There's nothing quite like lying in a pool of your own stupidity to bring a little perspective to your life.
I had not put a bike down in so long that I don't really know when I last actually crashed- that is until I hit a truck a few weeks ago. After struggling with the shifting on my bike at last Sunday's race I didn't even take the Elite out of the car. I just took it to Zane's on Monday- where, while waiting for it to get taken in, I ran my hand along the back wheel and cut three fingers on a 2cm piece of wire that just happened to go in on a graceful angle and not flat me- I could just have easily not finished Greenwich as finish where I did.
So I took out my Lightspeed. I love the bike. I have about 10K miles on the bike, not much, I know, but way more than what's on the Elite still. However, it's been relegated to my trainer bike the last two years and hasn't been tuned up since 2005.
So what made me think I could take it out on the road ?
I was actually having a great ride. the bike is huge- 700 wheels- deep dish rolf vector pros, two bottle cages. It can fly. When I sprint, I can get 5 mph out of it I'll never see on the Elite. Of course, it's not as much of a climbing bike and overall, I ride faster and more comfortably on the Elite.
Did I mention it hadn't been tuned up in two years. After 17 sweet miles, I came to realise this is too long.
Apparently I stand a lot when I corner and I'm by myself- I stand up as I come through the turn, power back up to speed.
Or the chain slips off the outside of the big ring. Your bike has to be in a state of disrepair for outdoor riding for this to happen. I went from big ring 14 and accelerating to no ring 14 and blocking the road with the side of my face in about 0.1 seconds as my right knee smashed into the aerobar. Somewhere in between, the bike commenced a sickening wobble that I know was about to lead to a massive face plant. I hit mostly helmet, but gashed open my eye.
My helmet saved my life. I am saying this because on Sunday I went on the Zanes ride and there was a guy WITH NO HELMET. I mean, this guy has major riding chops. Kick my ass skills- in fact, kicked my ass at the end of the ride. Better handling skills, better set of legs, probably better hair. But I've been off my bike twice after years without a crash- a truck hit me, and my chain gave out, and without a helmet I'm not writing this blog. I didn't touch a back wheel or blow through a stop sign. Anything can happen- to anyone. Helmets save lives and last time I checked, no one made fun of you for wearing one. But I digress.
The picture below is what I looked like 43 miles after that. Yeah, I slipped the chain back on, waved off the runner and the truck driver I'd freaked out by doing Face de Soleil on the tarmac, and twenty seconds later, I was back on the saddle and riding. At the next corner, i stood up again and what do you know ? The chain came off again. This time I avoided going down, but for the first time in my life I felt like Lance- Lance right after he crotch-danced on his Trek in the Tour, that is.
I rode the last 43 miles afraid to stand up for fear of going down again, with blood dripping down over my Oakleys. Perversely, the blood and the slight pain- I did do an immediate self-assessment and determined that there was no concussion and it was safe to keep riding- relaxed me, even made me grin a little. Getting a little roughed up is part of sport after all and when you can bounce off the road and keep going, it's a confidence builder.
But it doesn't change the fact that under no circumstance should I have taken that bike out for a long ride. I had done a 9 mile time-trial pace ride on the Hammerfest loop two days before to test it out, but with no big climbs, no hard corners, I realise now that ride was no way to evaluate the bike.
Live and learn... but live and get smarter is a better motto. No ride, I decided as I peeled my face up off the road, is worth taking an unnecessary risk with untested equipment. Of course, I did still finish the ride...