Thursday, September 25, 2008

Where I'm Writing From

A bus via a car. That's my commute these days. I dislocated my shoulder again. Holy fuck that hurts. I super manned up tho. Told the doc I didn't want meds. Just put it back in. I have to go. I can't waste time in the ER. I gotta get home before this kid wakes up and unleashes her fury on being taken to such a wholly un-fun place as this.

So I couldn't ride. Not sure I still can but I'm going to next week. I have most of my mobility back but my arm is a little Tyrannosaur arm. It's there, but it's feeble and weak. I just need it to steady the handle bar and that's about it.

My point of this post was just to post and not be dead. I was hoping it would be a nice post but I know that the Robot got pulled over (AGAIN) this morning so his story is going to trump the hell out of mine. His tale of being stuffed into a police cruiser trunk and driven out to Quincey and hung out by his ankles over a quarry and made to give up his gang. Of course he wouldn't talk. So they dropped him and he had to hide below the surface and play dead. Luckily he found an air pocket in an old submerged refrigerator. So he waited till the air was gone and swam up to the surface and climbed out of the quarry and rode back to Boston to make a 10am meeting. It's a great tale. You'll love it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bureaucracy (in)action

I wrote a note to the Mayor of Boston one morning in June:

DATE/TIME:6/13/2008 9:38:41 PM

SUBJECT:cycling in Boston

MESSAGE:Mayor Menino,

I appreciate the focus you've brought to cycling in the City of Boston, and I applaud what efforts you've made to make the city more friendly for cyclists. As an every day rider myself, I would suggest that the best thing you can do for cyclists is to enforce traffic laws. Many people I know who say they would like to ride their bicycles to work won't do so, because they're frightened by our traffic. Drivers run lights, fail to signal and generally flout the traffic laws anyway they want. I have never seen a driver receiving a moving violation in the City of Boston. Never. I believe that reining in Boston's renegade drivers would do a lot, not only to improve conditions for cyclists, but also for visitors to our city.

Anything you can do would be appreciated.
PunkRockBicycleRobot (not how I really signed it)

I received a reply today:

Dear Mr. Robot:

Thank you for emailing Mayor Menino. This email is to confirm we received your message. I will forward your concerns to the appropriate personnel.

Disinterested City Employee (not her real name)
Interim Communications Aide

So, wow! It took three months to get a form letter back from the city, essentially telling me that they got my note and will now forward it off into space, someday to see it collide with an errant comet or other piece of space debris.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Fallout

So, of course, once you reach a certain age, a simple bicycle accident is no long just a simple bicycle accident. The week after my mishap, I found I was very angry on the bike. I pounded on the trunks of cabs. I yelled at drivers who failed to signal. I was clearly shaken by the experience and taking it out on anyone who crossed my path.

Also, my wrist still hurts. I've been riding with a wrist brace on, which sucks and is uncomfortable. And because my body is older than it used to be, I can only assume this injury will linger into the winter. I'm off the bike today, trying to get it a little extra rest. Not sure what I'll do tomorrow. Probably not the smart thing.

Last Thursday I compounded my cycling misery with a mechanical on the way home in the dark. I was cranking along when all of a sudden I heard a POP-TING!! For a moment I thought maybe I had kicked a rock up into the frame, but then there was another POP, and the pedals went slack. I'd somehow blown the master link on my chain. The first sound was the face plate flying off and dinging the frame. The second was the link letting go.

Fortunately, I was just up the hill (and thus able to coast) from my bike shop, AND the lunatic who owns the place was still there, half-an-hour after closing time. So he slapped a new chain on for me. It's too bad that, in his haste to get me going (and thus get himself home) he mis-adjusted the spacing on the rear wheel, so that every heavy pedal stroke produces a horrible grinding sound that repeated dirtying of my hands has failed to fix.

That's another reason I left the bike home today. That horrible, horrible sound. It goes away if I flip the wheel and ride fixed, but given the dodginess of my wrist, that prospect held no little charm either.

The Cyclosaur sustained an injury of his own, which has kept him off his steel mount for some weeks. I wish he'd go ahead and tell us about it, but he's too busy for the likes of us. Me. You. And our silly hobby.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Man down!

Well, it finally happened. I got hit.

Fortunately, it was a side swipe and not a head on, and I saw it coming, so I was able to mitigate the damage. What happened is that I was riding fast up one of Cambridge's central thoroughfares (one of the ones I wrote about avoiding the other day) in the bike lane, when a woman in a Volvo passed me on the left. She then put on her right turn signal and cut straight across my lane, trying to get into the grocery store parking lot.

I yelled. Loud. She pulled her head out of her ass just in time to keep from cleaning me out completely, but I skidded into her front quarter panel, trying not to go over the hood. In the process I seem to have acquired a little road rash on the back of my right hand and a slight sprain of my left wrist.

