I can’t remember the last time I hit the dirt. It had been a while. The operative word in that last sentence is “had”.
It was a cold afternoon after a day from hell at work. We chose the gravel bikes – I love not worrying about traffic through the post-season. That, and 40° at 18-mph is way better than it is at 24.
I rolled over to Chuck’s at 5, taking my time about it. I wasn’t in a hurry. I was looking forward to lollygagging, actually.
My gravel bike, a low-end Specialized Diverge, would be uncomfortable if I used normal road tires on it. Alloy frames tend to be somewhat brutal. With 32-mm gravel tires at about 45 psi, the thing is surprisingly buttery and wonderful (once you get beyond the slow and heavy aspects) and fun to ride. Especially at the end of the season out with my buddy, Chuck. This is what I was thinking as we were making our way out and this is specifically why I have such a deep love of cycling. I went from one of the most brutal Mondays in memory to thinking about how comfortable my gravel bike is and how much fun I’m having.
So let’s get to the good part. We’re coming up a hill to a busy intersection and there’s traffic coming from the left but the lead car is turning left. Chuck jumps at the chance to get across, so I follow slightly behind. I got way over on the side of the road, because, gravel bike, as the car turned in behind us. He went by and I decided I should ride up on the grass a little bit. Again, because gravel bike. And that’s precisely when I looked up and saw the trenched out mud puddle right in front of me, no doubt made by a mail truck… I didn’t want to hit the puddle or get run over, so I tried a track stand in possibly the worst place in the entire world to try a track stand while the truck cleared. And my front wheel slid down the trench into the mud puddle and I went straight over sideways landing on my elbow, shoulder, knee and hip. My hip hurt quite a bit, taking the worst of it, and I hit my knee pretty hard, but other than that, I was okay. I also had to twist my left shifter back into place.
Thankfully, I missed most of the mud.
We had a chuckle at the silliness of the situation and rolled on. My main concern was to keep everything moving after a hit like that. Too slow and every part that hit the dirt seizes up and I didn’t want any of that. After a while, all of the mud cleared my tires and I rode up into a little more grass to clean them off the rest of the way.
The ride got a little fast after that. The sun was fading into the horizon pretty fast and with intermittent cloud cover, we didn’t have much light left. I’d been up front for miles and pulled over to let Chuck take a turn but he didn’t come around. He’s riding tonight and I’m skipping for my daughter’s senior night for swimming, so he’s going to need his legs. I stayed up front and took it to the barn.
It was only when I started peeling layers that I realized the extent of the damage. Hip was a little sore but okay, elbow was good. The knee, though, I’d skinned my knee up pretty good. A lot like every other Friday when I was a kid.
My wife had an awesome chicken pot pie waiting. I cleaned up and we sat down for supper. It didn’t last long.
Waking up this morning, though, I wasn’t near as spry as I once was. No real harm, though. Skinned knees and mud puddles. I slept like a baby last night. Not one thought about my crappy Monday. I’m sure today will be a lot better.