Monday, September 7, 2009

Without Sunglasses, I Fall Over.

I experienced an embarrassing fall last Thursday, and thanks to some sort of bizarre personality disorder, I feel compelled to write about it in detail on the Internet rather than just suck it up and hope too many people didn't see. I didn't have the camera mounted that morning (arg!), so I will have to make do with a long-winded description of events, beginning with some introductory groundwork:

1) The day began poorly. When I started getting my stuff on to leave the house, I discovered that my customizer had worked some more on my sunglasses. I thought they were perfect the way they were, and said work was non-commissioned. My customizer further reduced the weight of the sunglasses, but in so doing, decided that they no longer needed to be integrated, which was really one of their best features. Now in three or four pieces, I could no longer work out how to use them, and my customizer wouldn't tell me. I left the house with no glasses.

2) I am a lazy, lazy person. When I was a kid, I was forever getting in trouble for pulling my shoes on and off without untying them. My parents said it would wreck my shoes, which indeed it does. I still do it, at the cost of ruining shoes more quickly than necessary.

3) I have never learned to trackstand. Many fixed gear riders figure out how to trackstand at some point, since it is easier on such a bike. I can achieve just-barely moving status, but I can't stop fully and stay clipped in. Thanks to my aforementioned laziness, I have never tried to master a proper trackstand, so it is no surprise that I don't know how yet.

4) VC (Vehicular Cycling) concepts have taken over some parts of my brain. At intersections, I behave as a car or motorcycle would. This is a very good thing.

So Here's What Happened:

Riding along without glasses is just no good, especially when you are as blazing fast as I am. Tears streaming out of the outer corners of my eyes, I arrived at a 4 way stop right near South St. Hospital. There was only one other car to wait for, since they got there first, by a good second or two. They did not proceed, and instead sat there, looking at me. I was sitting there doing my almost-track-stand. I motioned for them to proceed, but they did not, instead gesturing that I should. It was too late. My almost-track-stand was out of time, and I started to fall over. I got my usual first foot out of the pedal quick enough, but I was falling the other way, and I couldn't get out of the other pedal, because my foot was drifting around in my worn out, loosely tied shoe, unable to disengage the cleat. I got out of that pedal on my way down, but I was beyond saving by then.

The people in a few cars behind me, a bunch of people at a bus stop and of course the two people in the car who had waited for me all watched a grown man (who appeared to be crying) gracelessly struggle to stay upright and fall jerkily to the ground. I was completely unhurt, not a scratch.

Go and figure. I fall immediately outside a hospital, and don't get hurt at all. Anyway, I raised myself and my bike from the pavement with the kind of speed that is only attainable by the highly embarrassed, banged my front wheel on the ground in anger, and rode off. As I was getting up, the woman in the passenger seat of the courteous car was looking at me with a big fat grin on her face as they finally passed through the intersection. At the time it made me angry. Now, however, I am not. What isn't funny about watching a 200 pound man in spandex shorts and reflective stuff fall over while at a dead stop? Nothing, that's what. Man, I wish I had video.

Thanks for reading! I still can't trackstand, but my slothful ways with my shoes have been mended (for now at least), and my new cheap sunglasses are kept well away from my customizer. He's gone over the edge. Such a shame...

Keep it upright; You're Much Cooler That Way.



Steve A said...

Despite what appears to be an attempt at humor, you have my sympathy on this one. I am glad that there was no need for one of those "my helmet saved my life" testimonials.

Keri said...

Been there, done that. I've even fallen over while stopped with a foot down — did something to get off-center and went over on the clipped-in side with the loose foot flailing. I hate when that happens.

Glad you are unhurt!

As for the courteous motorist. I run into this a lot, I think it's partially self-defense because they expect cyclists to run stop signs. I've been able to reduce the problem somewhat by waving them to go as I roll up to the stop sign.

Steve A said...

Keri just made the best point in favor of just putting a foot down. Have you EVER seen a cyclist run a stop sign with one foot on the ground?

Track stands are not so definitive. It's why my right pedal is set to release much easier than my left.

