Simple ride and punch in face

Have you ever noticed how there’s no such thing as a simple ride? Once you’re on your bike, shit happens. The reason we don’t think anything of it is because we forget most of it by the time we’re home.

Why do we forget?

Because when you’re on a bike, you’re out “in life,” where shit happens. You’re not cooped up in the car, or couch surfing, or nailed to a theater seat. You’re out in the world, going slightly more or slightly less than the speed of the world around you, unprotected from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

So much happens so quickly, and it’s all interspersed with intense activity, that when you get home all you want to do is eat, shower, and sleep. Once that’s done, the details of the ride are a distant memory, or no memory at all.

Nothing special happened today

I met up with Jeff, Harry, and Rod for a leisurely pedal from the Center of the Known Universe to Mandeville Canyon. It was California cold, which is to say in the mid 40’s which is to say that a whole lot of cyclists stayed in bed despite the clear skies and beautiful morning.

The extra effort of pulling on a pair of booties can be, like, such a drag.

After drag racing up Mandeville, with Rod playing pacemaker until he fried, and then Jeff putting King Harold and me to sword, we turned around and descended. While clipping along San Vicente’s long, fast, straight downhill at well over 30 mph, a large magnolia seed cone fell from a limb and hit me in the face.

It was such a blow that it jerked my head back. Had it not been for my glasses, which absorbed much of the blow, my eye could have been taken out. I’ve often thought that the extra wide frame of my SPY Quanta frames afforded me extra protection, but this day proved it (insert applause for shameless plug here). As it was, I was lucky to retain control and pull over. Aside from a small cut, minor bruising, and a fine string of oaths, I was unhurt.

As we pedaled on, Jeff reminded Rod of the time that a giant piece of steel had flown up and hit him in the shin. “Remember that?” asked Jeff.

As if anyone ever forgets excruciating pain! “Oh, hell yes,” said Rod. His entire shin swelled up, he’d had to dismount, doubled over in pain…it was quite epic. Pain filled. Memorable.

This of course recalled insect bites. “Remember when that dude got stung in the eye by a bee?”

“Yeah, and his whole body swelled up like a giant grapefruit, and EMS had to come and take him off to the ER.”

“Or what about the time we were riding along and almost got hit by that piano?”

Everyone nodded, recalling the near disaster when a piano fell out of the back of a truck, bouncing along the tarmac at 50 mph, keyboard, legs, and chunks of wood flying like spears, scattering the terrified peloton.

“What about when G$ went over the guardrail at 40?”

“Or when Hottie hit that giant rock going down the Switchbacks at speed?”

“Remember when the angry driver got out and pulled a pistol?”

“That was scary as hell. And the naked chick on the motor scooter?”

“Ten stars! What about the time Stern-O wrecked an entire frame by running over a stick and getting it caught in the rear triangle?”

“High tide on the bike path when that huge wave came over the breakwater, knocked Jack off his bike and took his water bottle out to sea.”

“Stern-O’s wipeout at speed going into Pedro. Rolled a new silk sew-up at 40 in the turn dropping down Western. What the hell was he doing with silk sew-ups on a road bike?”

“Strauchmann’s one-legged crash and bike toss that almost took out Yule’s recently repaired elbow!”

“That freddie who got bit by a rattlesnake while changing a flat up on Piuma.”

“That dude who stomped off in the weeds to take a leak and found a small pot farm.”

“All those condoms and underwear in a neat pile underneath the bridge.”

Pretty soon we were home. And except for the punch in the face by the falling seed cone that almost blinded me and caused a horrific crash, it was a perfectly normal day.

34 thoughts on “Simple ride and punch in face”

  1. My punches in the face since 1972;

    Missed by a tire flying off a dump truck in New Jersey.

    Stung by twenty-nine wasps when going into the woods for a wiz just over the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey.

    Having a broken bottle hit by my front tire flip up and slice my shin in Harlem.

    Being knocked over by kids running out from between cars in Harlem.

