Yesterday we enjoyed one of the few genuinely dry days in a month of endlessly drippy skies. In the evening heavy rain fell, but overnight the skies briefly cleared, temperatures dropped, and all that wetness started freezing.
As I mentioned earlier, Saturday I spent with the family at MoPOP, a day very well spent. To get in my biking, I’d arranged to skip church on Sunday and join a Cascade ride led by a friend of mine. I knew I couldn’t keep up with the pace for long — the first hill would likely eliminate me — but that’s the pace I used to ride, and my goal is to get back there for this summer. There’s nothing like riding with faster people to get faster.
When I woke up on Sunday, I looked with dismay at the dusting of snow that prettily covered the grass and roofs. That wasn’t in the plan for this weekend! Roads looked wet but clear, but ice and water look the same sometimes. I went and checked, walking around a bit, and found one small patch of ice and a lot of puddles.
After some agonizing, I decided to stick with the group ride plan. The ride left at 9:30; to ride there, I left at 8:30. The ride there featured mostly wet roads with frozen bridges and temperatures between 28 and 30. I would’ve given a lot for just five degrees warmer, but I got to the start without too much trouble. A few times I felt myself slipping around a bit, but never had any trouble staying upright.
Seventeen people showed up for the fast pace ride. I knew quite a few of them and looked forward to riding with them, at least until I got dropped. I also met a gal named Emily who intended to ride with the group one pace slower, but was “shamed” (her words) into joining the faster group. She told me she’d started riding barely more than a year ago, so I was surprised she wanted to join the super-fast pace group.
Long story short (I know: “too late!”), Emily slipped on ice not 30 seconds into the group ride. I was right behind her and couldn’t dodge. I ran into her and crashed.
You can imagine all the thoughts that went through my head in that split second: holy crap I’m gonna hit her! Oh no I just started riding again! I hope I don’t break anything! I hope my leg is OK! Oh no my bike! Not more frame damage! Is my ride over? Is my season over?
Thankfully, nothing broke on me or my bike. We both got away with minor scratches. Mine will heal; alas, my bike’s won’t, but it looks like nothing worse that cosmetic damage. I’ll have to replace my booties and pants, both of which got ripped, but thankfully the jacket was spared. And more thankfully, I walked away with nothing worse that a few contusions — nothing some Neosporin, Tegaderm, and time couldn’t fix.
I declined to continue on with the group — the route went several places that tend to be icy even when everywhere else is clear, and I felt uneasy about riding in a large group after crashing — but my friend John and I peeled off and did our own ride. He was peripherally involved in the crash and had to do some mechanical troubleshooting anyway.
Overall, I’m extremely thankful that things turned out so mild. No major injuries and no major bike damage means we all got off easy. After it warmed up, we enjoyed a really lovely, sunny ride of the type I haven’t had in a long time.
What’s next? Well, until now I hadn’t crashed in nigh on 10 years, and I don’t intend to start a new pattern now. I’ll continue riding careful and smart… And give new cyclists a little wider berth. I honestly think that gal Emily fell when everyone else didn’t (and I can attest that a lot of other people rode past us over the same patch of ground while we got ourselves sorted out) because she didn’t have much experience. I rode on small patches of ice on the way and didn’t have any trouble. She probably just didn’t have the experience and muscle memory to know what to do to stay up when it got a little slippery.