Not Going Quite As Planned

It happened because I was feeling rushed. I had been working in the studio by myself, and wanted to wrap up all the loose ends and leave everything tidy. There were a couple of last emails to send out, and I was about five minutes late leaving for the ferry. Since it is a twenty-minute ride, I would have to make a bit of an effort to get there on time. For a moment I thought about setting off in the other direction to catch BART, which would have got me home quicker, with more turn-around time before my student group, but it was a nice afternoon and I relished the challenge.

The studio is a few blocks from the Park St bridge to Alameda, which has a one-way system on the Oakland side that is definitely not bike friendly. Not so long ago I had made it across that and was heading for the sidewalk of the bridge (because the latticed ironwork lanes of the bridge are too treacherous for narrow tyres, without even factoring in the speeding traffic) when I pinch-flatted both tyres on my bike hitting a big crack in the road, something that I have never done, nor heard of anyone else doing. This time, since I had missed the traffic light that gets me across to that side, I was rolling along the near sidewalk looking at the three lanes of oncoming traffic to see if there would be a gap that would allow me to cross over (which would save me waiting at the light on the far side of the bridge – that was the rushing part).

The next thing I knew I went straight over the handlebars and landed in a heap on the pavement. While watching the traffic I hadn’t noticed that I had strayed from the sidewalk to the edge of an open parking area between two businesses, and my front wheel had hit a concrete kerb block straight on.

A couple approaching in a car stopped and asked if I was alright, as it had looked like a bad fall to them. “I think so,” I said. I felt a bit dazed, but nothing hurt too much. My right wrist was sore, though I had no idea whether I had landed on it, and certainly did not remember putting it out to stop the fall, but I flexed all the fingers without real difficulty. I got up a little stiffly, and discovered that I couldn’t ride my bike, which I fully intended to do, though I had figured that I would definitely not make it to the ferry, so would have to go to BART after all: the front forks had been bent back so that the wheel was pushed against the frame. I deflated the tyre, which at least allowed me to steer the bike, but it didn’t feel safe to get on it. 

My bike shoes have been getting old and are not so good for walking in, so even though I was sore in a few spots, and could feel some grazing on my chin (someone passing by confirmed I was not bleeding there), what was getting to me most was feeling my heels starting to blister in my shoes. 

As I sat on the train I wrote to the group canceling the meeting, though I still felt like I ought to perhaps soldier on – it was a lack of turn-around time that I was most concerned about, but I also didn’t think I would be at my sharpest for conversation. From BART I had to wait for a bus to get me and the bike within a couple of blocks of my place. Mostly I was glad to get my shoes off – I put on a different pair and headed straight out again to get some strapping bandages and ibuprofen, since my medicine cabinet is skimpy at the best of times.

I happened to run into Abbot David on the street, and he sympathised, and asked about the rash on my left arm – oh, that’s the remnants of the poison oak from Humboldt (I had brushed against one stray stalk on the hike, and it had been irritating since).

After two nights of not sleeping well because of the fireworks, I had another two nights of not sleeping well from the throbbing wrist (and some straggler midnight fireworks as well). Generally I was feeling pretty slow, though luckily I could rest a lot to take care of myself – and try to follow the unfolding developments both in the Tour de France and the House of Commons (a fair amount of carnage in both places). With my city bike unrideable, and no grip strength in my right hand to try my other bike, I walked the various errands I had – and actually enjoyed getting to see some of the city at a slower speed, as well as being able to take streets I never choose to ride on.

So what I said about having time off the bike, turned out to have had an earlier start than anticipated. And I get to slowly live with the consequences of feeling rushed.

I was glad that it was my helmet and not my forehead that got scratched up like this.

4 thoughts on “Not Going Quite As Planned

  1. Scary. Glad it wasn’t worse. The guitarist in our band is an avid bicycle rider. Last year he and other bicycle collided during a group ride, he fell, and had an operation to put four pins in his upper leg. He was on crutches for awhile, and it was six months before he bought a new bicycle and was riding again.

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    1. Thanks David. I am certainly grateful it was not worse, and that my visit to the dentist was just for a cleaning and not for a graft! Sorry to hear about your guitarist, and I hope he manages to enjoy riding again.

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  2. Mostly dear Man. We’re happy you’re okay.
    Yes being rushed is a sure invitation to trouble.

    However, in my own life, I know that and end up there sometimes. I used to think “ not skillful “plan better.”

    But some arrogance in that. Am I going to abandon everyone else? Human life cannot be planned well. And stressful rushing is part of the species make up.

    Rushing is not recommended. But maybe we Zen practitioners Should have some training with it.

    What is skillful attentive rushing?

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    1. Thank you Danny. Good questions to ponder. Sometimes I can see a less rushed option – which would have been resigning myself to taking the BART this time. I feel the relief when I do manage to take choices like that, so I would do well to remember that! I hope you are well. 🙏🏼

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