Nicely Done, Asshole

“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.

2 thoughts on “Nicely Done, Asshole

  1. First of all, you have my permission to use my name on here any time you like. Second of all, I've been turning this situation over and over in my head all weekend. How on EARTH did the simple ride we took turn into a trip to the ER? Especially when we ride gravel fairly frequently in much higher stakes situations? My daughter wanted to facetime as soon as I got home, and I told her and my parents about the situation. My mom asked the same questions. And I said something like \”Well, it only takes one large stray rock in the line you've chosen to ride to mess you up.\” So I think you are correct, we took care of Noah, we explained situations and pitfalls of gravel riding to him. But we were cocky. And gravel deserves respect. I am glad it wasn't worse. I am glad it wasn't just you and Noah. I am very sad that you've missed out on riding. And I think we've both learned a lesson here. Heal up soon, because I am eager to ride with you again.


  2. I’ve been going over it too & trying to figure out how soon I knew I was losing control of the bike and what an experienced gravel racer might have done, and maybe there was something, maybe not. Bottom line, I was sitting back in my seat coasting because I’ve ridden it dozens of times – but this was the first time I rode it on the Niner & I acted like it had autopilot or something. I should have given the hill the same respect as every rocky hill- in downhill position balanced among all four contact points and up off the seat. I mean, that’s one thing.


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