Bike Accidents and Collision Courses

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Today, I found myself in the unusual position of actually feeling nervous about riding my bike. For some reason, and maybe it was because I'd watched a TV Show called Medium before sleeping, and maybe because I dreamt I was in the future, I had a sneaking suspicion that it would be a great day to wear a helmet. Unfortunately, because of my oversize head, I usually hate wearing helmets. It's one thing to look like you have a head that's made for TV. It's another thing altogether to look like your head should be drained of fluid.

But, I borrowed a helmet off one of my landladies, a pink number, and scooted out.

It was strange, the helmet thing. Somehow, when you feel even slightly protected, the rest of you becomes an idiot. I was going at top gear around the city, ripping around, skidding through corners, squeezing between turning cars, doing everything right. It's like a drug... or a video game. You just go without jamming on the brakes, and when it's all right, you're just sucking in breath and laughing.

That is until I flipped my gears down too fast, my bike made a ka-chunk sound, and for some reason, the chain jammed. I was pedalling rather fast, and my legs were pushing quite a motion, so suddenly they flew off and I found myself completely wobbly, at a major intersection next to a gigantic square... I almost wiped out. By the grace of my reflexes and sobriety, something in my body recovered enough so that I skidded right, then left, then had the wherewithal to skid full left and pull to a stop on the other side of the road... It must have been strange for the streetcar behind me.

So, no damage. Gears still working... and then I get to where I'm going, park my bike and look down. The inside of the right calf is completely scraped by my gears. I've got some fucked up Maori tattoo slithered all on the inside. So I go to the bathroom to clean up, the grease takes forever to come off, until I realize I'm brushing in the wrong direction... that I'm rubbing the grease into my wound. Let me emphasize this, I felt almost no pain.

I guess I must have been in shock or something... no biggee.. it's happened to be me before. The last major accident I can remember was on my way to an exam, a long time ago. (I won't count the time I fell off the back when doubling with Dacnar, save that I landed neatly on my overloaded silver backpack, and spent the next 10 seconds, weighed down, with legs and arms pawing the air... exactly like a flipped turtle, but that was funny and involved no blood)

Yeah, it was ages ago, back in the day when I went to a real university. I was, as everyone knows, late late late, for an important date... the exam for one of my english lit classes, maybe even like my modern drama class... something about Strindberg flying through my brain... anyways, I was cutting straight and fast on Queen St., through the Spadina intersection, when suddenly, whoof, hands skidding on the road, and, thump... thighs flopping behind. I was spreadeagled, ready for business, all over the asphalt. I pulled myself up, and, true to form, checked the bike... it seemed none the worse for wear... so I hauled us back to the corner, where a man, holding a starbucks coffee, suddenly said to me: "did you get the licence plate?"

"That car," he points on the right, a silver coupe speeding off, "he clipped your back tire."
He looks at me again... "Are you sure you're ok?"
"Yup... gotta go."

Hop back on the bike and speed off. After all, I need to get at least a B on the exam if I want to keep my A, which I do want to have because I knew I bloody messed up my post-modern english lit class (morning=fucking instead of going to class; and whenever I did attend, I related everyone from Margaret Drabble to Julian Barnes to my sex life; teacher went from amused to consternation when hand started flagging in air). So, I want that A, and I get into the hall a touch late, settle in, and get ready to write my exam.

That's when the examiner comes over, and asks me if I need to see a nurse...
"A nurse."
"I don't need a nurse... just give me a band aid and give me my exam."

He hands me the exam, and walks off. I start to write, and about 20 minutes into writing, I start to get shooting pains all over my hands and elbows and knees. I finally take a pause and look down... my knee is bleeding through my pants... my elbows are bleeding through my shirt... and I don't even bother to look at my hands because the occasional rusty smears are telling me all I need to know.

I excuse myself to go to the bathroom and watched the grit off my wounds, then settle back, where, surprisingly, I find myself enjoying the exam questions. It's amazing how much fun an exam can be when you like the subject and can actually write about it coherently.

And that's the story... I went home, studied for another exam, and pedalled off again the next day. Bike accidents are just one of those things that, when serious enough, can take you out of commission. I do encourage people to wear helmets, even I don't always abide myself. But, having strong passions and desires can over-rule any pain you have.

And that's the story of me and my bicycle race.


This story was also inspired by the news I just received, half an hour ago, via Gasp that Queenie got into a bike crash on the Belleville hill. Apparently rouler bourré (drunk driving) applies to bicycles too. Alas, nothing more than minor bruises and an elephant man face. But her bike and the back of that car are totalled. So maybe the gods were warning the wrong Scorpio.