This is Beginners Page 9 ½. I had just about completed writing Beginners Page 10: Lessons Learned, when another lesson was learned. And as usual, the hard way.
Some time back we started riding the loop at the State Park on Wednesdays. There are some good hills and one tough hill called Pulliam or Wink Hill. One Wednesday, Liz Rappe joined us, and she had just started riding this year.
On the warm up part of the ride she did fine, and as we started on the hilly section she still did great. I was concerned that the tough hill might take her by surprise, so I hung back and was going to give her instructions on how to successfully climb the hill. (After all, I had written a piece about climbing hills so that made me an expert.)
As we sped down the last decline before the climb, I pointed out a specific place down the road and told her to shift into her small chain ring by that point and to be ready to pedal hard. I was by her side and was telling her as we approached the steep incline to think on each down stroke that she might have to unclip. I should have known better; I know I can’t talk and think at the same time. Just as I gave my last “instruction,” my bike stopped in mid-stroke. I only had time to yell out, “I forgot to shift!” I was in my big chain ring, and no way can I go up the hill at that gear.
I started to fall over. It must have been in slow motion because I kept watching to see if Liz was going to make it. As I was listing about 45 degrees, Liz was breezing up the hill. As I hit the ground, Liz was cresting the hill, and did it easily.
The picture my editor wanted me to use
The view I really saw
And I? On the ground hurting.
It was time to assess my damage. My left middle finger was cut and bleeding, my left knee was skinned and bleeding, and my right leg was bleeding where the chain ring dug into my leg. (For anyone who knows me well, no I didn’t faint). I carry a bandana to use as a sweat rag or as a tourniquet should the need arise in emergencies. I declared it an emergency and rapped the tourniquet around my finger to stop the bleeding.
It was time to get on up the hill and join the rest of the group and I wanted to do it quickly before they came back to see what happened and see me in my pitiful state. I straddled my bike and started pushing off but as I would put my foot on the pedal, nothing would happen, and I would start to roll back. I think Rick had told me one time that Pulliam Hill becomes a 9% grade at the top, and I had already talked one time about how scary it was to roll backwards on a hill, so I wanted no more of that. I looked down and my chain was off the rings. There must be a lesson in that—chain must be on ring to move. Either as I was falling I tried to shift, or when my handle bar hit the ground it tried to shift, anyway, my chain was popped.
I put the chain back on, but now my hands were greasy, and I had to use my tourniquet as a grease rag. After cleaning my hands, I wrapped my finger again with the now greasy rag and said to heck with it, I will just walk up the hill. (No one had come back to see what happened, so I could still manufacture my own story) But, after a few yards, my pride and ego kicked in and I tried again to mount the bike. This time I was able to start pedaling and finally made it up the hill.
As I limped into the turn around area, I did not get the “poor baby” nor “shall we call 911” that I thought I deserved. However, Christine did have some band aids in her saddle bag so she bandaged my boo boos. David noticed my bent left shifter knob and straightened it out. So I got some attention, and as soon as my bleeding abated, off we went toward the next adventure.
The “trainee” did an outstanding job; the “instructor” did every thing wrong that he was warning the other person about. Do as I say, not ever, ever as I do.
Listening to all my hard luck stories, Brenda White once compared me to Joe Btfsplk. Joe was a friend of Li’l Abner and was the worst jinx who always traveled with a dark cloud over his head.
Who was Li’l Abner? Ask your Mom or Dad. If you are really young, ask your Grandma or Grandpa.
P.S. I was busted. Turned out the event director of Biscuits and Gravy DID know about this site. She very nicely pointed out that the arrows directing riders onto the frontage road were for our safety. So I encourage all next year to follow the arrows. Do As I Say, Not As I Do.