Fall is in the air

December 22, 2016 § 34 Comments

The Internet is a weird thing. You make friends with people first, get to know them, and then you make friends “in reality.” Perhaps epistolary relationships were once like this, but not really. On the Internet you get photos, social media updates, and so much more information about the stranger with whom you’re friends. It’s not like you have to wait six months for a steamer to carry your letter to China.

Anyway, my friend and I met up at the Center of the Known Universe, shared a coffee, swapped some stories, and then he offered up a choice bit of blogging that you can read here: If you don’t laugh, there’s something wrong with you.

And plagiarism being the first legitimate son of flattery, and the profligate deadbeat dad of copyright infringement, I immediately took his idea and decided to imitate it as best I could. Feel free to add your own experiences in the comments.

Unlike Vlad, I don’t remember all of my falls, but like him there are several that stand out, proving the adage “It’s not if, it’s when.”

  1. Childhood bicycle falling off incidents: There were many of these but I don’t remember any of them except the time I wasn’t paying attention and rode my bicycle off the edge of Galveston’s 15-foot seawall onto the rocks below. I still remember my father screaming as I plunged. I landed on a massive granite boulder, unhurt, looking up at my dad peering over the ledge in horror as my brother peered over in glee. I noted at the time and still note that fifteen feet goes by rather quickly.
  2. Junior high school bicycle falling off incidents: I rode my bike to school every day for three years and never fell off.
  3. High school bicycle falling off incidents: These were the only three years of my life that I didn’t ride a bicycle. And I never fell off.
  4. Head under the car falling off incident: I had just bought my first road bike, a Nishiki International, in November, 1982, from Phil Tomlin at Freewheeling Bicycles in Austin. I would later note that the purchase of a road bicycle drastically increases one’s chances of falling off. I was swooping around the turn from E. 30th onto Speedway when my bike slid out and I slid with it. There was a parked car on the far curb and I slid under the car. My body went beneath the car and my head slammed against the bottom of the door. It hurt. I made note of the dangers of excessive swooping and went on to class. My bike was unhurt.
  5. Chris Hipp bicycle falling off incident. This was a Cat 4 race in Dallas in 1984, a downtown crit. On the second lap Chris Hipp moved over onto my front wheel and I fell down. I was amazed at how hard the pavement was and how everything came to a stop in my world, while everything in the world of the other bicycle racers didn’t change at all, as evidenced by the fact that they kept riding and I lay there. My bike was unhurt, but I hurt my finger and quit.
  6. Japan wrong-way bicycle falling off incident: For many years I didn’t fall off my bicycle despite much racing and training. Then I moved to Japan and one day was bombing down a twisty little hill in Utsunomiya. I caught the green light at Heisei Dori just past the little stationery shop called Silver Business, went right full speed, and set up to make a swooping left the wrong way up a one-way street. They had a green light and I was so enjoying the swoop that I failed to notice I was swooping directly into the front of an oncoming car, followed by swooping onto the hood and even more swooping onto the windshield. I was unhurt but my front tire flatted and my pink Tommasini got scratched. The driver later tried to get me to pay for his bent hood and threatened me with yakuza.
  7. Japan wrong-side-of-street falling off incident. I was bombing a descent coming back from Nikko. It had straightened out and I was slowing down when a car appeared. The road was narrow and the driver moved over as far as he could to the left, which is the side he was supposed to be on. I panicked and forgot which side of the road I was supposed to be on, and hugged the right, which was his left. There was a tiny gap between his fender and the sheer rock wall. My handlebars wedged, I flipped, and landed sitting up at the rear of the car. My butt hurt and when I raised my head the little girl in the back seat screamed, as my face was just an inch or two away. My bike was unhurt but my butt was not. I hurried home in case he too was friends with the yakuza.
