Don’t Panic, But This Is Gonna Sound Bad

Day’s Verse:
Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Psalm 61:1-4

I was T-boned by a car while riding my bike in Bellevue today.

That’s about the simplest way to put it, I think. Details:

Today is gorgeous. I mean just beautiful: Low 60s, sunny, light easterly breeze. The kind of day when Artemis just begs me to hop on and go for a long, luxurious ride. Who am I to resist? After Ian and I finished the morning of theology class with our church (a topic that deserves a whole nother post all on its own), I changed into bike clothes and left from the pastor’s house in Bothell.

I rode out to Paradise Lake Road and it was so wonderful, and I felt so great — better than I have in weeks on my bike, strong and not struggling at all — that I decided to extend my ride. Instead of going home on 124th, I turned onto the Sammamish River Trail and hooked up with the 520 trail in Redmond. I planned to zip up through Kirkland (I was really looking forward to the flight down Northup Way, too), turn left onto Juanita Way, go over that hill, and come back home either on Simonds Road or via the bike path and Waynita Way.

It was gonna be a fabulous ride. Occasionally Mt. Rainier peeked out; the sun felt warm, the shade cool, my legs strong, and I felt like I could just keep going forever.

I might have actually executed my plan if, at the intersection of 148th AVE NE and NE 29th Pl, a contractor for Oracle driving a Hertz rental car hadn’t turned left into me as I went straight down 148th.

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I was in the right-turn lane, but towards the left-center, because I wanted to not turn right there but turn onto the bike path immediately across the intersection. Traveling about 19 miles an hour, I didn’t even have time to register that this guy was turning until I saw his hood right there on my left. Next thing I knew, WHAM! I’m up on the hood and then down on the ground.

Everything went downhill from there. The driver got out of the car immediately and started urging me to get up out of the street. People were talking to me, other cars were honking, drivers were asking me things, the driver and his wife were trying to move me and my bike out of the way, and I was just feeling incredibly confused and shaky.

I refused to move for a while. Eventually, when I ascertained that nothing seemed that awfully painful, I picked myself and my bike up off the road. The driver pulled his car into a nearby apartment complex parking lot, somebody called 911, and I started limping me and my bike over there. That’s when I noticed the front wheel was tacoed — not horribly, but it will definitely have to be replaced. At that point I stopped worrying about myself and started worrying about my bike: I can’t afford to replace the bike or most of its parts.

Which shows my priorities may need readjusting. But I felt OK, for having just been in a collision with a motor vehicle. Anyway, we sat for a while and a guy brought me an ice pack for my extremely bruised left hip (I assume that’s where I impacted the car hood, there and my left elbow) and somebody else called 911. The driver and his wife, both from India, begged me not to make the collision sound too bad. The driver said it was nobody’s fault… and I didn’t disagree verbally, although any left-turn collision like that is a fairly straightforward case of failure to yield right-of-way. Turns out the driver saw me but thought I was going slower than I was, and decided to zip in front of me, or at least that’s what I gathered.

I called Mom, who immediately dispatched Dad and Ian. While I waited for them, the Fire Department arrived and started palpating my neck, back, and head, all of which seem fine. Then the medics arrived and talked with the firemen and took over. They didn’t seem overly concerned about me since I had been able to walk from the intersection to the nearby parking lot. They asked if I wanted to go to the emergency room, and I eventually decided no: Last time I crashed on my own I got rushed there and was perfectly fine, except for the $700 bill. Now Ian and I don’t have that kind of money lying around, and I wanted to avoid it if I could.

So the medics left after giving me an ice pack for my elbow and a hospital blanket. I’d started shivering badly between the ice pack on my hip, my right leg (the inside hit the frame of my bike, I think, and is fairly painful when I stand up), elbow, and all the shock. After the medics left, the firemen hung around and filled out a medical report until the police officer and Dad and Ian arrived. They were probably also making sure I didn’t suddenly pass out or start acting really weird or some other indication of brain injury.

The police officer took a report and gave the driver and me a copy of each other’s contact information. The driver has an Indian driver’s license. Huh. Then we loaded my poor, battered bike and my poor, battered self into Dad’s car and went home. Now I’ve taken ibuprofen and have ice packs strategically placed on my extremities.

Tomorrow it’s gonna feel exactly like I was hit by a car.

