Last night was a ride like many others. We finally had a shift in the wind so it actually finally helped on the return trip for once. This obviously makes the first half a little rough but hey, you can’t have it all, right?
We did our easy eight mile warmup at around 32 minutes, give or take, and waited for the start. It was the first Tuesday of the year where knee warmers weren’t required (I still went with arm warmers but about half the group skipped them). We rolled out as normal, promptly at 6. Rather than start at the front as I normally do, I opted for the back. We were dead into the wind and I figured that early, if anything broke down, I could jump any gap if I had to. The first nine miles were tough but uneventful. I took my turns up front but kept them pretty short.
We were closing in on ten miles and I was behind my BCB (Best Cycling Bud) Mike. I was feeling good and we were about 25 mph into a decent wind. All of a sudden, he sat up and before I knew what was going on, the group was up the road – no chance I was making that up. I resigned to the fact that it simply wasn’t Mike’s night so he and Big Joe (who had been behind me) set about rolling into the wind.
Joe pulled for a slow mile which was kind of nice because I was able to catch my breath a little bit. I took over next and started running the speed up a little bit and before long we were up to a respectable 20 mph.
Hitting the first set of hills, we came on a friend of ours, Carla, and her son. We were closing on them but it looked like, from where we were, they were trying to hold us off. I looked down for a minute and when I looked back up she was falling in behind her son and nicked his rear wheel. She went down instantly. There was a dull THWACK… Her helmet hit the pavement and we could hear it 50 yards away. As we approached, she was dusting herself off and her son was in tears thinking he’d just hurt his mom. Fortunately, other than a scraped elbow and knee, she was fine.
Had she not been wearing a cycling helmet, her husband would have been A) Making preparations for her funeral or B) Getting ready to change her diapers for the rest of her life or C) Wondering when she would come out of her coma they’d induced to fight her brain swelling… Now, there is a slim chance that she’d have walked away unscathed after bouncing her melon on the pavement but ask a trained professional what her odds would be of that – I have, and they’re slim to none, but don’t take my word for it.
In any event, after she waved us on, we crested the first of the hills and started our journey East, with a blessed tailwind. We met a few others at our “B” group meeting spot, formed up and crushed out the remaining ten miles in decent fashion.
While I’m sure I’ll catch some blowback over my view of wearing a helmet – there are those out there who stubbornly hold onto the notion that a helmet can do more harm than good (of course, these are all people who haven’t bounced their head off the pavement) but I don’t care. Our group has very few rules, maybe two total, but one of them is a helmet is required at all times, no excuses. We stick to it, no matter what. This is yet another example of why we do. You never know when you’re going to stop your bike with your melon.