Friday, September 20, 2013

Another Lesson

Yes, I rode today.

And . . .

I missed the rain again.

Most everyone who rides knows one of the most dangerous times to ride is just as it is beginning to rain. Another time is in the morning after a rain when the wet streets have had time to create new oil slicks. This is time that seems to get me. The front brake on Billie is really touchy. I have a bad habit of grabbing the front brake. These two things are not a good combination. This means I need to take care to use lots of  rear brake when I run into the conditions like I mentioned above - conditions like this morning. 

Today I had a mindless moment and locked up the front brake as I hit an oil slick. Reality let me know with the swiftness of a Sensei lashing his student across the arms with his bokken the folly of my being lost in my thoughts and out of my mind. Down I went. Fortunately I don't rely only on my riding abilities to keep me safe. I, also, choose routes where getting run over if I go down is very unlikely and I wear full gear. Once again I came away from my lesson only embarrassed and feeling foolish. 

One of the main reasons I ride is to practice mindfulness. On the ride home I was much more alert and aware of my surroundings. I received the lesson with gratitude and nothing but a slightly bruised left hip. Billie seems to be no worse for her riders folly.

By the way, I wonder how much gas gets "used" waiting in drive-thru's. Oh my, the monkey brain never stops.

  • 70F/21C with a very fine mist for the ride to work.
  • 70F/21C and overcast for the home ride.


  1. Glad you were not squished or hurt badly.

    Today in one local paper there was an article about the trend for under 30s (or so) not to wear bicycle helmets. And of course, it's dangerous not to. When we are hanging out there poorly matched for what could come at us (including pavement rising to our face) it's good to be prepared.

    1. Martha, someone the other day accused me of setting myself up to crash because I was wearing all my gear.

      It's funny of my friends who have been in accidents not a single one of them has said they wished they were wearing less gear.

      I was glad I had my gear on, and I don't think for a minute having the gear on had anything to do with me going down. That said, it did have a lot to do with me bouncing up and finishing my ride.

  2. Yikes, so glad you weren't hurt.

    One of the many reasons to be wearing all that good gear. Hopefully that hip heals quick.

    1. I was sure I was going to have a bruise on my hip, but I don't. Just a little sore. The gear did its job.

  3. Glad you wear not seriously hurt, but it does bring up a good point. Mindfulness is difficult at times, but we need to practice it. I know I tend to be more attentive at night than I am on my commute in during the afternoon. You think it be the opposite.

    1. Robert,
      I think there is something about feeling just a tinge of fear that heightens my attention. I usually have this edge in these conditions and, yes, riding at night out in the country. Mindfulness. Vigilance. Watchfulness. These are all words that approach the state I've been in on almost all of my most memorable rides.

      It is so easy to slip into "automatic pilot" even on two wheels.

      Yes, practice. Riding is a practice.

  4. Keith,

    Experiences like the one you describe become exceptional markers in our riding life and make us better riders. I was reading a post on a forum a few days ago where someone wrote that unfortunately experience is the best teacher. Your post reminds me of that fact.

    I've gone down in the snow in a similar manner and experienced the same foolish feeling and subsequent heightened awareness. Thanks for the reminder and I am glad the cost to you was minimal.

    Ride safe!

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

    1. Steve,
      I've noticed a shift over the years. Early on I guess I didn't know what I could have done differently and blamed things other than "operator error" for my near and real mishaps. Not so much anymore. Yes, the conditions were treacherous, but I've rode in worse. I needed to be taught the cost of riding mindlessly once again. I suspect I will encounter this lesson again and only hope it is as painless.

      Yes, our skill comes from practice and experience.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I've be grateful you've been blogging more of late. Good stuff.

  5. Keith, you are made of stern stuff!

    I went down last fall in the rain, kind of a similar thing.

    I thought the brakes were sluggish because they were wet, kept squeezing to get to the right feeling of deceleration. I had squeezed so hard I locked up both wheels and went down in a heartbeat. I ended up with a slightly bruised left knee.

    Lesson learned, like you. I have to say the rest of the ride home was, shall we say, a little slow, and very tense. Not fun.

    If that was your first 'off', welcome to the club. The entrance fees are stiff.

    All the best,


    1. Nope not my first "off". I've even done it is similar conditions. I guess I'm a slow learner. I've been fortunate to come out of all my "off's" pretty injury free. I would be happy if this were my last.

      I hope yours was your last!

      Be safe.