The Elkridgean Cyclist: Mishaps vs. Happiness

Everyone has good days and bad days, but ouch!

After fussing about the heat all week, I got out on my bike Saturday morning, August 11th, before the heat cranked up. I'd been neglecting my bike for days at a time because I hate heat and humidity (whine whine whine). It was in my mind that I needed to make a new attempt up the "Highway to Heaven" (riding up Ilchester Road from the River to Our Lady of Perpetual Help). It had been a month since I'd done anything like it, because when I commute to work by bike, I feel like I get enough hills. But there's nothing quite like Ilchester in my usual pedaling grounds. I was in a time crunch because I had company from out of town and we wanted to go to the B&O Museum, and I yapped with them too much before finally getting out. So it was going to be a quick but intense ride. I went down Lawyers Hill Road (weee!) and pedaled along the river which was lovely as always. I got to the end of the Grist Mill Trail at Ilchester Road and realized that was the VERY DAY of the "Highway To Heaven" time trials. The last thing I wanted to do was get in anyone's way as I take my 17 (maybe 20 now) minute huff-and-puff way up that hill, so I went around the slightly long way, up Bonnie Branch to Beechwood. There is nothing easy about that route either, so though I had a little planning mishap, it was still a good workout. I felt like I wanted to stop about 3/4 of the way up Beechwood, but there was another cyclist about 100 feet behind me, and I was determined to show that I could do it. Looking back in my mirror, I noticed that they stopped exactly where I wanted to stop!

Pride goeth before a fall, as they say. That is what they say anyway, right? The following Monday evening, it wasn't TOO hot and we were dangerously low on milk and bananas so I decided to ride to the store. Again, time crunch. I wanted to get home before it got dark. I went to the store, delayed the cashier because I had to pack up my groceries myself in just the right way for my panniers, and loaded up my bike. I got all ready to start home when I noticed my chain was off. I don't know how that could have happened, but I'm clumsy, and my bike is old. So I leaned over to fix the chain when the whole bike went over, with me on top. The eggs and cookies were in the pannier that was now on the bottom. But that was nothing, because in the course of the fall, my thumb bent back way too far. Ouch! I was in so much pain that I saw stars, and when the stars cleared, they came back. I didn't think I should ride home in that condition, and the sun was looking alarmingly low so I had to make a choice. I called home and my son rescued me. So humiliating. But also very sweet.

The eggs and cookies were fine, but my right thumb is badly sprained. You know, our thumbs are really very important. My son says they're what set us apart from dogs. I don't know about that, but I'm glad I have them, and can't wait for this one to heal. I have developed a new-found appreciation for thumbs. Luckily, my hybrid bike has grip gear changers (I don't know the technical term for that) whereas my other two bikes have levers that require thumb action. I was able to ride again the next Thursday morning. I was scheduled to be off work anyway because I was taking my Dad to visit his home in West Virginia. Because of my sprained thumb, I didn't want to bring my bike on this trip so I wanted to get some riding in before we left. It was one of those days where it seems a shame to be inside in an office anyway. The heat broke, the sun was shining, the sky was a crisp blue, the freshly mowed grass smelled so good, and the cicadas were doing their best to drown out the area traffic. I couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear, except when I had to change gears with my right hand. It was awkward even with the grips. But I managed with one good hand and one bad paw.

It was another 10 days before I had to nerve to try riding to the market again, but this little piggy went to market by bike just the other day. No mishaps! (Well, my Klondike Bars were a little melted). My thumb still hurts.

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