Nov 15, 2009

i was the tool can

until i started cycling, i had never heard of people being referred to as tool cans.  i don’t know if it’s part of a universal cycling lexicon, or if it’s just a regional thing or just a weird louisville thing. god knows there’s a bunch of weird louisville cycling things, so that could be the case.

i actually just did the google for cycling slang and came up with the roadie slang dictionary only to find that ‘tool can’ is not even on the list, so maybe it’s just a weird thing in our house. god knows there’s a lotta weird stuff in our house too.

my husband would come home from rides muttering about some tool can out there who didn’t know how to ride in a paceline and jacked everything up. he made up a joke about being at the start line of a race and looking around for the tool can – if you can’t find him, then its you.

so when i started riding two years ago, i really wanted to know all the cycling etiquette so i wasn’t a tool can. i didn’t want to be ‘that’ girl . the one riding out by the double yellow lines instead of in the paceline, the one who couldn’t hold her line.

but most of all, i didn’t want to be the girl who crashed out herself or  worse – a bunch of other folks all riding in a nice neat little paceline. 

being the tool can who crashed everyone out was probably my second worst fear after actually crashing.

today? today i killed two birds with one stone.

my first thought as i went over the weirdly awkward railroad tracks and i saw my wheel get caught in the groove and the next thing i know i was lying on the pavement was:

wow. that whole crashing on your bike thing happens fast. too fast to even be scared about crashing your bike.

my second thought as i lay on my right side in the road over those damn tracks was: that’s my teammate flying over me.

and my third thought was: shit. i think that was my fault which would mean that in addition to just having my first crash, i was also the tool can that took other people out.

two birds. one railroad track. truth be told, three birds went down.

it was a nice little winter team training ride of 6 folks. the ride and route were both my idea. we were all chatting. having a lovely ol’ time of getting in some leisurely base miles. there were a whole bunch of tracks on the route – all of which if you just kept going straight over them, you hit them just fine & pretty much perpendicularly dandy.

but this one set of tracks was a little odd, a little off camber-y, old and rutted up a bit. and in the nano-second between crossing the first track and the second, i thought i needed to adjust my perpendicular-ness and then in another nano-second i was lying on the pavement watching a teammate fly over me.

i saw my wheel get sucked up in the track. and my husband said “you were looking at your wheel?” yes. and of course i wonder if  maybe i wasn’t looking at my wheel and instead looking ahead at where i wanted to go – instead of where i didn’t - cause i sure as shit didn’t want to go down on that track; that maybe my teammate wouldn’t have taken a flyer over me & separated his shoulder and another wouldn’t have gone down and gotten a flat and i wouldn’t have had to get eight stitches and have my calf run over.

since i started riding, crashing has been my biggest fear. it’s done. and and on one hand, i am weirdly happy that i got it over with. i’m only sorry that there were others involved.

i have crasher’s guilt and wish i had gotten the worst injury, not my teammate.

here’s what i learned:

  • don’t change your mind in a nano-second. just look where you want to go, and assuming you don’t want to go down on railroad tracks, just keep going.
  • crashes really do happen way too fast to be scary. one minute you’re riding your bike and the next minute you’re not.
  • the adrenaline will ward off any crying fits that you imagine you’ll have when you first crash.
  • teammates & friends are the best thing to have around when you crash.
  • the G3 iphone google map thingy with the blinky “you are here” blue dot is an awesome feature for when you have to call folks to come get you when you don’t even know where you are.
  • wine helps.
  • so does ice.