Monday, January 27, 2014

A Tough Crowd

The temperature at the start of Sunday's Giro was in the low 40s, but the 90+ percent humidity made it feel colder. I heard the nastier weather on the previous morning had kept attendance to seven. About 30 showed up Sunday. The mostly uneventful ride out to Venetian Isles was at a seasonally appropriate pace with little, if any, surging.

The hardest part of the ride was the headlong dash off of Chef Hwy and up the service road, which caught more than a few riders dillydallying a bit too long between the Chevron station and I-510. I was fortunate enough to see the lead riders weren't going to slow into the service road, picked the right wheel to sit on coming out of the turn, and then hung on as Brian B. (not MD) doggedly pulled us up to the handful of riders who had sprinted off of Chef.

Heading north on Bullard, red lights1 at I-10 and the service road spread the group out over a couple of blocks. As we approached Hayne, a little knot of cyclists was in the middle of the road and it was obvious there had been a crash. I could see the OWNHB face down and motionless on the pavement. Two of the locals who often are seen socializing in the apartment complex parking lot were in the street recounting what they had seen. "He was out of control," said one. "He was going pretty fast," said the other. "What happened to his handlebars?" asked the first.

Matt and someone else tried to help him to his feet. "Noooooo. Don't touch me. I have broken bones," declared the OWNHB. Brian B. MD was attending the patient, presumably doing the old oriented-times-three test. "Do you know your name?" "Do you know what day it is?" "Do you know your bike has no handlebars?" Eventually, Brian B. MD was satisfied EMTs and ambulances were unnecessary. VJ offered to go get the barless one's van.

The Giro regulars can be a tough crowd, and somewhat merciless. Once it was determined the OWNHB was not headed directly to the hospital but was merely dazed and bloodied, the goofing commenced: As the injured cyclist stood gathering himself at the curb, Matt put the handlebarless bike in a nearby garbage can and Rich assumed the Deliverance-squeal-like-a-pig stance behind the bent-over, moaning cyclist. The two locals, one obviously dressed for church, were aghast with disbelief at the scene playing out before them.

As he started to slowly, unsteadily walk in small circles in the street, the OWNHB shakily said, "My hands got cold and came off my handlebars."Soon he decided he could ride in and a couple of riders stayed with him as an escort.

The group rode in at a conversational pace. Later I heard the OWNHB was sore but okay.

 = =
1. It was interesting to see one of the young orangemen (Daniel, I think) loudly expressing his  understandable frustration, on Hayne going out and again on Bullard coming in, at the pack's dangerous and illegal disregard of red lights. Orange One, your youthful idealism is admirable, but I have been there in the past and achieved nothing beyond self-inflicted hypertensive stress. I encourage you to continue in your worthy undertaking, but, unfortunately, I do not think this behavior will change until 1) someone gets flattened in the road; 2) the police start dishing out tickets as they do routinely in civilized areas of the country; 3) we scare, inconvenience, or piss off the wrong politician or political contributor and the ride gets shut down (as group rides have in other cities).

2. When the OWNHB made this statement I began wondering about the efficacy of Brian B. MD's orientation assessment. I am not sure how to describe the thing protruding forward from the stem of the OWNHB's machine, but I'm certain handlebars is just wrong. Or perhaps the OWNHB's strange declaration was not concussive befuddlement,  but rather evidences a basic misunderstanding of what handlebars are, which would explain his responding with a blank stare to my countless suggestions to him in the past that he consider buying handlebars for his bike.

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