Frankly, my biggest worry continues to be my bike. I’m young and very fit, and this was almost as mild as a car-bike collision could have been. I’ll have to get a whole new front wheel and helmet for sure, possibly a new front fork since that’s carbon fiber and probably is cracked, possibly a new rear wheel, and (oh goodness) new carbon fiber handlebars. I shudder to think of the cost. I just am PRAYING my titanium frame is OK. My fear is that the driver, who at one point said, “This wasn’t anybody’s fault,” won’t or can’t pay to fix the damage. But my sense is these guys don’t have any money; it’s going to have to be their insurance company. I can’t afford to fix all the stuff that might be broken. But I’ll save my panicking in that area until I can have a couple bike shops check the bike out and assess the damage, and until I start working with the driver and Oracle’s insurance company. Because of course the driver was insured through Oracle and was driving a rental car.

I really, really wish I could have just finished my beautiful day ride as uneventfully as I’ve completed all my other rides for years.

In Business

Day’s Verse:
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31

Yesterday I got my FIRST EVER box of official business cards. I’m seriously so excited, it’s totally out of proportion with the cards themselves.

Another thing that excited me today: I saw a bald eagle by Enatai Beach on my commute this morning. Then I nearly crashed into the fence between me and the freeway because I was craning my neck to see the eagle.

And, speaking of first ever things, tomorrow we have our first ever Pod meeting where all the AmeriCorps interns in Washington (with a few exceptions) meet and do…stuff. It’s that well defined. The great news is that I don’t have any responsibilities beyond getting myself to Pike Place Market at 10:00 tomorrow morning. Can do!

Like a Day Off, But Not Really

Day’s Verse:
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Psalm 37:5-6

It’s 10:41 and I’m not at work yet. This is very strange, but nice: I’ve gotten all sorts of things done that I don’t have energy to do at the end of the day. I got up and shaved my legs (feeling the breeze in my leg hair as I ride isn’t an experience I anticipate eagerly), washed some dishes, washed the sheets and remade the bed, cleaned the bathroom thoroughly, and made two loaves of chocolate chip banana nut bread. Generally these chores don’t bother me, but most workdays I arrive home so worn out that I can’t summon any more energy to actually do them. Now I’m thinking about doing some basic, routine bike maintenance — re-lubing my bike chain, wiping my gorgeous pink fenders down, and pumping up the tires.

By the way, if you own a bike and don’t ride it very often, there’s a quick once-over you should do before riding. It’s called the ABC Quick Check.

A is for Air. Check the pressure in your tires with a gauge or by pressing with your thumb if you know how it should feel. Add more air at least every week if you ride frequently.
B is for Brakes. Squeeze the brake levers. You should be able to fit your thumb between the handlebars and the levers when they’re braking all the way. Another brake check is to squeeze the front brake lever all the way and rock your bike forward so the back wheel comes off the ground; then squeeze the rear brake lever all the way and drag the bike forward so it skids a little bit. That confirms your brakes are working.
C is for Crank, Chain, Chainrings, and Cassette. Basically this is the entire drive-train of the bicycle. Back-pedal the bike and listen/watch the chain as it goes around, monitoring for any odd noises. This checks the cassette and chainrings. Rub the chain: Your fingers should come away clean. Keep the chain metal-colored, not black or rusty. Finally, grab the cranks and try to wobble them away from the bike a little bit. They should be firm and not go side-to-side at all.
Quick is for Quick Releases. Check the quick releases on your wheels, brakes, and, if you have it, on the seat post. A correctly adjusted quick release should point away from your direction of travel and, when you close it, should leave a white imprint on your palm but not be agonizingly difficult to open or close.
Check is for…Check. Lift your bike no more than 6″ from the ground and drop it (gently). Listen for any unexpected clanks or rattles. Checking also involves going for a short ride before taking off to shift through the gears and do a general check to confirm it feels right as you ride.

Whew. Now that I have that LCI-inspired material off my chest, we can get back to my regularly scheduled blog.

Unfortunately, the flip side of still being here that at 10:40 tonight I probably won’t have gotten home yet from the tabling event I’m helping with in Tacoma. Also having a shifted work day today means tomorrow and Friday will also get totally thrown off. I also have about 6 hours to make up for the day I took off when Grandma Sullivan was in the hospital last week, and the AmeriCorps time sheet system continues to confuse the heck out of me. I’m just trying to make sure I get in 8 hours every day or 40 hours for the week, and then sort out the rest later. That’s harder than it seems, since nearly every week some unusual event comes up and requires me to put in some strange hours.

Charles River and its regular 8:30 to 4:30 my internship ain’t — and I’m really OK with that.

