“We’ll take our bikes,” I texted Kara. “Not planning any big ride, just a little JRA with Noah.” (Just Riding Around)
And yep, it was 5.4 miles, slow & I easy, with 174 feet of climb up to the Holy Family Shrine (the glass chapel along I-80) and 174 feet back down where I slowed for the descent, then moved to the left to pass K and Noah around the curve at the bottom of the hill.
I know this route, backwards and forwards, and so I was relaxed, easy… and inattentive. The gravel in the center of the road wasn’t deep, but it was deep enough, and the bike went right out from under me. I crashed, stopping forward motion mostly with my face. I thought first of Noah and jumped up quickly, “I’m fine! I’m fine!” and that’s true: I’m fine. Nothing broken, nothing concussed. A wrenched knee now immobilized for a few days, a few layers of skin off that knee and elbow, and I really chewed up my face. Nine stitches in the ER last night.
There was a lot of blood – I looked like a Walking Dead extra after a fresh meal. So Noah was scared, and I feel badly about that. He’ll be okay, and so will I.
I made a mistake and I’m paying for it. I’m missing out on a fun, flat century I wanted to do today, I won’t be able to swim or hang out in the sun until my face heals, RAGBRAI is at risk — at least riding all 7 days. I scared my friend and my son. Still, I feel like I got off easy.
Riding gravel is the kind of riding I want to do. Gravel didn’t cause the crash, complacency did. I’ve ridden far more technical routes at far higher speeds; the difference was absolute and complete focus. And probably some beginner’s luck. Let’s be honest: I’m still new at this. So I’m giving thanks that this crash wasn’t high speed, didn’t involve other people, and yes, the bike is okay. Also very grateful to K for taking me to the ER and taking Noah home, and to Jennie for picking me up. (Sisters don’t get anonymity, LOL.)
Riding gravel is the kind of riding I want to do. It’s slower, the routes are rural with all that entails — less traffic, more wildlife, and views that make you pull over and inhale the smell of sun-warmed grass and hot dust, not exhaust and asphalt.
My friends ride gravel, and they’re the friendliest, most helpful, and laid-backest riders there are.
Riding gravel is the kind of riding I do.