and finally closed in on him in downtown Evanston. From the rear I saw it was Troy, a gentleman I've known for a few years through activities with my sons. I greeted him and we shared the ride. I knew he was a tandem owner so I asked about it as my wife and I also hope to own one some day. I don’t normally like talking and biking in traffic but it was still pretty early and not many cars were out yet.

Once we got on the Lakefront Trail we were joined by a mountain bike rider. The mountie kept a pretty quick pace and eventually passed us. I had no desire to keep up with him as the path was really icy. Eventually we did catch up and stayed with him in his slipstream. I passed him and offered to let him draft for a while. Soon I had to slow for some ice and Troy took the lead. The mountain biker came up beside me and we talked a bit. He told me he bikes to work every day. I guess the mountain biker preferred to ride in front because he took over the lead again and allowed Troy and I to draft. We continued in a pace line all the way to North Avenue.

Just south of the North Avenue pedestrian bridge the path branches off. I opt for the route closer to Lake Shore Drive but I guess the mountain biker prefers the route passing the beach house. I followed along and found the route sloppy with deep puddles and ice. Troy and the mountain biker were going to break off and head for the underpass while I was to continue south. As I was about to say good bye I lost control on an icy patch and wiped out. All morning I'd been extremely wary of the path conditions and the one time I let my guard down I bite it.

It was my worst spill yet. I felt myself tumble along the pavement knocking my shoulder, knee, and hand. When I eventually came to rest my left wrist was sore and various pieces of bike gear were strewn about. Troy retrieved my helmet tail light and I picked my GPS out of some slush. I waved the mountain biker off and told Troy I was ok but he didn't seem convinced. I was a bit shaken up but only my wrist bothered me. I again assured Troy I was fine and we went our separate ways. My bike survived the fall with only minor tearing of the handlebar tape. But I was a bit worried how well I'd manage the rest of the ride with an aching left wrist. At least nothing was broken.

I continued at a slower pace until I cleared my head of the crash. My wrist didn't bother me too much as long as I didn't move it. Fortunately the Oak Street Curve was generally clear. The frozen slush and puddles on the path after the curve presented the most challenging biking I've ever encountered on my commute. The surface was a combination of rough chunky snow and ice. Had my wrist not been injured it might have been a little fun. South of Chicago Avenue the path cleared some and the route was less treacherous.

South of Illinois I stopped to adjust my helmet, take a drink, and continue to get my head back together. I saw the mount for my Planet Bike helmet blinky was busted. Bummer. I continued the rest of my ride slower than my usual pace. Getting banged up in one way or another tends to drain me. My rear derailleur was also acting up again.

I got to work without any more drama and assessed the damage. I skinned my left knee and shoulder, probably sprained my left wrist, scuffed up my jacket, put a hole in my already holey long underwear, and put a crack in the plastic cover of my helmet. The funny thing is that I really don't remember hitting my head.

That morning I called Planet Bike about my light mount. They directed me to their website where I later purchased a replacement for only $5 shipped. Nice!

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2018.5 miles
Price of gas: $2.59

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