Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Less than 24 hours after signing up for my first 1/2 ironman, I crashed on my single speed on my way home from work. With only 7 weeks left of training, this does not feel like a good sign.
With gas prices rising and my road rage on overload, this summer I decided to trade in my 45+ minute drive for a single speed and a lightrail ticket book. Each morning I get up and get ready for work, put my lunch, wallet, phone and kindle into my Patagonia bag, grab Stella (that's my single speed bike's name) and head out. There is a light rail station 3 blocks from our house, but I opt for the one a mile away so I don't have to switch trains later, plus, it's good exercise. I validate my ticket and jump on the F Line. At my stop, I grab my bike and climb off, ride up a steep hill, across a very busy road, through a parking lot, and about a mile later I am at work. I get to feel the wind in my hair and breathe the fresh air every morning, and I do it all over again every afternoon.
As much as I have been enjoying this, about 2 weeks ago, the new commute has been testing me.
One evening on my way home, the train stopped at one of the regularly scheduled stops, at which the conductor came over the PA and said "Sorry folks, it looks like we will be stopped here for a while, downtown is flooded and the trains can't get through. There is more than 4" of water above the tracks." 4 inches! It had just started raining shortly before, so I couldn't believe how bad it already was. After 25 minutes of sitting there, the conductor came around and told us they were taking the train back south saying, "If you want to go south, stay on, if you want to go north, get off." I was only a couple of miles from home, so decided to weather the storm and ride home. As soon as I got out of the tunnel I was soaking wet. Downtown was a mess! Traffic was at a dead standstill, cars spilled into the intersections unable to move, water was flowing down the sidewalks (when you could actually discern them AS sidewalks), entryways to tall buildings were flooded, lightning struck over downtown several times in the largest bursts I have ever seen, and thunder shook the buildings. It was like armageddon, I swear! There were times where the water was more than halfway up my tires and a couple of times where I couldn't even ride. A car drove by at one point and sent a wave up over my shoulder soaking me to the bone. At the intersection infront of my house, I had to lift my bike onto my shoulder and carry it and was almost knocked over by the rushing water.
I feel like I should have given up on this alternative commute that day. Instead I pressed on and got rained on 3 more times in the week that followed. (At least I had a rain jacket those times)
Yesterday, as I was riding home a storm was brewing to the west. I wanted to get home before it hit.
I was riding a slightly different way than normal and had to cross a couple of sets of light rail tracks. First one, no problem. Second one, no problem. But when a passing car came a little too close for my liking, I swerved to distance myself and my front tire slipped into the gap in the tracks, stopping my bike and sending me off and sliding into the road. The aforementioned car swerved to miss me and the car behind it slammed on it's brakes. The driver stopped to make sure I was okay and to make sure no one else hit me. It all happened so fast. I laid there for a second and took note of my body parts. Nothing seemed to be missing, and I started to get up. It took me a second, but I got up and gathered my bike as some guys walking by on the sidewalk rushed over to help me. They took my bike and made me sit down. I insisted that I was fine, but they thought I was just in shock, and quite frankly, I think I was too. At that moment I was more embarrassed than anything.
It wasn't for a minute or so that I realized I was bleeding (from more places than one), but as I thanked them and assured them that I was okay, they finally left me. I was wearing cute new summer sandles, and the left one had broken, so I knew I wouldn't be able to ride with it. I stood up and started walking and noticed that my handlebars were completely cockeyed. Luckily I was only a few blocks from home and could not wait to get there. As I contemplated calling husband to come get me, I saw a man coming towards me. He was the driver who had stopped on the road to protect me, and insisted that I let him drive me home. The adrenaline was starting to leave me now and the reality of the situation was hitting, with tears coming to my eyes, I accepted the ride.
When I got home Husband met me at the door (as he normally does) and I started crying. I told him I didn't want to ride my bike anymore. He hugged me, got me a bag of ice, and surveyed my wounds which had started to swell and ooze. At one point he started to smile and I asked if he was laughing at me, when he replied "No" I realized that he was proud of my war wounds.
The scrapes are all superficial, and should heal without much notice after a few days covered in bandaids and gauze. I think it's my pride and ego that are the most bruised. Despite what I said when I got home, I will get back on my bike, I will keep commuting by train and bike to work, and I will keep training for the 1/2 ironman in September. But I will definitely be more cautious when riding around train tracks in the future!