Friday, September 01, 2006

First day

Well, I am sitting in front of my computer at home instead of at work. Now, home is work again.

My last day at work ended up being much more eventful than planned. There was the expected rush of last minute instructions, dispensing of files, and forwarding of e-mail messages to those taking over my responsibilities. There were the bittersweet goodbyes and touching notes from colleagues. There was the liberating dumping of files into the shredding bins. There was the ever-present sense just below the surface that I was leaving (again) a company I'd been associated with for eleven years.

But added to the emotional mix were the physical reminders of a body that had been in a bicycle crash that morning on the way to work, which added another surreal dimension to the day.

I was over half way to work. I had just crossed the railroad tracks when I saw an unleashed dog to my right on the sidewalk. The dog saw me and decided I was a good target for a chase. The dog was so close that there was no way I could outride it. I had slowed down to cross the tracks so tried to speed up, but I had no chance. The dog ran straight in to my bike and knocked me over. There were vehicles behind me, but they had also slowed down for the tracks. I know a motorcycle rode around me, but I don't remember anything else.

The dog was hit pretty hard, too, and ran back down the cross street into a nearby yard. I got up and pushed my bike to the sidewalk. My stainless steel water bottle was lying in the road so I picked up that, too. (It now has more dents.)

I didn't seem to be very injured. Some scrapes and bumps, but nothing major. My glasses were slightly bent, so I knew it would have been much worse if I hadn't been wearing a helmet.

The bike seemed to be in pretty good shape, except the handlebars were askew. I think having the pannier stuffed with my work clothes, shoes, and toiletries helped cushion the bike. The wheels weren't bent but the handlebars were in a right-hand turn position relative to the front wheel. I tried unscrewing a sunken bolt thinking that would allow me to straighten out the handlebars, but I couldn't loosen it.

Once I got the chain back on, the bike seemed to ride fine and the brakes worked. So I tried riding with the askew handlebars. If I didn't think about the position of my hands but concentrated on the feel and direction of the wheels, I could ride fine. So I rode the rest of the way to work with my handlebars in a perpetual right-hand turn position even though I was riding straight ahead. I was extra careful when making actual turns.

I got to work on time. Later in the morning, I asked one of my colleagues to help me with my bicycle. It was parked in the type of bike rack that has slots for the front wheel so that the bike is held upright by the front wheel. He merely torqued the handlebars into position—no loosening of bolts required.

So I learned yet something else about the mechanics of bicycles. There is enough give in the handlebar stem so that the handlebars can be adjusted relative to the frame by holding the frame straight and moving the handlebars.

In the afternoon, my colleagues gave me a delicious farewell cake. I logged off my computer, turned in my ID badge, changed into my riding clothes, and headed to some friends' house for a celebratory dinner.

They live in Sierra Madre, about 12.5 miles from work. It was nice route, with a very steep climb at the end. I took a bath and enjoyed a delicious dinner of fish, grilled vegetables, homemade bread, and fruit, along with good conversation.

By then the soreness from my crash earlier and from riding with the handlebars askew was beginning to manifest itself, so when my friends offered to drive me home, I accepted. It would have been a beautiful night ride home, but I thought I better not push it.

I slept pretty well. This morning I inventoried my scrapes, bumps, and bruises. I'm sore, but it will go away in a day or two. I'm grateful that I wasn't hurt worse and that the bicycle is fine. I hope the dog was frightened enough not to chase bicycles again.

So, now on to the rest of the day's agenda.

No comments: