Archive for August, 2008

Car=1, New Bike=0

I went out for a two and a half hour ride today that turned into a six hour ordeal.  About ten or eleven miles from home, I was riding on a fairly busy main road when I saw a car stopped at the stop sign on a smaller intersecting street.  I had a strange feeling about the car, but I thought I made eye contact with the driver.  As I got closer, the car pulled out.  I was sure he would see me, since I was right in front of him, but I still swerved to get out of the way.  Unfortunately, he did not see me or hit his brakes until he had hit me.

I tumbled over the handlebars and crashed to the street.  As I lay there holding my head and looking at my mangled bike, I could see cars stopping all around.  I thought vaguely about trying to get my mobile out of my jersey pocket, but I saw a woman in a car roll down her window and shout that she was calling 911.  In what seemed like seconds, there were several people all around me, and when I attempted to move, they told me to lie still.  The police rolled up quickly, and then the firefighters and EMTs.

The driver of the car that hit me was wandering around in what seemed to be a bit of a daze, and he kept saying over and over, “I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry.”  A small part of me felt bad for him, as if I should comfort him, but a larger part of me wanted to yell at him for smashing up my new bike, so I’m glad he didn’t come over to talk to me.  The people who were gathered around me kept him away, and when he suggested that he move my bike out of the way, they jumped all over him.  “The police need to see where it is!” they told him.

In the meantime, one of the women at the scene called Dorothy and told her what had happened.  A physical therapist, whose office I had conveniently crashed in front of, was on hand, helping to check me out and make sure I hadn’t done serious, vital damage to myself.  Others appeared to be directing traffic and generally being good Samaritans.

Soon I was strapped into an uncomfortable neck brace and lashed to a stiff backboard.  The EMTs and firefighters loaded me into an ambulance and took me to Danbury hospital.  After getting my vital signs checked for the fourth or fifth time, a nurse wheeled me into the x-ray room, where I got my chest and neck zapped.  Back in my little room, Dorothy was waiting for me with a worried expression on her face.  I assured her I was fine, but a little banged up.  I then got a CAT scan, another x-ray, and a lot more waiting around.

The PA who saw me happened to be a cyclist himself, though he confessed to having too little time to ride as much as he might like.  He told me I had nothing too seriously wrong with me other than a lot of banging around and bruising.  My left wrist somehow took the worst of it and is badly sprained at the least.  I have to see an orthopedist soon to have it checked out.  My neck got a little wrenched by the fall, but is not badly damaged, and there is some minor road rash on my right shoulder.

I have to go to the Newtown police department tomorrow to pick up my bike and see how bad it is.  From my vantage point lying on the road, I could tell that both blades of the form were shattered, but I could not see it well enough to know if there was more extensive damage.  This hurts the most–I have only had the bike for a week, and now it is all smashed up.  The only consolation I get is that the driver’s insurance will be paying for this.  That doesn’t make me feel any better, though–I really like my new bike, and it makes me very sad to see it.

The only other good thing is everyone involved was very professional and very nice.  The Newtown police officer who took my bike back to the PD, the EMTs, the people driving by who stopped–everyone was very kind and helpful and made me feel a little better about our world.

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World Champion

I haven’t posted in a long time–vacation, tenure portfolio, syllabi for the fall semester, and riding all seem to have got in the way.  I will get back to some more substantial posts in a day or three.

In the meantime, I have some important news.  Tonight, I clinched my lead in the Tuesday Night World Championships.  We have one race left to go, but my lead is untouchable.  And, I must say, I did the last couple of races with a broken rib, which means I am either seriously tough or a complete lunatic.  I’m pretty happy about this, and will submit my upgrade form in a week or two.

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You Don’t Want to Know…

…how my latest race went.  If you do, jump over here to check out my race report.

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Sly Fox

We were ambling down the trail when Muttboy suddenly started sniffing the air, and his face wrinkled in intense concentration.  He huffed a couple of times and began circling the trail, his nose held high.  Then he darted to the left, moving in fast, tight circles as he tried to lock in on the scent.  Whatever it was, it was making him crazy.

I looked up at the low ridge and saw a fox running away to the north.  It was not moving in a panic, but it was not dawdling, either.  As I watched, it dodged around a tree and disappeared into a mountain laurel thicket.  At that moment, Muttboy grabbed the scent trail and started his zig-zagging chase.  I called but he was too intently focused, so I had to call again, raising my voice and letting him know I was serious.  He sprinted back to me, breathing hard, his tongue lolling crazily, and his eyes incandescent with excitement.

We continued walking, Muttboy all the time staring off to the north, hoping to catch another glimpse of his quarry.  Scrambling over the big fallen oak, we moved away from the small valley where the fox was and ascended a low ridge.  Then we were back on more heavily-traveled trails and Muttboy’s panting slowed, became less excited.

Soon, though, his eyes widened and he held his nose high as he darted back and forth over the trail.  Clearly, he had picked up another scent.  I looked, to the south this time, and saw a big bushy tail disappear over a high rocky ridge.  I wanted to get a closer look this time, so I called Muttboy to me and we ran up the hill, leaping from boulder to boulder and over jagged, broken branches.  We came to the ridgeline, and I saw two possibilities.  A faint game trail ran to the right, up the ridge, while another, even fainter trail tumbled down the rocky cliff.  Muttboy was clearly in favor of the higher trail, and he sniffed anxiously, seeking the fox.  That way, though, looked almost impassible for someone my size.  Though a dog or a fox could easily dart under the tough, grabbing branches of the mountain laurel thicket, I would have to double over and even crawl in some places.  I decided to give up the chase, and scrambled down the tumbled rocks to the trail below.

As we trudged along the trail, I looked up at the top of the stone escarpment above me.  There it was.  The fox was lying on a flat rock, its bushy tail curled in front of it, gazing at us intently.  I stopped and looked at it.  It stared back at me.  Its red coat looked thick and rich, and its inscrutable gaze lay on me steadily.  “What are you doing up there?” I called out.  The fox did not deign to respond, but kept watching me.  We stood, eying each other for several minutes, Muttboy wondering the entire time what was going on.  The wind was blowing the wrong direction for him to catch the scent, and I could not make him look the right way.  Every time I pointed he looked in a different wrong direction.

I started to walk toward the rocky cliff to get a closer look, but this made the fox uncomfortable, and it vanished in the laurel.  I returned to the trail and resumed my walk.  A moment later I again looked across the shallow declivity to the tall thrust of stone.  There, on a large boulder, stood the fox, watching us again.  I stopped to look again, and the fox crouched on the rock.  It saw me still looking, so it carefully backed up until just its eyes and ears showed above the edge of stone.  “I can still see you,” I called, and it backed up a little more.  Just its red ears showed above the boulder.  I laughed at this attempt at sneakiness, and the ears twitched.  I imagined the annoyance the fox felt at being seen.  Muttboy and I crossed to the bluff and started climbing noisily.  The fox vanished again, and, thought I looked for a red, furry spy, I could not see it anywhere.

We returned to the car and then to home, happy with our fox chase.  Standing on the trail, staring into the eyes of the fox only fifty feet away, was beautiful.  The fox, apparently, was as curious about me and Muttboy as we were about it.  I felt a moment of communion with something wild.

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