Tuesday, December 21, 2010

If You Aren’t Bleeding, You Aren’t Trying Hard Enough

One of my favorite mantras that I use to motivate myself and Jakob is, “If you aren’t bleeding, you aren’t trying hard enough.” I can’t remember when I heard it for the first time. It might have even been childhood. It seems like I have said it forever. Anyhow, today I was definitely trying hard enough. It has been quite awhile since I last crashed the bike. I ended a long crash free streak last week with my fall on the ice. This week it was another slippery surface. If I keep telling these stories I’m going to gain a reputation as a real klutz.

Like the day with the ice, I hadn’t really expected to encounter any adverse weather conditions. Actually, I hadn’t for the entire trip to work. It was a standard, overcast, cool and cloudy winter morning. I was enjoying the traffic level of downtown. The university’s finals were last week. The students were all now on Christmas break and the last 2 miles of the commute had far fewer cars than usual.

The best part of the ride was playing with a dump truck for a couple miles. He passed me just before having to stop at a red light. One of my favorite games is trying to stay with any car that passes me for as long as possible. The light turned green as I was approaching the back of the truck. All vehicles leave an area of disrupted air behind them. If you can get into that space, you can ride without any wind resistance. A bus, or dump truck, leaves an even larger area behind it than a smaller car. For the next mile I was able to draft behind him at a surprisingly fast pace. I always stay to one side and remain ready for them to suddenly stop. A face full of dump truck would not be the way to start a day off right. Unfortunately, our paths eventually separated and I had to face the wind on my own for the rest of the trip.

As I pulled into the parking lot at work, I let my traffic vigil down and began to relax. I have to ride across a large parking lot before making the final turn down the hill into the underground garage I park the bike in. The lot is a well maintained, freshly coated field of asphalt. Any moisture on the ground makes it extremely slippery on the bike. I hadn’t encountered any damp areas on my way in though so I was not expecting it to be slick. Fresh off of busy traffic filled roads, I often speed through the lot and lean hard into the final corner heading down the ramp into the garage. As I leaned into the turn this morning, I noticed the layer of morning mist covering the asphalt. It was about that time the back tire started to slide and down I went.

Of course I didn’t do this when nobody was watching. There was a vehicle coming out of the garage at the time and another one pulling in behind me. Like last week, it was another very graceful fall. Luckily, one of the rare skills I have is a tendency to wipe out in a well controlled fashion. I went down on my left hip and knee like I was sliding into a stolen base. I don’t think I was on the ground for even a full second before popping back onto my feet. Both cars pulled up with open windows to make sure I was alright. I was disappointed with myself that I missed another golden opportunity to jump to my feet and yell, “TADA!” One of these times I will remember. Instead I said, “I’m good, that happens all the time!” All the time might be a slight exaggeration but it sure seems like it the last 2 weeks.

The only damage done was a small abrasion on my hip and on my knee. The strange thing is how I managed to scrape the skin off both places without tearing a hole in my thin polyester pants. Tomorrow I think I will take that last corner a little slower.


  1. Ah, mileage: December 13-Bike 80, Run 23.

  2. I've done that slide-out on the parking lot myself under those same conditions. Roads completely dry, but the humidity collects on that asphalt. As a matter of fact, I've still got a lump on my hip from it, and that happened a good four years ago!

    Enjoy your blog, man. I've read it from end-to-end. Good job!