Sunday, May 06, 2012

Super Moon Misadventure

by Sheila -

Rolling over in bed this morning, I was shocked awake by the pain in my hip. As the world came into focus, I felt the ache over my whole body. Like waking from a dream, I was trying to put the pieces together. What was going on? Like a flash I remembered and smiled. If I remember, then I don’t have a concussion.

One can never pinpoint the exact beginning of a chain of events, but I’ll start with yesterday morning. Up at the ridiculous hour of 6:30 to get ready for the class climbing trip. At the trailhead at 9. The long hike in, a day of climbing, and then a long hike out. All went well despite not fully recovering from the climbing course the weekend before. A tweaked knee and a couple of sore joints in my hand, so I took it easy out on the rock. Conscious of the day ahead, I focused on calorie and water intake and did really well staying on top of that. A great day for climbing and a great group on the trip. Couldn’t have asked for better weather. If that was all my day had in store, then I would have fallen into an exhausted sleep with a smile on my face. But yesterday was supermoon.

On the way home from climbing I ran the weekly grocery errand, necessary but not really what I wanted to do next, as a nap sounded much more appealing. In the store I was overcome with yawning so intense that each time one hit, I was paralyzed for a few seconds as my whole body participated in its desperate cry for a nap. Once home, I curled up in a blanket burrito and rested a bit. Oh sweet nap, how you eluded me. At least resting for a few hours in a puddle in the floor was a little rejuvenating. And I built up enough gumption to go out to visit with the supermoon.

Tom had planned a full moon bike ride at Pine Creek. I told him the day before that I couldn’t commit to going until after the climbing trip. I was a maybe. I wasn’t sure when I’d be back from the trip or what state I would be in. When the time came though, I thought ‘I’ll be tired for a day or so afterwards, but it will be so awesome seeing the moon in the canyon”. So I told Tom if he drove and loaded the bikes on the car, I’d go. There was no way I wanted to be lifting anything over my head at that point in the day. I stayed in my blanket burrito until the last minute, threw on my cycling clothes and packed my bag. It is an indicator of my exhaustion that I packed my pyjamas for my post-ride change of clothes.

When we got to the trailhead, I finished suiting up in the car. I sat there in my bike shoes and helmet in the residual warmth of the drive over waiting for others to show. Only one other person showed and we hit the trail. Not long into the trip, a few hundred yards, we turned back to inflate her tires which were I-left-my-bike-in-the-garage-all-winter low. Tom to the rescue. Tires pumped we headed out. If only we had thought to bring the pump with!

If you haven’t ridden in the canyon at night, I suggest you give it a try. Even though the moon wasn’t yet flooding the canyon with light, visibility was such that we didn’t need our lights. Riding in that low light is a bit disorienting. You can’t see the terrain or the horizon. The shadows all look like bears waiting to come nibble on me. Riding by feel and enjoying the company we start discussing how strange it is to ride at night. I’m all wobbly. With not enough visual cues, I overcorrect for every slight feeling the bike gives me. I’m like a little kid just learning to ride again. And then the noise starts. A low whop whop sound that is clearly one of my wheels doing something. I pull up next to Tom and his professional ears pick up what I am beginning to suspect. I have a flat front tire. Dead flat. 4 or 5 miles from the car. No pump.

Sigh, no awesome night riding in the moonlit canyon. The end of the night had just begun and still the moon hasn’t peeked over the canyon rim. But I can’t really go on, so I turn around to start riding back. Tom, ever the gentleman, offers to trade front wheels with me. I say no, I’ll be fine. He laughs a knowing laugh under his breath and says he’ll ask again in a mile or so. But I do fine. Wobbly still, and I wonder how much of my earlier sloppy riding was a slowly flattening tire.

We start joking about the night. Dark, exhausted, flat tire, no wonder I can’t ride straight. The only thing to make it worse would be if I had a few beers in me. Of course perhaps all these factors are counteracting each other and keeping me upright! All was well and we were riding back in light spirits, a little disappointed with the ride cut short but beginning to see moonlight on the far canyon wall. There were even a few moments of our moon shadows on the trail ahead of us. Next time, we need to start the ride an hour later. Oh well we say, it could be worse.

One must not tempt nature so loudly. In the dark, I miss seeing the edge for the bike path and my front wheel hits the loose gravel that is the drop off to the horse path. Just so you know, a flat tire is not the best choice for staying upright in such a situation. As my bike is sliding out from underneath me, Tom, who had been following my line, hits the same gravel. Had I not been in his way, he probably would have just ridden down to the horse path and been fine. But as it was, I was partially off my out of control bike that was right in his path and rapidly becoming both horizontal and parallel to the trail. We all know that noise that bikes make when they collide. Imagine that now.

I love my clipless pedals. They make riding so much easier. I try to convince others wary of trying them that they are worth the learning curve. And during that curve there is always that time or two when we clip out with the wrong foot and fall over the other way. So I am amused when I think of my feet automatically unclipping as I was thrown from the bike. I hit my hip and upper arm, at least that is what hurt when I lay there doing a self-assessment before I moved, rolled onto my back and just lay there.

Tom runs over and ask if I’m ok. He apparently managed to not get ejected from his bike. I told him I was fine, had hit my side not my back or head, and was just getting myself together. “Catch your breath” he said, and I did just that. A lay there feeling my body, feeling my heart, feeling the ground underneath me. “Now this is why you wear a helmet on the rail trail” I say and laugh as I peel myself off the ground and dust off looking for a tear in my beloved cycling knickers. I haven’t yet looked at the bikes.

First thought is my handlebars are bent, then I see it is just the brake hoods. Then I see the handlebars are no longer in line with my front wheel. I laugh to myself. This will be great! Not only do I have a flat tire, but the wheel will be pointing an inch or so to the left. This will be an ‘awesome’ ride/walk back to the car. Tom is busy looking at the rest of the bikes. One of my pedals is stuck in his front wheel, but he can’t remove it because one of his brake levers is caught in my front wheel. Please don’t ask how this happened. I was busy falling at the time.

Once Tom separates the bikes, he goes to work straightening and checking, as I laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. Perhaps we should be more prepared next time we attempt this adventure! Straightened out, we hop on the bikes and head back to the car. I’m sore and know it will hurt tomorrow. Having seen neither myself or the bikes in anything other than moonlight, I don’t know what the real damage is. Tom is now riding ahead of me (smart man) with his light on (at my request) and I can see dangling handlebar tape. He has lost his bar end plug. Not a big loss for us, but I feel a little bad about littering.

By the time we are packed up, and I’ve changed into my pyjamas for the drive home, I can feel the onset of all-over aches, including a headache. It feels like what I always thought of as growing pains. When I was a kid I would get these non specific aches in my arms, legs, hands and feet that would only feel better if I massaged them or wrapped them tightly in ace bandages. I felt these coming on and wondered again, what they were all about. So I ached until I got home and hoped that some food would help me feel better.

Once home, with the final disaster of the day averted (we remembered to not drive into the garage with the bikes on top) I poured myself a tall glass of chocolate soy milk and noticed I was shivering cold. Ever the gentleman, Tom warmed up a cinnamon roll for me while I wrapped up in a blanket and got the shivering under control. He brought me a couple Aleve, I ate my snack and crawled into bed.

The day after and I am worn out. Part adrenaline hangover. Part overexertion. Part recovery. While tired and sore all over, the only pain I can pinpoint is the bruised hip. The rest is some mix of the adventures of the past 24ish hours. It seems I’ll recover, but I haven’t yet worked up the nerve to look at my bike.

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