    Crashing in a New Jersey parking lot, neglecting to thoroughly clean a wound, later developing bacteremia, a blood infection and becoming delirious, well, more so than usual.

    Swallowing a wasp and bitten in the throat by a wasp on descent into Malaga Cove.

    Being hit in the face by a parking lot gate being lowered at Cabrillo Beach.

    Although disconcerting, these incidents were routine compared to a friend being chased by a hippo while cycling in Kenya.

    Like most of life, its all a random affair, being in the wrong place, and the only consolation is that it could have been worse.

    1. Tires, thugs, septicemia, bug-eating…what could possibly go wrong? EVERYTHING. And it does.

  2. How could I have forgotten? Just missed being swished by a buck and doe jumping from a cliff in Fort Lee Park on to the George Washington Bridge bike path. So sad seeing them crumpled up, but we couldn’t bear to see the police arrive.

  3. It was a normal day on Angeles Crest HIghway. I was passed by a car towing a boat trailer. Instantly I heard twang .. twang .. and an anchor flew by my head and buried itself into the embankment! The fool had failed to secure it. I was so pi**ed I pulled it out, went to the cliff edge and like an Olympic hammer thrower sent it away into the forest. Properly avenged, I returned to my normal day.

  4. Early morning Central Park; rushing to meet a hot friend at Tavern on the Green, just before Bethesda Fountain two runners crossed in front of me, followed by a small retriever of some sort. The dog hit me mid-bike and I was all over the road, certain to go down, somehow recovering but was unable to pedal, having broken my new Cateye nylon toe clip and bending the big ring. Lucky for doggy I was on the big ring, sparing his spine from becoming hot dog. As per one of the classics, Anyone’s Bike Book, by Tim Cuthberson, I trued the chainring with a crescent wrench to stop it from rubbing the front derailleur.

    Someday you get the bear, someday the bear gets you…

  5. Got shot at by some punks on an overpass in Jersey City one time. Luckily they weren’t very good. And I almost rolled over a fourteen-point buck coming down Sepulveda at the Getty center in the rain one dark morning. Couldn’t swing wide because of traffic. Buck trapped on sidewalk by retaining wall. We shared an intimate sliver of tarmac for what seemed like an eternity until he could make the jump back up the hill.

    1. Nothing will ever top the A-Trav ass flap episode on PCH that resulted in a rear-ender when passing traffic was ogling your roadrashed rear-end.

  6. Too many near misses to count…for that matter, too many ‘hits’ to count, too…thanks for the post…a GREAT pre new years read.

    1. In 2013 nothing is guaranteed to happen. It will be a tranquil year. Just don’t leave the couch!

  7. A friend of mine Tyger Johnson hit and killed a dog that came out to chase him. He was going downhill fast so ended up breaking his arm plus lots of road rash.

    1. The dog’s arms got broken, the dog got road rash AND he died? Bummer. Some days you should just eat the Alpo and not chase bikers.

  8. Wish that were me right now punch: Swinging-around a bike path curve in full daylight Venice, saw under a palm tree on the grass a Latin couple there just absolutely going for it.

  9. These stories definitely produce an “oh-shit” chuckle…

    Truth is even a JONG like me has been saved by his glasses.

    Glad you were wearing yours WM.

    1. It’s why I included glasses in my “night light” post about equipment that makes the difference between life and death. Glad you got a laugh!

  10. Pingback: Presenting a passel of bike links to close out your 2012 reading, and a brief New Years warning « BikingInLA

  11. Crackhead jumps out in front of our pack while riding through east Austin on Manor Rd. Lead rider punches said CH in the jaw knocking him out (head hits curb, must be dead). Some stop, some take off, some wait down the road just as a cop comes by the other way. 10 minutes later the Stoppers regroup with the Waiters and explain that witnesses across the street at the bus stop told the police the CH had done the same thing to two previous passing cars. Cop lets Stoppers proceed after determining CH in only unconscious. Knocking out CH’s saves lives.

    1. It is still going strong. No sickness (physical), but big changes. Write-up in a couple of months…

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