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.


Stuart said...

Ouch! But I can testify for the adrenaline thing..and the ice...and the wine; well beer!

Hope you mend well and don't worry guys dig scars!

Groover said...

Sorry to hear, Zanne. Hope you and your team mates and your bruised self-esteem will recover soon. As for the guilt: I'm sure your team mate will now that that's bike riding. There are only two types of riders, those that crashed and those that will. Heal up and get back on.

ItchyBits said...

Enjoyed your post even though it was about crashing - crashing stinks! Weirdest sensation ever. Hard to remember where your body went. Love the Tool Can name - ha! - must be regional as not used around here... until now. I don't think you qualify in this case. Also love your husband's little ditty about the starting line. Heal quick girlie and send your buddies some homemade cookies and they'll forgive you ;) - I would.

Judi said...

oh girl, i am so sorry!! heal up!! i do not like groover's comment though! i am SCARED to death of crashing! maybe road racing is too freakin' SCARY!!

i hope you are feeling better soon.

XXOO - glad you and the other 2 friends are ok. coulda been worse.

Cindy said...

yowza, that sounds painful. another reason why i'll stick to running- i can only hurt myself so much from tripping.
yeah, let's hear it for the blue orb-y blinky thing on the iphone!

bsegal said...

its funny but getting a crash over with is a good thing. I hope the other injuries are short lived as well. I've crashed on a team ride before and understand the guilt you feel even tho its obviously not what you meant to have happen.
go with the wine...oh, and while you're stitched up and Stevens in the sling, dont try and talk anybody into taking up cycling.
feel better.

zanne said...

oh Judi - Groover's right about the 2 camps of cyclists, those that have crashed & those that haven't (yet). I had always heard those same sorts of sayings - It's not a matter of "if" you're going to crash, it's "when".

I was SUPER scared of that inevitable first crash too, and I know that fear held me back a whole bunch - but it really does happen too damn fast to even be scared. I was lucky in this one too - walked away with just the need for some stitches and a lot of soreness & bruising. It could definitely have been worse for all of us. Although my poor teammate needs surgery - but my husband says next time it'll be me that takes a flyer over someone & breaks something. But honestly, I've always heard its just part of the sport - it's gonna happen. I'm relieved to have gotten that first one out of the way & I'm gonna have a sweet scar on my elbow if all the old lady wrinkles don't hide it!

And girl - this wasn't even a race. It was a super easy, super slow training ride. I think in a race, you're more hyper-aware ... we were all just chatting, having a good ol time & had crossed so many damn tracks, we didn't give this particular set much thought - till it was too late!

Thanks all for the well wishes!

Betty - yeah, tool can is a great word. Am sure you can find much use for it in Jersey! And I did indeed deliver some soup, cookies & beer to fallen teammate!

Love that blinky blue dot Cindy!

zanne said...

thanks segal - it is sort of a weirdly nice relief to have that over with!

pamster said...

Soooooo sorry that happened. Glad you are OK and your teammie will be as well. Even though it's not funny, your blog still makes me laugh. Heal quickly.

DrJohnM said...

This is a great read. As most know, I have had made peace with crashing. My teammates have taught me to yell "go bike" when in doubt.

Heal fast.

Go bike!

Logan said...

You're the toughest rider on the team Suzanne! The cookies and Guinness were awesome (I never imagined what a great combo that could be!). Enjoy the beach and park the's a useless and destructive emotion :-)

Joe Biker said...

good stuff. Tool Can. Ha. Glad you're okay...but,how's the bike. That's always my first thought after I peel myself off the ground.

zencycle said...

I wouldn't worry too much about it. If it was just one of those 'inexperienced cyclist not paying attention on a group ride' things, well, that's gonna happen. If you were trying to ride at the front of a pro/1/2/3 crit as a newly minted cat 3, you probably would have been subjected to a bit more humiliation.

I've been racing since '86, never heard the term 'tool can'. Must be a regional thing. We just call them 'dork'.

Anonymous said...

wow, just catching up with you - sorry you got hurt. i hope everything is better by now... ?