Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bruising my..uhmm, pride.

Thud! One second I was standing. The next I was sitting on the parking lot's blacktop. What's so ironic that it makes me sick was that I'd ridden over 80 miles in these conditions with no problem. Three steps away from the bike, and wham! My first thought was to hold my helmet up. The next was to look around to see if anyone saw me. Vanity must be built deep into our psyches. Did anyone see? Yeah, pretty much everyone at the coffee shop. I shot a quick glare towards Sophie. She was snickering, I just know it. Oh sure, she tried to disguise it. Sophie was doing her best to look innocent. Innocent? I could see her horns poking up through her halo. Sophie claims the noises she was making were just the ticking sounds of cooling metal. I know better. Oh, she's gonna' pay.

Wednesday morning was cold and foggy. There were promises of sunshine later in the day. I had a meeting at the Vancouver office early in the morning. Travelling 90 miles on urban freeway can take a little longer than one might figure. Just to be sure I wasn't late Sophie and I left pretty early. Dawn was still a couple of hours away. The thermometer indicated it was 33 degrees (f). My road test in front of the house showed only wet pavement. At this temperature freezing fog is always a possibility. On the other hand, most of the journey would be on Interstates. No problem.

This is my first winter doing the Northern route. For three and a half years I was commuting in the opposite direction. A person kind of gets to know the roadways. As in "this particular spot will be fine but I know this other stretch tends to get icy first". You know the kind of thing I'm talking about. It's quickly become apparent where the traffic jams are likely to occur. We're still discovering where the adverse roadway conditions will be. The process is complicated by the Columbia River Gorge. Portland and Vancouver are in The Gorge. Cold East winds do impish things to these areas.

A rider should never become complacent no matter how well they know the roads. In my case, I'm extra vigilant because I'm still learning. It's safe to say that there was no ice on my ride. Traffic on roads like the freeways will either melt ice or glaze it. One's good and the other's horrid! If there wasn't any ice how the heck did I fall down?

Blame a parking lot ( slow moving cars and less traffic ), Gorge winds, sunrise, and just the right temperature. In certain conditions a parking lot will be fine, only to ice up as the sun rises. Usually there's some frost to give a visual warning. Just my luck to find black ice on the slope I walked down. We were running early so we stopped for coffee. It would be a good opportunity to warm up and lose that "lobster look". You know what I'm saying. An hour and a half of riding in freezing weather quickly moves your face past "rosy glow" to "frostbite red"!

There wasn't any warning when I applied the brakes in the lot. Maybe I'm just so smooth it wouldn't of mattered anyway. ( nice self-aggrandizement, huh? ) Three steps later I went from "Cool Hand Luke" to "Court Jester". I'm happy to say that the only thing injured was my pride. I probably should have re-mounted Sophie and rode off. That way people would have been left asking "who was that man who came into the parking lot, fell down, and then rode away again?" As it was, either nobody cared or they were afraid to say anything. I had to sit a little crooked on the wooden chair but no biggie.

It was a very human moment that could have happened to anybody. It could have happened to anybody, couldn't it? The contrast between riding so far and then falling down in the parking lot was just too funny not to share. Even Warriors have their "oops!" moments.

The next week or so is going to be very busy. Tomorrow afternoon ( Friday ) I'm riding up to Portland for the weekend. The new training season's getting underway. It will be interesting to see who the twelve souls are that brave the cold to take the first class of the year. I'm participating in and conducting step-up training for some of our instructors. On Wednesday I'm flying out to Orlando, Florida for a corporate-wide sales meeting. Coming home on Saturday. Sunday will be spent trying to balance convincing Katie she's not really a widow and watching the Super Bowl. It will seem strange to watch them in Miami knowing that just the day before I was near there.

I'll try to sneak in some posts as I can.

Miles and smiles,


Bill Sommers said...

It's not how funny you looked falling down, It's how cool you looked getting up.

Being a recent victim of the invisible black ice, I did the slow brush off, looked around nodding my head in approval of my surroundings, adjusted my shades, then walked away slowly like it never happened.

I think I saw the Fonz do that 30 years ago on Happy Days.

Have fun, and have a safe trip.

Aaron said...

When the weather is that bad, it's okay to take the "cage" to work. Seriously. We won't think any less of you. ;)

gary said...


Allen Madding said...

...its not a function of it being too cold to ride. It's a function of how much clothing you're willing to wear :)

ride (and walk) safe

irondad said...

Thanks for the tip on being "Cool"!

Thanks for the reassurance. I don't know if I'm still trying to prove something or just too dumb to know better.

"Et tu Brutus"?

If I'd had a little more clothing I wonder if I would have bounced?


Combatscoot said...

I've done something similar. First day I had my BMW (first new vehicle I'd ever had), my Dad dragged me up to the Dragon's tail and then over the Cherohalla Skyway- in November. Hit a thick patch of ice on the decent and my Father fell. I slithered to a stop just off the edge of the road, put my foot down, lost traction, and tipped right over. A couple in a pickup truck stopped to help us. The man helped my Dad get upright, and, you-guessed-it, the woman hauled my butt off the ground because I couldn't find a way to get up. Embarassing, but at least she was pretty.

Steve Williams said...

I've fallen on the ice on my scooter and scooter free. On the scooter I look around to make sure no one sees how stupid I am. Scooter free I just curse a bit and wonder when the ground got so hard. I remember falling as a kid and it was nothing. Now it feels like a life threatening event!

Check out the TrunkMonkey videos linked from my latest post about road rage. There is one where the Trunk Monkey offers first aid. A welcome addition to Sophie perhaps?

balisada said...

Falling down is tough on the self esteem no matter what.

By the way, the road to the top of the cell tower hill outside of Brownsville, is called "Washburn heights"

I rode by it this past weekend.

irondad said...

Damsel rescues dude in distress? Nice switch. I'm sorry it happened but I can't help but think it would be entertaining to see! Especially since it wasn't me.

I gotta get me a trunk monkey!! Although it will have to be a little one.

Thanks for the clarification on the road. I saw it winding up the hill and wondered if that was the one. Have to go check it out.

Take care,