Finishing and Starting

Day’s Verse:
[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Cor. 13:7

The weekend, and my two last-minute presentations is — are — auughh, no parallel structure…! — over! Truly, my weekend activities have sunk to a new low indeed when I start looking forward to Monday.

Over the course of the weekend, I kept a list of things the LCI Coach did that I disliked. I planned on writing a long letter to Preston Tyree, the Education Director at the League of American Bicyclists, about how incompetent I thought the LCI Coach was. I even thought about posting my irate correspondence here on my blog as an open letter.

Fortunately, some small, socially adept voice inside me (it’s very small) told me that even if I decided to write a letter to Preston, posting said letter here would probably not help anything. “Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it loving?” kept echoing through my head, and I had to admit, “No, no, and…no.” Ah well. Besides, I finished the weekend intact, if frustrated and disgruntled, but in one piece. Better yet, the LCI Coach said that he would report back to Preston that I should be upgraded from LCI-in-Training, which is the designation I got upon completing my seminar in October, to a fully-qualified League Cycling Instructor. That means I can teach classes on my own if I want to.

Even though I may come out of this weekend as a full LCI, I’m not sure it was worth it. One way to tell would be to do a pros/cons list.

Pros:

  • Practice guiding students on the road – very helpful and confidence-building for when I actually teach on my own.
  • Review LAB curriculum and “procedures” (if the random smattering of activities associated with classes could be considered such).
  • Meet a dozen nice Seattle-area cyclists.
  • Build relationship with Cascade Bicycle Club.
  • Maybe become fully qualified LCI, if he remembers to contact Preston.

Cons:

  • Work with this particular LCI Coach.
  • No sleeping in any day all weekend — I woke up at 5:30 and had to not only get rolling immediately, but pack lunch, snacks, dinner, and clothes both days.
  • Longer-than-8-hour-days Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • Missing most of the warmest, sunniest weekend yet.
  • The stress of creating presentations at truly the last minute.
  • No opportunity to spend time some QT with Ian or to make some delicious yeast bread, both of which I try to do on a weekly basis at least.
  • No long rest for my legs.
  • Monday feels like the middle of the week.
  • Generally high stress levels the entire week before, and during the event.
  • I can’t count any of those 20+ hours towards my internship at all, even though me being an LCI is very beneficial for the Bicycle Alliance.
  • And, of course, working with this particular LCI Coach.

I have to say that, in summary, it was probably not a wise decision to agree to assist this weekend. I did get some benefits from it, but the costs far outweighed those benefits.

And alas, finishing the weekend only meant starting the week — a week that, as usual, is stuffed to the gills with AmeriCorps and internship-related activities, so there’s no real break in sight.

LCI Seminar Trainwreck

Day’s Verse:
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Oh my goodness. It is so much worse than I thought or expected, and I already had extremely low expectations; it really is like a train wreck in slow motion. I’m not going into the full extent of the awfulness here right now, but let me just mention one extremely disturbing development: The LCI Coach is the person who teaches an LCI Seminar and he’s responsible for training new LCIs. The LCI Assistants, of which I am one, serve as extra eyes and ears for the LCI Coach in assessing the new LCIs as they teach. At least, that’s what I was led to believe.

Last night, however, the LCI Coach mentioned sort of off-hand, “I have assigned a few presentations to the LCI Assistants, and I trust they’ll volunteer to cover those.”

Let me just say right now that when I did my LCI Seminar in October, I spent hours preparing for my two presentations. I created lesson plans, I designed handouts and printed enough copies for everybody in the class (something this LCI Coach and the organizer of the Seminar both seem incapable of, but that’s a different story), found props, and practiced over and over to refine the amount of time my presentations took. Ian got really tired of hearing me talk about bike nutrition and bike fit, but even with that preparation, I felt a little bit anxious. Happily, my preparations paid off and both my presentations went beautifully; everybody loved them.

That said, imagine how I feel when last night, with no advance warning (despite my having emailed the LCI Coach and the seminar organizer in charge of the event asking if I should prepare in any way) or any time to prepare, I found out that I would be responsible for a group presentation today (Saturday) and an individual presentation on Sunday. And the LCI Coach specifically mentioned that he wanted “assess me” because he’d never seen me teach before, since I took my LCI Seminar in Boston with a different Coach. Yet that Coach passed me as an LCI-in-Training just fine. Why do I need more assessment?

