Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Spotted" Along the Bike Trail

Yeah, a bad pun...

This morning I got together with my best buddy Steve for breakfast at our usual local spot (The Vienna Inn, famous for chili dogs, but makers of good breakfasts as well), followed by a bike ride. It was a nice ride, despite the astounding amount of moisture in the air (ah, August in the mid-Atlantic states!), and the company was good. Steve and I have been riding buddies since college, when I helped him buy his first nice road bike, way back when. We have similar paces and outlooks on riding (it's supposed to be fun, first and foremost), so a ride with him is always good.

This morning, we were treated to a couple of "nature" moments... one, a pair of dazzling Tiger Swallowtail butterflies on a bright purple flower, I only caught a fleeting glimpse of as we whizzed by... the other, this pair of beautiful little fawns in the woods alongside the trail. They were very young, still in their spots, and wide eyed as they looked at us looking at them.

Monday, August 3, 2009


It's been a while since I've posted anything... motivation has been lacking lately, for personal reasons, but I was hoping to pick it up again. I even had some ideas for some fun topics to address, like my recent 30 year high school reunion. Ironically though, Sunday brought an event that I feel compelled to write about, even though it's not a fun one.

Part of my work as a bike mechanic is to test ride bikes... both new bikes and bikes that are in for service. And sometimes the process is fairly long, especially when I'm trying to solve a thorny problem, or track down an intermittent glitch with a bike. Well, Sunday I was trying to get an old Brompton folding bike working better for a customer. It was built in 1989, and has a Sturmey-Archer five speed, internally geared hub. Now, most of Sturmey's hubs are models of reliability and longevity, but from what I've read and experienced, some of the five speed models are the exception to this, or are at least finicky. This one had been giving the owner a hard time since he'd recently bought the bike used, and he's had it in several times for me to work on. Short of completely tearing it apart, most work on this type of gearing system involves adjusting the control cable, or in this case, cables, as it's one of the less common 2-cable designs. Anyway, I had done some careful adjustments and was riding the bike, shifting through the gears and pedaling hard, to see if I could make it slip out of gear as it had been doing. After quite a few laps of our parking lot and many shifts, I thought I had the problem licked, and was just about ready to call it done, as I made another short sprint up the slope of our parking lot when...

WHAM!!!!! The gear hub slipped, and the pedals just spun free below my feet, surprising me and throwing me forward, where my chest apparently hit the handlebars with enough force to knock the vertical handlebars completely horizontal, before continuing forward over the bike into a somersault onto the pavement. I heard the distinct sound of plastic on asphalt as my helmet thwacked into the ground just before I rolled over.

Needless to say I was stunned. John, my boss, rushed to my side and told me to lie still for a minute, but I was already starting to slowly rise to a sitting position to check out what I had done to myself. I was definitely disoriented, but soon figured out that nothing was broken. I did however have some nasty scrapes on my right knee, right hand, and left shin, not to mention a very sore chest from impacting the bars. With help, I picked myself up and gingerly made my way back to the shop, where I sat for a good, long while before beginning to clean up the wounds and dress them. Thanks to my background in tech theatre and all the training and experience I had there, I always seem to end up tending my own wounds, as I'm the one who best knows how to do it. Weird, but true.

This is the first bike crash I've had in a long while.... I guess 4 or 5 years. I've never had an accident with another vehicle (well, there was a minor mishap when I was a lot younger and ran into a friend on his bike...), luckily, but I have had a few wrecks on my own. I'd have to say though, this was the worst as far as injuries are concerned (unless you count a dislocated thumb from a really stupid mountain bike fall), and the most shocking. One moment I was zooming along, the next I was flying through the air and hitting the ground hard. Ouch!

Today I'm still sore, but the scrapes look a lot better, thanks to keeping them clean and dressed, and using anti-biotic ointment on them. I'm moving a bit slow, but I am sure I'm on the mend. I'm very glad I was wearing my helmet, I have to say... that whole "I'm just going around the parking lot" argument really doesn't fly with me now.

Pics are at:

And another blog post at our shop blog is at:

Oh, and yes, I write notes to myself on the back of my hand. I figure my hand is always with me, and if it's ever not, the least of my worries is what's written on it!