Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Few Times I've Almost Died Biking

In light of it being "no biking season," I thought I would share a bit of my biking history.

What scary bike accidents have I been in? Not very many.

By far, the most serious was in January 2010 when I had a nasty slip on ice on F Avenue near Collins Road. I wrote about that fall in my other blog. I've since been more careful to avoid all snow and ice, which explains why I'm waiting for a change in the weather before resuming my usual bike commuting.

I have not, so far, had very many other calamities. I always wear a helmet when riding, because several decades ago a sister-in-law (my wife's brother's wife) received a serious knock in the head when she hit a street grate in Davenport, Iowa. Eventually, she was fine, but she was hospitalized for several days--and since then I always wear a helmet.

Besides the slip on the ice, I don't have much of a accident rap sheet. Just a few ...

I don't recall my age, but I was a teen and out riding my old red one-speed when my sister Toni and I managed collide on Kindler Avenue in Muscatine. There were no other vehicles involved, I don't think we were very hurt and it probably happened because we were yakking as we rode.

Another time, I was bike riding with Toni in Muscatine and we were a few miles out in the countryside on a gravel road in a forlorn hollow when my chain broke. It was a long, twilight walk home, but none of the bogeymen or strange country hill people armed with shotguns or pitchforks ever showed up. Even though we were expecting them.

Naturally, I feel a few times when learning to ride in the first place, and recall that in California I ran into the back fence while practicing. Anyway, since I was 7 years old when we moved from California, I must have been 7 or younger when that happened.

The most embarrassing bike accident was also the least serious. I was biking along a walking/biking trail beside Storm Lake in Storm Lake, Iowa, when I approached a couple of cute young shorts-clad ladies walking in front of me.

When approaching people from behind on my bike, I usually sound a verbal warning, and so far have managed to alert pedestrians enough that we have avoided each other on trails like this, but these women were walking abreast (or four) on the trail and there wasn't room for me to squeeze by. So I moved off to the right of the trail, went around them, and promptly toppled when my front wheel hit the ground-pavement interface in front of them.

Luckily--unlike the time when I slipped on ice--I was unhurt, injured in pride only.

Biking can be a dangerous hobby. No biker ever wins an encounter with a ton or so of plastic and metal powered by an infernal combustion engine (yeah, "infernal" is a deliberate usage).

Still, 7 from 52 is 45. Four and a half decades of biking--no broken bones yet, and, I hope, none to come.

So bikers out there? Go slow like Joe, wear your helmet all the time, sound a warning before approaching pedestrians. And watch out for cute ladies in short shorts. They are dangerous.

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