Rat Trap Press said...

I've done that before, in front of my wife many years ago after I bragged about my bike skills. She enjoyed it and reminds me about it all the time.

Get some platform pedals and the walking shoe of your choice. No more falls at stop lights.

Keri said...

If there's any cause for confusion (like more than 2 cars approaching a 4-way) I just put the foot down.

But if there's just one car, I slow my approach and wave to make sure they get there first and go. I'd prefer to do a wheel-stop and go. It's perfectly legal and takes less effort.

Unknown said...

Many fixed gear riders figure out how to trackstand at some point, since it is easier on such a bike. I can achieve just-barely moving status, but I can't stop fully and stay clipped in. Thanks to my aforementioned laziness, I have never tried to master a proper trackstand, so it is no surprise that I don't know how yet.

When I learned to trackstand, it was on a XC bike rather than a fixie, and with platform rather than clipless. With a clipless system, I don't think I'd have the guts to try it.

Still, I love having the clipless pedals on my road bike, and I'm waiting for that embarrassing fall. I know it's going to happen at some inopportune time. Just a matter of when...

RANTWICK said...

Kevin - you make a good poit there... maybe I'll try it on my Winter bike on the platform sides of the pedals... the snow may cushion the blow of any mistakes!

Big Oak said...

I've experienced the same courteous drivers, although I've not yet fallen. The other day I did a small circle to the right side of the road, just as another car was coming up from behind me. I scared that driver when I turned around and was heading straight at him (albeit for a nanosecond). By then the courteous driver cleared the intersection and the driver behind me drove completely in the oncoming lane to go around me.

Give your customizer a pat on the head and maybe a cookie. Customizing is what they do. It's just something us humans just don't fully understand.

RANTWICK said...

Steve A - thanks man. My helmet didn't even touch the ground, I don't think.

Steve & Keri - I am quite happy to get a foot down when there's any chance of confusion or a longer wait. I can't be mad at this driver either, they were just trying to be nice. I refuse to go out of turn though, and that, this time, was the problem.

Rar Trap - now that I've used cleats, it just feels inefficient and sloppy without 'em. I can't go back.

Big Oak - It is a wise man who knows how little he knows when it comes to the art of the customizer.

Johnny said...

Glad you survived without getting physically hurt. Autumn is coming, such a nice time to ride! :)

RANTWICK said...

Autumn is by far the best season for riding, in my opinion... so good that I can't give cycling up through the winter!

Steve A said...

I thought people in Canada were expected to be bilingual. Cleats and Toeclips in the case of cyclists.

Hmm, maybe that'd be "bifooted." No, most of us are bifooted. Maybe it'd be...?

GreenComotion said...

Glad you're okay, Rantwick.

I have to admit though I laughed my ass off (no offense) at your humorous descriptions. Your post made my day, really!

Your writing is really funny!!

I don't wear clipless. I wear RTP (Rat Trap Pedals), no connection to Rat Trap Press LOL. I have fallen 2-3 times with the clipless pedals and once I almost got in a wreck in the middle of rush hour traffic.

Peace :)

RANTWICK said...

Steve - I'm not bilingual (I wish!) but as far as I know I am bifooted.

Chandra - I love my clipless pedals, and so long as I only crash while stopped, I'll keep wearing them. I'm glad you laughed, if you had felt pity or sadness you would have been missing the point.

Bike Lemming said...

It sounds like your customizer is in to causing you pain! No worries buddy, we've all had embarassing falls like that!

Todd S. said...

I've given up on clipless myself. I've only actually fallen one time - and that was in my front yard when I couldn't for the life of me get my right foot clipped in time and basically "stalled out" - but I just don't like 'em. For urban type riding I've gone to BMX pedals. Very grippy and you can wear any shoe you want :)

Enough of that though. Glad you weren't hurt. I've gotten into waving wars at stop signs before. I don't know what more I can do to convince them to go ahead short of completely dismounting the bike.

RANTWICK said...

Todd - Thanks for your note. I still love my clipless pedals. You are right about some stopped drivers, though! Sometimes they just won't go no matter what!

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