In short — I know, I know, too late — I am seething. I agreed somewhat spur-of-the-moment to help with this because I thought it would give me a chance to review LCI need-to-know information before I start teaching bike classes myself. Also, they offered $100 for the weekend (not exactly a prime motivation since I’m spending over 20 hours on this activity in 2.5 days). Now I’m ready to walk out, not just over what I described above, but over a number of other issues. Only my concern for the other LCI Candidates, one of whom was in tears because of the other issues with the seminar Coach when I encountered her in the bathroom yesterday evening, makes me willing to go back. Boy am I glad I didn’t pay money for this like all the LCI Candidates.

I’m just keeping my eyes on the goal: Monday, and getting one class under my belt so I can shed the “In Training” part and become a full LCI. When I get to go back to work at the usual time without any breaks after this grueling weekend, and I’m confident I will feel only the deepest relief that Saturday and Sunday have passed.

Here Goes Nothin’

Day’s Verse:
“Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you…”

Jeremiah 1:5

This entire weekend I’m spending as an Assistant LCI for the LCI Seminar Cascade Bicycle Club has organized. 20 hours in 3 days. Perhaps you remember the misery I went through back in October when I took my own LCI Seminar. Which raises the question: Why am I doing this again?

Pretty In Pink — My Bike, That Is

~~~
Day’s Verse:
You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Isaiah 62:3
~~~

Yesterday Ian gave me an unexpected but wonderful Valentine’s Day present: New fenders. I kept seeing and drooling over a pair of fenders in the window at JRA Bike Shop, which occupies part of the space at the BikeStation, where I work. Finally yesterday afternoon I guiltily confessed my obsession to Ian. The guilt came from knowing that my old fenders worked perfectly fine, and I really only wanted the new ones for their looks. Ian immediately told me to buy them for myself and consider it his Valentine’s Day gift to me. He didn’t have to offer twice — I immediately went and purchased the much-coveted fenders. Then I borrowed some tools from the bike shop and spent about an hour putting them on and fine-tuning so they didn’t rub or anything. Very unique. Now all I need is a saddle and bar tape to match…

Pink Fenders

While purchasing the fenders, I talked with the guy who runs the bike shop about pumps. He recommended the Topeak Road Morph bicycle pump, which supposedly can inflate tires to 160 psi — quite a feat for a small on-bike pump. I’d settle for 120 psi, my usual pressure, or even 80 psi, just to limp home. I bought that, too, and put it on at the same time I put the fenders on. I feel much better having replaced the stupid failing CO2 cartridges with something I know will work. Oh, and I picked up another tube, since I used my emergency tube fixing the flat. Now I feel prepared again.

By the way, my tire remained inflated, which made me very happy. After that I only had to struggle with the irritating ongoing problem of my disc brakes. Every time I take one of the wheels off, when I put them back on, I have to totally readjust the disc brakes all over again. I can never seat the wheel exactly right so it works the first time. There are definite down sides to disc brakes, and one of them is their extreme finickiness. However, they paid off last winter in all the snow and ice when my brakes worked no matter what, and I expect them to pay off again when I start towing a trailer.

Yep, a trailer. I’m thinking of trying to ride home from the July AmeriCorps training in Trout Lake, and I will need to be 100% self-supported for that adventure. That means hauling a tent and sleeping bag, plus of course food, water, clothes, and repair kit stuff. I could invest in fenders, but I explored that option and it looks like it could become extremely expensive extremely fast.

Why would it be so expensive? Well, I’m glad you asked. If I wanted to put on a rear rack with any appreciable load, which my bike is already set up to accept, I’d also have to put on a front rack to balance out the weight and handling. But I have a fancy-dancy carbon fork right now that cannot take a rack or any significant weight. That means that in addition to buying a front and rear rack and panniers (for a total cost of at least $700), I would also have to buy a new front fork. Because my bike has custom specs, that means I have to buy a custom front fork. A quick phone call told me that a custom front fork costs about $450, give or take. So to actually set my bike up as a touring bike would cost me almost $1200 just for mods to the bicycle itself.

Compare that to purchasing a bicycle trailer on Craigslist. Those run anywhere between $25 (old and crappy) to $195 (practically new, fancy brand). I wouldn’t have to do anything else special to my bike to tow a trailer because the people at Seven built it with towing abilities.

This is a pretty easy choice, really. I would like to set my bike up for touring some day, but since I’ll need a trailer to tow kids at some point too, the decision really makes itself.

Racks and panniers it is! …Just kidding.

KF quality