I’ve had lots of luck as a cyclist. Last spring, I had my second flat ever in about 40 years of cycling (and that included years when I had running injuries and was riding a lot!).
My luck is especially astounding considering I combine the fitness and fanaticism of a “serious” cyclist with a complete lack of technical riding expertise, mechanical ability, and proper cycling clothing.
This morning, although it was raining, I hadn’t been on my bike for six days and had a strong urge to get outside. I couldn’t run, because I ran yesterday and my knee needs at least two rest days between runs.
I couldn’t face being a gym rat this morning. Besides, it was only raining lightly…
I dressed warmly, with thick tights and several layers of long-sleeved technical tops beneath my waterproof jacket. Unfortunately, my tights, shoes (old beat-up running trail shoes), and gloves aren’t waterproof.
Being outside was as exhilarating as I’d hoped. Yes, it was raining lightly. Yes, there were tons of deep puddles along the bike path that comprises the first part of my ride to Sasamat Lake. But my legs felt great; I pushed hard and that, plus my well-dressed upper body, kept me warm in spite of the rain and puddle water that soon soaked my feet, legs, and butt. It was one of those days when I wanted to ride wildly, and I could—the rain seemed to have discouraged the usual crowd of runners, mothers with baby carriages, and dog walkers from being out, and I had the bike path to myself.
After 5K of riding, I started the 1.5K tough uphill climb towards the lake. My splits so far were fantastic! I attributed this to my fresh legs, riding hard to keep warm, and my spanking new tires.
My exhilaration started to dim when I reached the highest point and began my descent into the park towards the beach. This is normally the most fun part of the ride. After the gruelling climb, it’s wonderful to fly down the road, seeing the awesome views of the mountains and glimpses of the lake through the trees. But now I noticed that it was pouring. There was more water on the road than I’d ever seen before. The splashing was so plentiful I might as well have been in the lake. The waterfalls I passed were roaring with their abundance of water, so different from the moderate trickles of summer.
I couldn’t fly down the final hill to the lake; I had to worry about slipping and crashing. There would be no stopping at the beach, either, to admire the tranquil views, catch my breath, take a drink, or take photos. Because now I was COLD. From now on this would be a 20-minute survival ride home.
Most of the ride back is downhill, so that couldn’t help me stay warm either. Normally I love the speed of riding downhill back to Ioco Road; that is the reward for having to climb! But today I had to be very careful because of the deep puddles. My usual downhill split of about 1:30/km was 1:42 instead. My eyes were closed to slits as the heavy rain drove into my face. I had trouble changing gears for the few small uphill sections as my fingers were frozen inside my inadequate gloves.
But I made it back! Thankfully, I pressed my fob button to open the underground parking lot where my bike storage locker is located. Riding in, I immediately felt relief at the warmth inside the building.
Then, as I turned the corner towards the locker area—CRASH! Suddenly I was lying flat on my stomach on the hard concrete. PAIN. I lay still and took inventory. Left hip. Left elbow. Lie still a few more minutes. No witnesses, no one to help. Fob lying on the ground only inches from a sewer grate—without it, I couldn’t have gotten out of the parking lot, into my bike locker, or up to my apartment.
I’m OK. I can move. I’m still very cold. I get on my bike, ride the short distance to the bike locker, and proceed as normal.
Once back to my apartment, it’s wet clothes off, hot shower, and hot coffee ASAP! I’ve had my morning exercise high.