Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My New Favorite Crash Euphemism

"Yard sale."

The bike's in the ditch, a water bottle shot off that way, your frame pump's planted in the dirt like a flag, one glove's hanging from a bush, and how exactly did the front wheel end up way the heck over there?

In short, your stuff is spread out all over the place. Hence, "yard sale."

I'd love to take credit for this one, but I picked it up from Willy Porter during his concert last Saturday night in Ames, as he was leading into the tune Loose Gravel.

There are clips of Willy's music on his site -- if they sound like your kind of thing and he comes near your town, definitely check him out. The live experience (especially in a small room) is beyond description.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Your Hat is Blinking"

Yes, another witty Des Moines smoker camped on a downtown street corner has added her astute two cents' worth regarding my commute gear.

Y'see, my beater helmet wears a Planet Bike flasher up top, so in fact, my hat was blinking at the time. As was my butt, though she made no comment about that end, at least within my earshot.

I think she was trying to make fun of me, but I laughed all the way home.

As an aside, does anyone else notice that it's the smokers -- people standing outside in the dead of winter, usually without coats, indulging a life-shortening addiction -- that look at cycle commuters with the most intense mixture of pity, derision, and flat out "that guy must be psychotic" awe?

Maybe they're just the only people who regularly stand outside in the winter...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Owed to Carla on Valentine's Day

Sure, it's a stupid holiday, crafted in some secret Hallmark lair just to make schlubs like me sneak out to the local Walgreens and drop three bucks on a nickel's worth of paper dripping with faux sentimentality most likely written by an underpaid MFA who's spent the last decade telling his friends he's "still working on that novel."

But, back in my Limpstrong '07 report, I did promise that my wife deserved an entire post all to herself (she does), and with sentimentality on the brain, now seems like the time. Bikey folks who are about to surf away, take heart -- there will be some grisly cycle-crash reporting along the route.

(For those scratching their heads over the title, it's an inside family joke. She'll get it.)

I can't say that I really remember exactly what was said before I left on my May 4, 2007 ride -- who remembers the tiny pre-ride details when the season's in stride? You just go through the routine and pedal away. But knowing my wife, I think it went like this:

Carla: "Keep the rubber side down."
Jason: "I always do."

Except of course, on May 4, 2007, I didn't. A patch of mud, wheels going sideways, hard impact on the right hip, and like that, I'm sprawled out on a trail, one leg turned 90 degrees in a direction it's not designed to turn. Later, I'll learn that it's called a spiral fracture of the femur: a crack that starts at the impact point and propagates down the bone in (logically enough) a spiral. But lying there, all I can think (between expletives) is, "Can I still reach my cell phone?

(This is "Carla Thank You #1", since she was the one who forced my Luddite butt to get a cell phone in the first place. You were right, dear.)

Anyway, 911 operator, more expletives, paramedics, more expletives, yadda yadda yadda. And that's when Carla got the call that focused a magnifying glass on all the fine print under "til death do us part."

Here are just a few of the indignities my dear spouse would have to endure over the next few months, all because of that one moment where the rubber side was most definitely not down:
  • Arriving at the emergency room in time to see that leg aimed in the wrong direction. By that point, I was doped silly on a wonderful morphine/Valium cocktail, so the "legs akimbo" look was almost entertaining to me. Not so for drug-free Carla. But she didn't flinch, didn't get queasy, didn't even break stride -- just hit the cell phone and ran the numbers of friends, family, and co-workers. A first-rate first responder.
  • Practically living in the hospital with me for a week. Ever camp out in a medical extended-stay for a loved one? Then 'nuff said.
  • Navigating the bureaucracy of the Family Medical Leave Act. We have a two-story house. The bathroom and bedroom are on one floor. The food's on the other. Without a live-in spouse, I don't want to think which one of those biological necessities I would have been forced to give up.
  • And speaking of food: the coffee is on the floor with the food. Anyone who doesn't drink coffee yet is willing to make it every morning for an addict who can't get himself out of bed and can't sleep past 5 a.m. due to his self-inflicted pain deserves sainthood.
  • But it's not like she was sleeping anyway. Lying in bed next to someone who wakes up swearing every four hours when his Vicodin wears off? Not restful.
  • Playing nurse... and not in the good way. Think you love your significant other? Try cleaning up a gaping wound that's held together with 13 (count 'em!) staples multiple times a day. And then stick a needle of life-or-death blood thinner into that spouse's belly fat once a day for a week. Words fail me, which is saying something.
  • Dealing with a 200-pound infant. Let's see... he can't walk or bathe himself, and he's perpetually grumpy. Yeah, this sounds like a party.
  • Did I mention grumpy? Let's call it like it was: For much of this recovery, I was, without question, pissed off. Guess who took the brunt of it?
I could go on, but I think you get my drift.

We have a running joke in our family. Whenever I have one of those, "Wait a minute... that's not in the marriage brochure!" moments, the response is, "Oh, it's in the ketubah. You just can't read the Hebrew part." Well, ten years after we inked that deal, my wife showed me what it really meant, in any language.

Happy Valentine's Day to my beloved, my friend. And here's to a less-eventful 2008!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sheldon Brown, 1944-2008

American cyclists lost our Velocio this week.

If you ride a bicycle and don't know the work of Sheldon Brown, stop wasting your time on my blog and visit the
Harris Cyclery site instead.

My dad taught me how to ride a bicycle.
Sheldon taught me how to be a cyclist.

Tailwinds, Captain Bike. You will be missed.