Saturday, October 3, 2015

Biking and Bladder Control

The last time I crashed my bike in a spectacular way, I was with Jeff and Ali on the Canal Tow Path and I went straight down into a deep ditch on the waterless side of the dirt path. Engrossed in counting turtles, they kept going and I had to drag my leaf-strewn, bruised and bloody body back up to the path. Alison was probably 8 or 10.

I was probably 12 or so the other time I remember crashing. I was riding my sister's 10-speed -- likely without permission -- down the road from my parent's house. A crazy dog was chasing me and I was trying to dodge it. I finally escaped him by sliding off the road entirely, over a ditch and under the electric fence that surrounded a field separating Charlie Wilson's house from the Johnsons.

Across from that field lived the Millers. And on this sunny afternoon, my father was in the front yard talking over or working on a small renovation at the Miller house. The dog was loud. The crash fairly spectacular. Much like the tow path incident, though, my impending doom must have muted me.

This is what I remember hearing in the eery silence as I twitched a bit from the combination of nearly being ripped to shreds by some slobbering mongrel and the combination of an electric charged fence reacting to me having lost all control of my youthful bladder.

"Ain't that your youngest girl, Don?"


"She alright?"

"Looks like it."

"That fence live?"

"Don't look like it."

This exchange occurred between two grown men. Fathers the both of them, who stood stock still watching first the chase then the sight of a young girl tangled up in an electric fence. Not to mention the damn killer dog.

Remember that I grew up with two thug brothers. Crying only worsened whatever ill had befallen you when they were around. Usually they were a large part of the ill. While they weren't around to be blamed for this particular incident, my father was also a faithful subscriber to the No Crying Club. We didn't see a doctor unless the blood wouldn't stop or a bone protruded.

If I could demonstrate the ability to extricate the bike and myself on my own, it would be clear that I had passed some sort of test. So of course that's what I did. I don't know where the dog went, but I went home. My father apparently finished whatever he was doing.

I thought of that crash today when I braved the chilly weather and a bit of rain to fulfill an obligation to my friend Karin Ogden whose work team is involved in some crazy competition about demonstrating love of riding bicycles. I almost didn't go. It was really cold. But I'd said I would do my part so I dug out my ear muffs, bundled up and got out on the Monon Trail on my trusty bike.

I set an alarm on my phone so I'd know when to turn around. I mean, I love Karin and I will fulfill my obligation but I'm not going to risk frostbite to do it any longer than I need to. So there I was, counting the minutes and wondering how far I'd gone.

Part of the biking challenge is to take a picture while you're biking and to report in. So I pulled out my phone, thinking I'd take a picture of the other folks on the trail and pair it with a quippy line about how I was surprised I wasn't the only one out in this chilly weather. This grand inspiration came as I was approaching an intersection and a car was approaching from the left. So I had to brake.

It might be possible to take photo with one hand while braking a bike with the other, but I will never know. Because when I did it, I over-braked. And that made the bike jerk to a stop. Which made me almost drop my phone. But I didn't want to drop my phone on the asphalt, so I stopped braking to get a more secure grip on my phone. Which made the bike fall over. That chain of events might make a woman of a certain age who's had a child lose her grip on another part of her body. Maybe. It was raining, so who can say, really?

My little accident happened just before the intersection, still on the trail so I wasn't in danger of getting run over by a car. I was wearing all black like a ninja but somehow the real cyclists on the other side of the street still saw me. They were kind enough to inquire about me as they rode by. I was upright by this time, securing my phone in a pocket and retying my shoe, clearly in no need of assistance. But it was nice to be asked.

Anyway, I limped home, showered and ran a load of darks all the while grateful there are no electric fences along the Monon Trail. Now I'm going to record my ride. I don't think the #LovetoRide folks have a trophy for this kind of challenge but I think they might need to consider it.

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