Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ow. My pride.

I have no idea how or why it happened. About 10:30 or so last night, I was just about to turn left into the parking lot of my apartment building. It was dark, it was cold, it was really damp out. There was a car coming out of the lot, with no turning signals on. So I stopped, unsure of which way they were going to turn. Then noticed an SUV coming along the street toward me. I stopped in the middle of the street, near the centre lane, to let them pass, tried to think who, in this conglomeration, had the right of way, and then, for some reason unknown to me, I fell as I was coming to a stop. Maybe I was trying to put my feet down and the heavy boots I was wearing caught the pedal? Maybe there was some ice underfoot, or under my tires? I don't know. Maybe I was tired (I was) and it was windy and wet and cold (it was.) Maybe my really quite extraordinarily bad balance had finally caught up with me. I don't know. My feet tangled with my bike, it slipped, and I fell over.

Quite aside from the embarassment, it is frankly terrifying to fall down in the middle of a street. With two cars pointed at you (the driver coming up the street had stopped, seeing me stopping at the centre line to try and turn.) And then the driver of another car, behind the SUV, decided that the stopped SUV was an obstacle, and pulled out to pass him - whether or not he was aware of the cyclist trying to pick herself up in the middle of the road I'm not sure. I scrambled to my feet, freaked out by the accelerating car that was passing the guy who'd stopped for me (how was I supposed to know if he'd even see me as he was getting back into his lane?) and got myself and the bike off the street as fast as I could. The SUV honked. At me? At the car who'd endangered my life by pulling out to pass? Not sure. And then the car that had been waiting to get out of the parking lot honked. At me? At the SUV, for honking? At the jerk who'd endangered my life? I choose to believe that the other two drivers were honking at the jackass who hadn't noticed the fallen cyclist. It makes the whole thing a lot less nervewracking, in hindsight.

And now I just have to nurse a bruised knee and some seriously dented pride. I haven't fallen on my bike in years. I don't know why or how I did last night. But I do know that cyclists can fall, unexpectedy. If there was ever a convincing argument for the 3-foot law, that's it. The bike you're passing may look fine. But she might hit a pothole, or a chunk of snow, or a puddle that splashes up into her eyes, or a rough patch in the road, or something. Or she might be at a full stop, waiting to turn left, and suddenly have some sort of brainfart.

Not sure which hurts more - the bruise on my knee or the one on my dignity. 


  1. I have fallen FOUR times this winter while commuting. That is for sure a record, always on intersections that were not properly cleared and where everyone is stopping and therefore making ice.

    don't feel bad! It is embarrassing but the more you cycling the more likely you are to fall! doesn't normally make sense, but this is OTTAWA in the WINTER

  2. The Japanese have a saying: "Fall seven times, stand up eight."

    Kanata cyclist Peter McNichol also once pointed out that if a car honks at you, it's proof that they see you.

  3. I'd be willing to bet there was some ice under your front tire... speaking of ice, make sure to ice your knee if you haven't already!

    To me, it sounds like the two vehicles were honking at the "jackass"!

  4. Ha, nobody was around when I last fell (3 weeks ago?). Pulled out of the garage (steep driveway up), stopped at the top to turn on the helmetcam/GPS, there was a lot of snow, clipped in my left foot, committed to going and... fell right over onto the clipped side into a snowbank. I laughed at myself.

    Hope your leg is ok. And I'm sure they were all just honking at each other.