Just call me Topples

On this past sunny Sunday afternoon as we trekked out on a beautiful rolling ride that took us past everything from industrial buildings, country farmlands, goats, roaring cars and peaceful babbling brooks, I learned something new about myself; I’m a toppler. Most veteran cyclists have at least one crash story to tell, and I’ve heard a lot of them. There have been tales of run ins with parked cars or moving cars or speed bumps, slipping on wet roads, or rocks, being hit with flying debris or opening car doors, and even just flying off the bike for no other reason than it was your day to go down. I’ve also seen the end result; black and blue bruises, broken bones, and third degree road rash. While I have certainly endured black and blue bruises and blood, there has been nothing epic about my ‘topples,’ which seems like a perfectly good adjective to describe the slow motion flail of my body hitting the hard concrete. The word ‘crash’ should be reserved for stories that evoke shudders from your audience, not laughter. But what more would you expect, I still struggle to properly clip in and out of my pedals – a beginners skill I should have mastered by now. And if I so much as take my right hand off my handlebar to make a signal, I struggle with some fairly seriously teetering. Even dropping down into the TT position requires a significant amount of serious concentration. I am like a wobbly baby fawn learning how to ride a tricycle. So, it should come as no surprise on this Sunday ride that when my chain locked up mid-way through a steep yet small hill, I did what every rookie would do, panic. I immediately started over thinking the situation as my clipped in feet suddenly felt like led bricks chained down to the pedals, and my wobbly balance weaved me like a drunken sailor towards the ditch then the middle of the road before I flung one foot out and planted it clumsily on the ground. But my unsteady legs, tired from hours of riding, were practically wet noodles and like the demise of the leaning tower of pisa, I crumbled over onto my hip, and flopped to the ground. You ask almost any cyclist and they will tell you what hurts the most after a crash (or a topple in my case) isn’t our bleeding flesh, bruised knees, or concussed heads, but our pride. I felt like the lonely, geeky kid on the playground desperately trying to impress the cool kids, yet failing miserably. Although, the “cool kids” I play with are much more forgiving, and yelled back to make sure I was OK. Despite the black and blue hip and blood seeping from the back of my calf, of course I was fine, I fell over going a mere 2 kilometres an hour. So, I picked myself up off the asphalt, dusted myself off and thought to myself that at least the oozing blood looked badass, and for those who didn’t see the topple, I would just smile and tell them it was epic.

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