Roads hold hidden danger

Friday, May 13, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:50 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Today’s story is about how biking almost killed me. Although it’s an exaggeration to say that I looked death in the eye, the week of biking has started to take its toll on me.

The effects from previous days are becoming a little more apparent: a sore posterior, weary legs and an achy lower back.

It’s surprising how the biking has quickly worked its way into my daily routine and introduced some new habits. Every night is the same drill. I refill the water bottle and stick it in the freezer. I check the tires and make sure to put air in them if necessary. Due to the rain adventure on Wednesday, I now take a dry change of clothes with me and stick everything in plastic garbage bags before putting it in my backpack.

I’ve also learned that when you’re on the bike you have to be alert and observant, whether you embody those characteristics or not.

Every imperfection in the road has the potential to launch you from your bike. Today, I was riding down Business Loop 70 West and a portion of the black pavement didn’t merge smoothly into the concrete of the curb. A jagged ledge was formed and this obstacle suddenly appeared in front of me as I rode on the edge of the road just off the curb. I hit it at about 15 mph. My front tire skidded to the left as my back tire swung to the right. I swerved sharply into the car lane and scraped my left ankle as my foot slipped off the pedal. I recovered only after two seconds of sheer panic.

Earlier on College Avenue, something similar had happened. I had decided to stick to the sidewalk since the narrow lanes of College don’t leave much room or cars and bikers. The sidewalk wasn’t much better. A portion of it in front of Walt’s Service Inc. had sunk, creating a giant pot hole. I might have avoided it had there not been a bush in desperate need of some trimming covering it.

The treachery of the roads isn’t all that keeps you alert. Drivers have been respectful out there, but let’s be honest: They don’t always pay attention. It’s my responsibility to keep myself safe from those four-wheeled monsters. I can’t always tell if they see me or not.

The inconveniences of just relying on a bike are starting to get to me, but at the end of the day I appreciate the chance to rest more. Food tastes better and I always sleep like a baby.

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