  8. Houston wet patch falling off incident. One day I was riding home along the Buffalo Bayou bike path. I exited the path onto South Braeswood, and as I turned I hit a wet patch and fell off my bicycle. I felt really stupid and I am pretty sure I looked even more so. My bike was unhurt but my pride was wounded, grievously.
  9. Ganado backflip bicycle falling off incident. One day I tried a wheelie on Ganado. The first part of the wheelie worked, but the second part didn’t, as it kept on going, all the way until the wheelie stopped with the back of my head slamming against the pavement. A lady and a lawn guy watched in amazement and rushed to my aid. My bike was unhurt, my helmet was mortally wounded, and I was a few more IQ points down.
  10. Wheatgrass bicycle falling off incident: It was my first season of cyclocross so I was pumped with my great skills. As we swooped from PV North onto the right-hander at the reservoir, my front tire flatted. In mid-swoop I hit the ground and tore an armwarmer. My bike wasn’t hurt and neither was I. My armwarmer was hurt.
  11. 2013 BWR bicycle falling off incident: On the second BWR we dropped off the bike path and rode along some dirt and then came to a big wall. I hit something and went flying for a long way in the air. When I landed, Johnny Walsh rode by laughing. “That was the funniest crash I’ve ever seen,” he said. This carried some weight, because he has not only seen a million of them, but been involved in several hundred thousand himself. My bike was unhurt.
  12. Orange County Cyclocross falling off incident. My first ‘cross race on a BMX course, I hit the deep sand and several people in front of me did too, only when they hit it they fell, so I naturally hit them and fell, too, and naturally the people behind me hit me and subsequently fell. Everyone fell. My front derailleur was so hurt it broke but I finished the race, unhurt.
  13. Eldorado Park Cyclocross falling off incident. I was charging along (not swooping) when suddenly I went over the handlebars and landed on my head. No one was nearby as I was comfortably positioned in last place, the road was straight, and there were no bumps or roots. My bike was unhurt but again, thankfully, my brain bore the full impact of the fall.
  14. 2015 BWR bicycle falling off incident: I had just charged out of the deep sand at Sandy Bandy and went swooping onto the gravel road which had a bend in it. Too late, I realized that there was too much swoop and too little bend. I hit a cactus and landed in another one. There were a billion prickles but amazingly I hit none of them. My bike was unhurt, which was doubly good because it wasn’t my bike.
  15. Dana Point Grand Prix bicycle falling off incident: This particular year there was a standing pool of blood where the screaming wide descent hooked right onto PCH. Many people fell in the blood, adding more blood, but I fell on the straightaway for no apparent reason except that maybe someone else did something at some time in such and such a way and etcetera. My bike got hurt and broke a spoke and Matt Hahn broke a hip. I got the spoke fixed, had a beer, and did the next race, finishing DFL. Matt, whose hip wasn’t fixed quite as easily, gave up bicycle racing, and presumably bicycle falling off as well.
  16. Velodrome falling off incident: I was riding around with Tara Unversagt and heard some riders coming up behind us fast and panicked and jerked my wheel up track and fell, sliding down track with many ass splinters from the spruce boards. Bike was unhurt, but ego was battered because Roger Young jerked me off the track for the day.
  17. Great October 2013 NPR mass bicycle falling off incident. There was a huge crash on the NPR. I wasn’t implicated but as everyone around me fell, I inexplicably slammed the eject button a/k/a the front brake, and catapulted myself onto my head. My bike was mortally wounded with a cracked integrated seatpost but Giant replaced the frame for free and the only thing I permanently damaged was my brain.
  18. Nutsack breaking incident of 2015. This has been well chronicled. I fell on the Via del Monte hairpin and shattered my nutsack. My bike was unhurt but the nutsack required advanced nutsack resuscitation and the use of paddles to revive it.