When I got up off the pavement, I said something like, "Did you not fucking see me? Did you not fucking look? Let me answer for you. No. You didn't fucking look."

She mouthed the words, "Are you ok?" through the windshield (she didn't get out), and I said, "I'm ok." and rode off, cause I was pissed. Apparently I was also completely jacked on adrenaline. I flew the rest of the way home, oblivious to the pain in my wrist.

When I got home finally, I was talking a mile a minute and sweating like a fiend. It took a little while to settle down.

I can see that I was enormously lucky not to be hurt worse. Not to be killed. I mean, Volvos are heavy. They don't have to hit you that hard to do serious, even fatal, damage. The whole experience reinforces that old idea that it doesn't matter how careful you are. You can never tell what other people are going to do.

This woman should have seen me. She passed me. I was right there in front of her, and then next to her, and then bouncing off her front end. I was doing everything correctly. I was in my lane. And then bang!

Fortunately I have a day off the bike today (home with the baby), and a leftover left-handed wrist brace, from a previous injury. So, I'm braced up, and hoping to be healed enough by tomorrow morning to get back on that horse and ride.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The new one

eBay sold me this beautiful thing. I hope to have it rolling by springtime.

Monday, September 8, 2008

In the interests of sanity

In the interests of sanity, I have begun riding alternate routes. When I ride the same car and cyclist choked arteries every day, I find I end up yelling at drivers and shaking my head at helmet-less idiots. I don't know why I expect the world to be any other way than it is, i.e. full of idiots, me among them, but that's what happens when I force myself through the city's narrowest sluices along with the rest of the human detritus.

And so, many mornings, I ride out of the way, down Mass Ave. and up the river, pedaling slowly past the homeless who camp there, the tattered Canada geese who shit all over the path and the morning joggers who all impress me with their shear will to improve themselves.

That is a quiet, peaceful ride, despite Storrow Drive roaring its way alongside. I keep my head cocked to the river side. I watch the rowers in their sculls, gliding along the water, the mallards and cormorants sunning themselves. I gauge the wind by the ripples on the water and try hard not to hurry.

On the way home, I've been veering off the mainline, Hampshire St, that cuts through Cambridge, and riding up to Union Square, where the pavement is almost lunar with bumps and craters. Beyond that I catch Summer Street, which climbs the long hill to Somerville Hospital. No one rides that route because it's all up. Commuters don't climb if they don't have to. So I have it to myself, and I have to say it's made me stronger. What was once a lung-busting grind, is now a steady spin. With a wind at my back, I've even sprinted the whole thing.

What a feeling that is, to sprint a hill I once struggled to summit with my one stingy gear.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do while riding a bicycle is to just sit and ride. It is only too easy to get wrapped up in everything else that goes on around you, the lousy drivers, the weather, the heat. I am at my best when I just sit and ride.

Just shut the hell up and ride.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fucking with 5-0

Yeah, so having learned little or nothing from the warning ticket I was written last week, I seem to be courting disaster by seeking confrontation/interaction with the police officers of our fair city.

On Thursday, I pulled up behind a cop car in Cambridge. We were both pulling on to Cambridge Ave actually, and he didn't signal. So, of course, I rode up next to him, and asked, "Hey, if you don't use your turn signals, why would anyone else?"

A conversation ensued. Sort of.

He told me I was a jerk and that I should worry about myself, to which I replied, "I do worry about myself, which is why I'm asking the question."

That didn't go over so well, but I didn't get arrested. I will say that I maintained a respectful tone of voice during the whole exchange. I apologized if he felt I was asking an unreasonable question. I think he just acted like an asshole cause he knew I was right. Either that, or he was an asshole.

Then, yesterday, on my way home, I had a cop step out in front of me in Boston. I slowed down. Apparently he hadn't seen me, probably cause he didn't look. I followed behind him for 10 or 15 yards, at which point he glanced over his shoulder and said, "Oh, sorry," and stepped out of the way.

I said, "Hey, you've got a gun. I figured I'd let you go first." He smiled and said, "Don't make me use it," but he was laughing and clearly wasn't flustered. Nor did he feel it necessary to let me know that he was a cop and that I shouldn't be talking to him. A nice guy.

I rode on.

But again, it all has me thinking about the way the city works, who is in charge, why we've given them the power and whether or not they deserve it. Is there any better way? I still see it as sort of a free for all. With all our laws, even simple things like traffic laws, there seems to be little black and white, little rhyme or reason. Or perhaps I just have trouble with the gray of it. Maybe I'm just not intuiting what I ought to be doing, how I ought to behave.

So I'll just keep pedaling. I'll just keep climbing the hills and coasting the turns and hoping not to get crushed.