Well, it’s been about a week since I rode last. Not all my fault but some of it was. A business trip out of town and rain wasn’t my fault but laziness was. Because of that, I was planning on calling this post “No More Excuses.” You see, as I’m riding I’m concentrating on riding good but also letting my mind wander to different things. One of the things I think about is what to title the post for that day’s ride. Because it had been a week since I’d ridden, and because I felt bad about it, I was set to title this post No More Excuses. Before the end of the ride, though, events would cause me to change it.

My alarm went off at 5:00 AM as always for a weekday ride. I’d gotten a decent amount of sleep last night and felt ok. Maybe too much because I felt like I was in a fog for the first few minutes of the ride. After that, though, I began to come back to reality. The weather was good and there was actually a little chill in the air. That was nice considering the 90F days we’ve been having recently. It was chilly enough that I rode with my jersey zipped up. No moon in the sky so it was dark.

Starting off my legs felt….weird. They didn’t feel bad and didn’t feel great. They just kind of felt there. It was a weird feeling. They began to warm up and for the first time in a long time, I started to feel it in my quads near the end of my ride. A little discomfort in my hamstrings wasn’t uncommon but for me to feel it in my quads was new. I spent many years lifting weights and have very muscular quads that usually have no trouble doing whatever I ask of them. Maybe this is a sign that I’m making progress. Or maybe it’s a result of not riding in a week. Or maybe I’m just getting old. Not sure.

For a Wenesday there seemed to be very little traffic and until I reached my halfway point I didn’t see another rider, runner, or walker. The rider I did see was the Christmas Tree dude. He was going the opposite direction on a divided highway so I didn’t get a chance to say “Hi.” I did see some roadkill (a dead racoon) laying in the road but he had seen better days. It’s funny-yesterday, my wife had picked me up a new t-shirt that was from a place called the Roadkill Cafe here in town. The shirt is awesome. Little did I realize that both the racoon and tshirt were trying to tell me something.

I power through No Man’s Land and begin the 3 mile straightaway back home. I cruise these last few miles and with about a half mile to go I take it to the sidewalk. I take to the sidewalk because near the end of my ride there’s a big intersection and when I hit it on my return leg it’s very busy this time of the morning. Rather than mess with the traffic light and cars I hit the sidewalk and use the crosswalk. So, this morning I did the same thing. I’m riding down the sidewalk with no problems. I get to about 100 feet from the crosswalk and stop pedaling so I can just coast to the intersection. That’s when it happens. I feel a big jolt and the next thing I know I’m flying to the left and my bike is leaving the ground. I hit the ground hard and before I know it, it’s over except for the pain.

The first thing I notice is that my mouth is full of dirt. That would turn out to be a good thing. Then I notice my left leg and shoulder are hurting. I had somehow managed to get my pedals unclipped and I’m laying on the ground next to my bike which is laying half in the grass and half on the sidewalk. I remove my helmet and begin to survery the damage. It takes several seconds to get all the dirt out of my mouth. Once that’s done I look at my leg. I’ve got a huge piece of roadrash below my left knee that is just starting to seep blood. In a few seconds the blood has run from the rash to my ankle where I have a small cherry just above my sock. That’s when I see the huge knot just below my knee. This thing is huge and has a big red cherry on it. It starts to bleed. My shoulder is sore from hitting the ground. I get up and nothing feels broken. Whew! I pick up my bike, put the chain back on, and set it against a small tree just off the sidewalk. Now I try to figure out what happened. I look back up the sidewalk and I immediately see it. About every fifty feet or so on this road there’s a drain at the curb that leads to a box culvert under the sidewalk which in turn leads to drainage pipes under the sidewalk/road. At each of these curb drains there’s a small access cover on the sidewalk. In order to integrate the access cover with the sidewalk there’s a seam that curves about halfway onto the sidwalk following the contour of the access plate. At the point where I crashed there’s one of these curb drains. The seam that curves into the sidewalk looks to have a gap in it just wide enough for a bike tire to fit into. My guess is that my tire slipped into this small gap and caused me to crash. I must have hit that gap perfectly because it doesn’t look much wider than my tire. Unbelievable. Looking at the distance between where my shoulder hit the ground and the gap and it’s about ten feet. No wonder my leg looks like it got run through a meat grinder. If my recollection is correct, my tire briefly become caught in the gap and it threw me and my bike to the left. My left shoulder hit the ground first followed by my left leg dragging down the sidewalk for several feet. Maybe as far as 6-8 feet. I look where my shoulder hit and I realize just how lucky I was. My shoulder hit square in the dirt next to the sidewalk and left a huge gouge. If my shoulder had hit the sidewalk I’d most likely be suffering from a broken collarbone right now. Man I was lucky.

I get back on the bike and make it across the intersection with no problems. As I head across the crosswalk I can only imagine what the drivers are thinking as the blood is running down my leg. As I’m pedaling the last quarter mile home my left leg is starting to ache pretty good. I get home and immediately head to the shower to get everything cleaned up. The shower hurts initially but I eventually get everything clean. It looks pretty bad. I think the knot below my knee has actually gone down some. I wake up my wife to help me bandage the carnage. She sprays on an antiobiotic for cuts and scrapes. According to the can it’s not supposed to hurt. Yeah right. It was excruciating! Once the pain subsided we bandaged everything up. I’m sore but able to move around ok. What a morning! I’ll post the numbers for the ride later.

How was that for a return to riding after a week off? These last few weeks have been unbelievable. I almost wonder if somebody is trying to tell me something. I will say one thing though…No More Excuses!