dazzling bikes at varying intervals stretched out before me like
glinting, multi-colored pearls strung on an invisible weaving
thread out past the dappled morning haze and into the bright sunlight.
I began targeting and picking off each...one at a time.
It was the
Country Roads Tour. Since my job was to sweep the 62 mile course
making sure there were no problems, I saluted each rider as I passed
with a quick, "How's it going. How's your ride?" Each was returning
an enthusiastic, "Great, thanks!"
The hot, lung
bursting and seemingly endless iterations of rise making up the
Eagle's Nest climb were a distant memory as I converged on the
shorter rides. I had just blown by another rest stop and was in full
should have taken a closer look at the riders being passed. Although
I was catching them after I had gone out two hours later than the
official start of the 62, these were no Pokers but strong riders on
the 40 mile course. Maybe knowing that would have prompted me to
check my trip computer for my speed. As it was I had no way to
anticipate what horror the next few moments held. I was just passing
one, then another.
final rider I glanced over my shoulder as the sparkling spokes of
their front wheel receded behind me...plenty of room to move over. I
drifted to the right and spun the pedals hard while looking up the
road for more riders. Reaching down into the drops...SIZZLE...CHUNK...POW!
It felt like
my back wheel had fallen off its spokes. For a clattering, shuffling
instant I thought, "Not another flat?" Immediately the same shudder
and commotion shouted from my front tire and I thought, "Two flats
at once!?!" I was now skating sideways on two worthless wheels,
chattering towards the road's shoulder with brakes full on and not a
hint of slowing. Best choice was to straighten into the grass and
wrong with my bike?
I stood on
the pedals and descended into the waist high grass to a long series
of soul pounding jolts. The noise was incredible. I couldn't see
what was beneath the grass but took a desperate inventory of what I
remembered of the roadside, "Were rocks below? Did I see culverts,
holes, grates? Didn't I see trees somewhere? I'm sure there were
trees...how far to the trees? I've got to come down somewhere and
into the grass, I saw branches reaching up.
clatter evaporated like a burst bubble. I was weightless. Both hands
in the drops, I watched as my pristine yellow bike turned a graceful
cartwheel slowly beneath me. Then the handlebars turned my hands to
the right and dipped into the grass...THUD. Like a hardball slammed
into a catcher's mitt, something had grabbed my shoulder and held
"I've stopped...well, Ohhh,K! Stopped is a GOOD thing." All was quiet.
ran up behind me. "That was perfect! You handled that just right! That's just what you should have done!" Maybe they were right.
Later my trip
computer's printout showed that I was going 36.6 mph and
accelerating. The computer
samples every 5 seconds, so it
otherwise only showed that 5 seconds later I was at 0 mph.
A return to
the crash site revealed that I had hit a turn with significantly
less radius than most T's while going more than twice the speed
suggested. There were a half dozen warnings along the downhill to
the turn. The official road sign indicated 15 mph, while the ride
committee had posted extra warning signs plus some road graffiti. I
hadn't seen any of it, had no idea how fast I was going and no idea
I was on a curve?endorphin madness.
I don't know
if my jump to 0 was early or late in the 5 second sampling interval,
so I can't say if the other riders were correct and my handling of
the situation was "perfect." I only know my clavicle was well broken
and a couple of ligaments were blown as well...a quasi-dislocated
shoulder. I was brought to ground within three feet of the trees and
barely avoided becoming a bug on the windshield of the forest.
helmet had not a scratch. A slight truing of my front wheel was
I recount all
this for two reasons. The first is because I always listen very
closely to wreck descriptions hoping to find something in them that
will assure me that I can avoid taking the same route with similar
results. I assume other riders will be very pleased to note the
level of stupidity exhibited here places them at very little risk of
repeating my performance.
reason I relate this is to preface a modest proposal for improving
the posted warnings for next year's Country Roads ride. This year's
ample signage should be retained but with the following additions:
On the apron
of that turn, we could have Randy (R&), Flash Dick and Jimmy dressed
in Bozo the Clown suits, sounding Clara-Belle type air horns and
singing in full voice "She'll be Coming Round the Mountain"...all the
while alternating between dancing the polka and doing the moon walk.
It might help to place a large highway construction sign behind them
flashing the words, "HEY?A...HOLE...SLOW DOWN!"
it's pretty clear that these few additional warnings would not have
had a twit of impact on me, but they might help someone who is
paying the slightest attention.
This should also help other OCBC
riders remain confident they never have to take the same hayride as
I hope that next year's committee will take my humble suggestion
It might also be a good idea for the Club to
institute a membership screening process to make sure a chuckle
headed poser like me never gets close to owning a club jersey.
As for me,
I'll just dwell on my wife's comment: "I don't know why you didn't
just stay on the road. That's what I would have done on my horse!"
Why didn't I think of that?
Next time I get myself in a similar
situation, I'll merely suspend the laws of physics until I get
through the turn.
comments came from Jimmy, "How's your helmet? Did you hit your head?
Do you remember the fifty dollars I lent you? How about when you
told me I could have your bike?"
And from Don
Stark, "Well, sooner or later everybody takes a hayride."