I’m sure there are others, but thankfully I remember them not.



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§ 34 Responses to Fall is in the air

  • KK says:

    I feel I’m a horrible person for laughing at this, but it’s hilarious! I am not really a slapstick humor kind of gal, so it’s definitely the narration. I will read the other guy’s blog, too, but it’s likely not going to be as funny, as I do not Internet-know him. Thanks for some good laughs on a hectic travel day!

  • dangerstu says:

    I think you deserve an award or something.

  • Winemaker says:

    “if you don’t crash at least five times a year, you’re not taking enough chances…”
    Graham McGovern, Dublin, 1987.

  • JF says:

    FOBS (Fall Off Bike Stories) are the bestest. Thanks for writing this. Did I mention twice this week that G$ and I were just talking about your NSoVDM this past Wednesday? I fell off my mountain bike yesterday and flew into a huge 12″ thorn bush. That was awesome. Especially when Dave pulled them out of my back but refused to take care of my hind quarters. Then there was the brilliant hard left I pulled on the CX bike while transitioning from the wet grass to polished concrete on The Better Surfer Dan… wow, that concrete came up fast! And the great time I got a leg cramp while descending a huge flight of stairs on the MTB. I didn’t make the hairpin turn at the bottom. Duh.

    • fsethd says:

      I’m inventing a device that will cause riders to fall onto, rather than off of, their bikes. Stay tuned for my Kickstarter “Nutsack Superglu” product. There are one or two design issues I’m working on but hope to resolve soon.

  • LesB says:

    “Close call sex reassignment while cycling” category:
    4 years old on my tricycle, I tempted fate by bringing the front wheel as close as possible to the edge of those cement steps in the back yard without plunging down. I failed. Crashing at the bottom, my crotch rammed into the head tube.

    “It” ended up black and blue.

  • Spinner says:

    “Touching the truck tailgate falling off incident” while cooling down at 6 mph. Proceeding said incident was a handlebar banging crit sprint complete with curb “rubbing” and wheel “touching” (also cussing etc). Oh yeah, I broke my collar bone….Wife at the time did NOT believe my story so I had to produce witnesses…No wonder she got rid of my as..

  • randmart37 says:

    Never simply say “I fell” when you can say “I collided with a planet” or, even better “I was riding along, just minding my own business when this bully of a planet came up and slammed into me for no good reason. I calmly and easily shoved it out of my way and continued along”

  • Dan says:

    Takes me back . . . . When I was a young and (more) foolish Dan, I tried to see how far I could ride no handed–with my eyes closed. I mean really, who hasn’t, right? I did have the presence of mind to choose a straight, little-traveled stretch of road. I quickly opened my eyes when the road got bumpy. Turned out I had ridden right up the curb onto the grass.

    Even more embarrassing was the time I ran into the back of a parked car. The less said about that the better.

    • fsethd says:

      But the more said about it, the more mirth.

    • Kathie says:

      Omg. I totally forgot that I did that as a kid! Only I was going downhill and ran over my brother who was on his skateboard in front of me. Walked home crying and bleeding. I’m laughing now!! Thanks for the memory!

  • Waldo says:

    As I read 16.: “…many ass splinters from spruce boards… Roger Young jerked…” I was fully expecting to see “splinters from my ass.” Alas Seth’s relationship with Roger didn’t become that personal.

    It was a pleasure to meet you in person and thank you for plagiarism (a phrase never uttered before).

  • 900aero says:

    Wanky, thankyou for this bit of enlightenment as well as all the others through the year, they’re mostly genius.
    May 2017 not be the Year of Wanky’s Nutsack.


  • Minnesota Expat says:

    Childhood falling off bicycle stories follow:

    1. Columbia, MO, 1971. Riding my wonderful English Hercules 3-speed no hands (it’s a very cool thing when you’re an 11-yo) down a steep neighborhood hill. Talking and laughing with a friend. Stuffing aforementioned wonderful blue English Hercules 3-speed into the back of a 1960s land barge. Lesson? Lost on an 11-yo mind. Bent the fork and got a snazzy French “10-speed” replacement bike.

    2. 1-year later. Truck runs me off county road in middle of no where MO and I break my wrist. Instead of taking me to a human emergency room to have my bent and rapidly swelling wrist x-rayed by a human physician, Dad the Ever Thrifty Veterinary Student took me to the Vet School to be x-rayed by a Thrifty Radiology Student. Lesson? Bike fine, but 11-yo boys with a cast get lots of attention and sympathy from 11-yo girls!

  • Mike says:

    It’s a good thing you don’t ride a MTB, this list would be interminable. 🙂

  • I used to imagine I was a steely-eyed jet fighter pilot flashing along at 50 feet off the deck. I lived this dream by riding really close to parked cars. That didn’t last for long, and now I know why steely-eyed jet fighter pilots use terrain-avoiding radar systems.

  • Naftali says:

    Don’t think I want to ride with that other guy, his nine lives are into major overdraft.

    Apropos your more recent article about reasons to ride and longevity. People our age aren’t supposed to be doing things that make you fall.

    I always felt that my running and cycling was play, we forget to keep doing that after age 11. Of course, for kids, part of play is falling down.

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