Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rider in coma, bike basically fine

Today I'm doing a post-crash assessment on a road bike. The rider is out of the hospital now, but the first reports sounded very serious. I hear he looks pretty rough.

We first heard about the accident about a month ago.Maybe it's been longer, but in the autumn, certainly. The rider's wife told us they had been on a ride in Maine. He had crested a hill ahead of her and launched into the descent. When she crossed the summit and started down she saw a group of other riders gathered around the fallen form of someone she did not recognize until she got closer. He was unconscious.

None of the riders saw the crash. No one saw a motor vehicle near the time it happened. As is often the case with head injuries, the rider himself does not remember what happened.

Looking at the bike I can guess, but that's all. Based on the scuff marks I envision an endo after hitting a pothole or other pavement damage. The injuries to the rider combined with the lack of damage to the bike indicate to me that he took the major impact. The saddle is bent but not scuffed, so I think he was still between it and the pavement when it hit. The right brifter was twisted inward. Both brifters had scuff marks on the front of them. The rear derailleur hanger was bent in, but the scuff marks on the derailleur did not show a lot of sliding movement. There was no damage to either pedal. The wheels are barely out of true, although the front tire bead was crawling off the rim in one spot. The rims have no dents or flat spots. The tires look perfectly usable. They're both holding 100+ psi right now. There's no indication of skidding.

I hate not knowing. All any rider can do is pay attention. I've twitched the bike at speed to avoid bad pavement more than once. If I had been distracted I could have joined the ranks of the mystery crashers. But in the end we really don't know how this guy went down.

Let's all be careful out there.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hall decking

"Are you guys all caught up?" Beth asked as she came into the shop on Friday morning. It's the kind of imprecise question that often precedes a job assignment one of us would not have come up with for ourselves. When Beth is making the assignment it often reminds me of a girl interrupting a great greasy game a bunch of boys are playing to get someone to play house.

Big G was safely elbows-deep in a bunch of preseason base waxing for some of the local racer kids, so I got pulled into Beth's project, decorating the shop Christmas tree. I tried to make a stand and say we shouldn't decorate before the Friday after Thanksgiving, but she wouldn't hear it. Besides, no one will come in on Thursday night to do it.

She should know better than to leave me unsupervised. Something about the configuration of one of the ornaments, a snowman holding snowflakes on a black wire in front of himself, suggested something more sinister. I wonder how long it will take anyone to spot it.

It's the little things that help the day go by.

Later I discovered I could record sounds on my phone and use them as my ring tone. For the rest of the day it belched. Now it meows. A whole new world beckons. The problem is that even I don't recognize it as a phone call at first. I also pissed the cats off by following them around all day trying to get the perfect meow. I still haven't gotten the one I want. When they meow they want you to answer, not shove a phone down by them and wait silently for them to do it again.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

I'd rather be drawing (or writing)

Steve A's pensive post on DFW Point to Point this morning got me thinking about all that goes into running a civilized country with a citizen-involved government. Not that it's hard to get me going in that direction. It's been my preoccupation for my entire adult life.

When I'm not a surly bike mechanic and sport shop grunt I draw cartoons. Whatever hopes I had for a livelihood in that realm have largely faded, but many influential creators have lived in relative poverty and obscurity. If you want something drawn or written, you have to sit down and do it. All the rest of the crap, the day job, the chores, are just what you do to clear the path to the desk and buy some time to sit at it.

The bike business lets me work in an area where any gains are good. If everyone rode a bike the world would simply be a better place. That's not to say the bike industry is the best judge of what will promote all the best aspects of the activity. Far from it. But someone has to interpret the crap for customers and help them keep their machines in good working order. I don't mind putting in some time there. issues.
There's no shortage of them.
He's not getting any better. Should we put on another leech?

I'm sorry, but due to the state of the economy I'm going to have to let you go.
And so on.

I post them at The Back of Class. It may go weeks or months without an update. Then I might have a good few days and dump a bunch in all at once.

Chillin' on the bike

An icy wind blew the brown leaves around as I loaded my bike for the morning commute. My tendency to overdress had finally coincided nearly perfectly with the plunging temperature.

It was 27 degrees -- that's -2.7 for you Celsius types.

The dirt road from my parking spot drops almost continuously for a mile. It is now well-packed. At 27 degrees it was also solidly frozen. I've hit 30 mph on that section, but cold air must really be more dense than warm air, because I can't seem to crack 27 mph anymore. I might be sitting up more because my eyes are tearing so badly from the cold air that I can't see where I'm going. Knocking off three miles per hour will definitely soften the blow if I hit a tree, right?

The big difference since last week is the total darkness on the evening ride. The snow held off for me, so I wasn't riding in whiteout squalls, but the north wind still played hard. It gave my clothing another test as the temperature dropped from its afternoon high of around 33 down toward the upper 20s again. The route back out to my car is a long, gradual climb of more than seven miles. The few little declines are offset by the steady grade up the last mile.

Miniature surf crashed on the rocks of the long causeway beside Lake Wentworth. I chased the patch of light from my headlight through the darkness. Leaving the windswept lake I reentered the forest. Leaves swirled in the puffs of wind.

Last week I almost hit a deer on the path during the evening ride. I spotted the one to my right and remembered that they seldom travel alone. I saw the one coming across from my left just in time to lock up the brakes. The deer stared into my headlight.

"Sorry," I called. The deer looked at me strangely, like an apology was the last thing it ever expected to hear from a human being. It ambled on across the path to follow its companion into the darkness.

On another evening, or perhaps the same one, I spotted the mysterious Dusk Walker at the far limit of my headlight. This tall, gaunt man walks on the path in the evenings. He never seems too pleased to be disturbed, even by a polite cyclist who always slows down and says good evening. Now that the darkness has fully settled in my light announces my approach. Its power surprises people. I saw Dusk Walker looking at the growing light around him while he was still 100 feet or more ahead of me.

Once the snow comes I will have to park somewhere else if I can find a place at all from which to launch a ride. More likely I will park closer to town and ski the remaining distance on the days it suits the schedule. It's all the skiing I'm likely to get, but that's absolutely fine. I love it when a mode of transportation that most people consider recreational turns out to be practical. It's a matter of attitude.