A bike ride

5 Apr

Note: Recent events have led me to doubt some of what is written here. For an explanation, see this post.

I woke up this morning faced with a decision. I had planned on going on my first ride with a local cycling club that I had joined, but a couple of things had given me second thoughts. First, my seasonal allergies were flaring up, and I was concerned that this might interfere with my ability to ride my bike. The other problem was that I didn’t really have proper cycling attire. I had clothing that I was comfortable wearing on a bicycle, but it wouldn’t make me look like a cyclist. I actually bought a pair of cycling shorts yesterday, but I was overwhelmed by the price and choice of shirts and decided against buying one. I’m always more than a bit shy about introducing myself to new groups of people, and looking different wasn’t going to make it any easier. After a few minutes of deliberation, though, I decided to put on a shirt I had that was made of some sort of athletic fabric and go.

When I arrived at the starting point of the ride, I could see that my choice of clothing wasn’t the only way in which I stood out. I was also one of only two cyclists without drop handlebars. When I had purchased my bike two months earlier, I had balked at the price of drop handlebars, opting instead for a cheaper commuter bike, which I had come to like very much. I wasn’t bothered by the fact that my bike was probably the cheapest one there; it was just that the difference in construction was another thing that made me feel I didn’t belong.

After  we started moving, I became conscious of yet another way in which I didn’t fit in, although this one was decidedly more subtle. I’d always been a cautious bicyclist, and so I’d tend to use my brakes as I’d go down hills. As I braked my way down the hills, I found that the other cyclists were pedaling past me. Uphill was a different story. Living in the Berkeley Hills, I had biked uphill almost every day for several months. Over the course of these months, I had managed to cut my evening commute (the uphill direction) in half. With my youth and my comfort with hills, I found myself passing many of the other cyclists on the uphill.

As the ride progressed, I began taking the downhill stretches a bit faster. I started out braking less, and then even started pedaling a bit.  I didn’t feel a need to be going faster than anybody else. It was just my paranoid fear of not fitting in. In fact, I still found myself taking the hills a bit slower than many of the others.

About a third of the way through the ride 43 mile ride, I neared the bottom of a hill along a quiet road. The road veered off to the right, but I did not. My bicycle crossed over the center line of the road, and I tried to turn back onto the right side of the road. The next thing I remember, I had fallen and gotten up again, and people were crowding around with concern.

2 Responses to “A bike ride”


  1. Twenty-three with braces « jawbroken - June 2, 2009

    […] day long, it’s the understanding that my trying too hard to fit in may well have caused the accident in the first place. I’m not quite sure what could go wrong here. I doubt that my muscles are […]

  2. The accident revisited « Shock and Jaw - July 4, 2009

    […] accident, Cycling, Insurance, road hazards I have to begin with a confession. When I wrote about my accident, I wasn’t entirely sure that everything I was saying was true. I didn’t say anything […]

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