Feed on


I was Madame Destructo yesterday. It was pretty darn special.

The day started out uneventfully. I was up early to take Griswald to the vet for his annual vaccinations. While it was highly unpleasant for the both of us, what with him howling like he was being disemboweled, it was not in any way a disaster.

Then I went down to Bikes & Trikes for Tykes look at a secondhand bike I thought might be good, but it turns out one of the seatstays was cracked. Not cool.

Then I ran the usual rounds of errands, came back to the house, made some lunch, then got ready to go on the usual Saturday afternoon bike ride.

I left the house around 2:30 to get downtown in plenty of time. There were about a dozen riders out, and we took the eastern route out to Cliff Drive, then came back west on Cliff Drive, Paseo to 18th, 18th back to the shop. A nice, leisurely little trip. Then, after we'd all gotten back and a lot of folks were either packing up their bikes or riding off for home, Christi had a brain flash.

Cheri was giving a presentation out in Blue Springs that evening, and Christi asked if Cheri wouldn't mind giving us a lift out to Landahl. Cheri agreed, reckoning that her presentation would take abut as long as our ride was likely to last, and so we loaded our bikes up on top of her Jeep and away we went.

I hadn't ever been out to Landahl before, but I'd heard that it was really nice. Christi had talked it up before, as had several of the Earthriders I know. They weren't exagerating; it was beautiful out there. The trails are beautifully laid out and maintained. There are a lot of nice, twisty turns and my favorite type of little whoop-dee-doo hills, where you have to take a good run at the uphill side of it, crest it at almost a trackstand, then whoosh down the other side like a rollercoaster. Love. It.

I'm kind of a weenie about some of the rocky technical stuff. My lack of depth perception means that I often lift my front wheel too far ahead of an obstacle, then end up either crashing itno it, or hanging myself up on it. And I'm just plain scared to go down some of that stuff. I've got a pretty good working philosophy with the trails, however. “Ride what I can, walk what I can't, crash when I must.” I wipe out occasionally. Okay, fairly frequently. Normally it doesn't amout to much beyond a few contusions and a minor inconvenience. Yesterday, however, I broke my winning streak of injury-free wrecks.

We'd just cleared a pretty lumpy bit of trail…lots of flat stones, a few kind of chunky ones to dodge around, and a spiderweb of roots that rode like a corduroy road. We were on to a pretty smooth uphill section when I suddenly just went squiffy and fell off the trail. I really don't know what caused me to wreck. There was nothing weird on the trail, I wasn't shoving my glasses back up my sweaty face…nothing weird was going on, but I just lost balance and fell the hell over. As I went down, I guess I kind of tried to either catch myself with my right leg, or bail or something, but I laded with my right foot on a sharp downhill slope and immediately rolled over my ankle. I slid down the hill head-first about 8 feet or so, and came to a rest in my traditional brake of shrubbery. I always land in a bush. If there are no bushes, a great big clump of tall weeds will do, but chances of me falling into a bush are high. I fell into a gigantic stand of cattail reeds once along Bordeau Creek when I still lived in Chadron. Beat the hell of rolling on into the creek, I guess.

Anyhow, as I went down, I let out a barbaric yawp. Christi stopped up ahead a ways up the hill. I think she must have had a spectacular view of my thrashing, head-first descent. She dropped her bike and came down to see if I was okay. I said I would be, but that I needed to just lay there and groan for a bit. Which I proceded to do. After a minute or two of grunting and groaning, I was ready to crawl back up the hill. Christi hoisted my bike up the slope, and I followed it up, gingerly. Christi offered the use of an Ace bandage she had in her bag. I took her up on the offer with alacrity. After binding my throbbing ankle, I decided I was as okay as I was ever going to be, and so we soldiered on. Ironically, I'd been suffering a dehydration headache for a while, despite guzzling down water on a regular basis. It was just crazy hot in there…no air was circulating, and the humidity was high. My glasses kept sliding down my face, and sweat was dropping off the points of my elbows and chin. After crunching the hell out of my ankle, however, I forgot all about the headache. I think I scared the bugger away.

After we crested the hill, things seemed to be going about as okay as I had any right to expect at that point. I like to keep a pretty good “cushion of space” between myself and other riders, because I'm a klutz and because my depth perception is terrible. I'd hate to go down right in front of somebody, or misjudge my descent speed and take somebody out, so I usually leave a good 10' or more between myself and anyone else. So we got up the hill, and Christi was probably about 15' to 20' ahead of me, rounding a sharp turn and heading downhill again. Just as I saw her round the bend, an animal dropped down into the path ahead of me. My first thought was, “what the heck is a cat doing out here?” Then, it started moving, and it didn't walk like a cat, because it was a raccoon. It was obviously scared by my presence. I slowed way down, practically trackstanding, waiting for the little fella to clear out. It stood, frozen there for a moment, then hustled off the trail, popping behind a large log. I allowed myself to start moving again, and looked at the log as I passed. A little grey face with a black mask looked right back at me.

Then, right as I got to the bottom of that very hill, I heard cicada noise much louder than the ambient buzz that had been in evidence ever since we got into the woods. I slowed down again, and started inspecting the branches of the trees along the path, and eventually spotted a great, big, fat, green cicada, pulsing in time with the rhythmic “bizz-bizz-bizz” that is cicada song. They're really cool to see in action, so I felt pretty happy to have seen it doing its little buggy thing.

It wasn't real far beyond this little nature reverie that I started noticing something amiss with my right-side pedal. It felt kind of wobbly. At first I dismissed it as just feeling kind of weird because my foot wasn't moving as it normally would and the dull sensation of pain was throwing off my normal feeling for the pedals. Another 15 minutes or so of riding convinced me otherwise…the pedal really was wiggling around. I shouted ahead to Christi that I was stopping to check it out. I stopped, and reached down to the pedal, to see if it had somehow come unscrewed or something. As I started turning the nut by hand, the whole pedal just pulled straight out of the crank-arm, with some crindy bits of splintered, powdered metal. The threads in the crank-arm had completely stripped out.

So, here we are, out in the woods, kind of turned around, so we had no idea how close to the trailhead we might be, and I'm all wimped out with a sprained ankle and a busted bike. Wow. That's a whole new way to spell “fucked.” I initially started limping along, pushing the bike and kind of using it as a crutch, which proved entirely too awkward. Christi suggested taking the other pedal off, dropping my seat all the way down, and scooter-coasting it out, like a draisienne. This worked surprisingly well. Or course you can't bunny-hop in this manner, nor can you take it down any kind of especially bumpy descents, but on smooth trail, it is do-able. We chose the rest of our route by markers which suggested the riding would be pretty easy, and eventually came upon a marker indicating that we were near the Argo Rd. trailhead. We exited the woods, smack out into open prairie. Within this clearing stood four deer; two mamas, two babies. They watched us approach for a moment, then turned and trotted back into the woods. We went on a little further, maybe a quarter mile, and saw a truly gigantic buck. He stood there watching us, and you could tell he wasn't too worried. he knew he could outrun us if he needed to. We got back to the trailhead. Cheri wasn't back from her presentation yet, so we just chilled, sitting on some concrete dividers, chatting and enjoying the cooler evening.

Maybe 15 or 20 minutes later, Cheri showed up, and we headed back into town. We left my disabled bike at the shop, and they hauled me home.

Leave a Reply