Many years ago during Bike DC, I watched in amazement as a cyclist hammered up a long hill with his head down. Bam! Right into the back of a parked car. He did an Arte Johnson. As Bugs Bunny used to say, “What a maroon!” Davis Phinney once did the same thing in the Tour de France. He launched himself through the back window of a station wagon. Another maroon!
How hard is it to avoid a stationary object? I mean really??
The day started out like any other Saturday. I read the Post and managed to finish all three crossword puzzles including the tough one in the Style section of tomorrow’s paper. Then I made a to do list and set out to do it.
Item 1 was to caulk some gaps in the concrete steps leading to the house. I hate caulking but this worked out nicely.
Item 2 was to check my records on when our two Honda Accords last had oil changes. We’re still good for a month on both cars so I didn’t have to take either in for service.
Item 3 was to take the Tour Easy in to the Belle Haven Spokes Etc. shop for a new crank arm and pedal. I chatted with Fred, a mechanic who has been fixing my bikes since the late 1980s when he was working at Metropolis in Shirlington. Another mechanic ordered the crank arm and I left with hope that the Tour Easy will be on the road by next weekend.
So far, so good. Three items checked off.
Item 4 was a Utilitare ride. I needed to get my 2011 copy of Turbo Tax and some file folders from Staples. And on the way I’d pick up some tax forms for my kids at the library. Then I’d back track to the drug store to buy some medicine. Then a quick stop for some bird seed and another for a couple of lottery tickets. Very productive, no?
I started out for the library into a mighty headwind. I could barely move! Wasn’t it 70 degrees yesterday? This was nuts. I made it the half mile to the library after much effort. The library stop was, however, a bust. They didn’t have any Virginia tax forms. The last time I check Virginia charged $20 to file electronically. My kids refund would be less than that so they would be filing paper returns. Now I’ll have to download and print them. Annoying,
On to Staples into the mighty wind. I was getting no place slowly when I decided to drop my head and just grind it out. The only problem with this strategy is that when your head is down, you can’t see what’s in front of you. It dawned on me after a while that I hadn’t looked up. So I did. And there, only a few feet in front of me, was a green Honda Accord parked quite legally. Minding its own business. I reached for the brakes. Too late. Bam!
The fall was in slow motion. As I descended I could hear a voice inside my head saying, “You are such a Maroon!!!” I had the presence of mind to roll as I hit the pavement and I was going really slow thanks to the headwind. This did not make the asphalt any less hard however.
Feeling like a complete Nimrod, I stood up, gathered my trusty Sequoia and discovered that my front wheel was now a half inch of so closer to the frame than it was before the impact. Not good.
I fiddled with the fender stays as they were intersecting with the diagonal tube on the front of the bike. Then I rode on to Staples. The steering felt funny. So of course a fire engine had to force me into the curb and a redneck had to cut me off in her pick up truck. Can’t you people see that I am having a bad day here?
After I locked my bike at Staples, I took a good look at the front fork from the side. It was obviously bent. Ugh,
After buying my wares, I backtracked to the drug store. I dropped off my prescription, bought the bird seed, and the lottery tickets and headed for home. Another Utilitaire ride in the bag, but a what cost? I loaded the Sequoia onto my bike rack for the drive to Spokes, fingers crossed all the way.
At times like these you want a bike mechanic with lots of experience. Fred’s been at it for well over 20 years so I was very fortunate that he was still there. I’ve always heard that if steel bends you can usually bend it back. You can’t do this with other frame materials. I never thought I’d ever take advantage of this obscure fact. Fred checked the fork and frame for cracks and other irregularities. Finding none, he declared the Sequoia repairable. Just put it in the jig and bend it back in place. We hope.
What a relief. This bike has 29,750 miles on it. I’d hate to lose it.
On the way out of the store I took a quick look at their stock of Surly Long Haul Truckers just in case the jig is up.