Friday, November 6, 2009

1st commute wipe-out

I'm still a bit PO'd about this. Basically, in a nutshell, I wiped out this morning on the Transfer while en route to work. I'm OK physically (we'll see tomorrow AM if I have any muscle soreness - I expect there will be), and the bike is OK (just minor scrapes on the pedal end and end of handlebar). So I guess that's the good news.

There is a major construction zone along my preferred route to work - the others being either more-heavily traveled or considerably steeper and a lengthier route door-to-door. Going to work is mostly flat or downhill, coming home of course, is flattish and uphill.

The construction zone is for a project to build an interstate highway interchange - so this isn't a small project by any means. To protect pedestrians and bicyclists, or at least keep them away from construction crews, the construction crews have made a separated, shared path* along one side of the road, segregated from traffic by jersey barricades and a chain link fence.

As I was traveling in this protected area this morning at about 15 mph or less, I saw ahead what appeared to be plywood laid down in the path. It wasn't. It was 1" tall steel plate that was wet and covered with a bit of sand and dirt. Between choices of hopping the plate (likely 6 to 8 feet wide, not a great option) or trying to stop (also not a good option - not enough distance to stop) I chose the latter. The front wheel struck the plate and dumped the bike over to the left. I hopped off the bike (PO'd that the bike was dumped - I was more concerned about getting it scraped up) and landed on my feet, running a few steps but staying on my feet.

A construction worker asked if I was OK. I said I was PO'd and explained I could not see the plate. He said he had cones (three of them - pushed to one side) but he didn't want them to obstruct the path (????). I got back on my bike and rode away, as I was a block or two from my employer's.

Ironic that my focus lately has been on making me more visible to others and my attention has been directed towards watching out for other moving objects (like cars) and that my wipe-out has nothing to do with that. I think my next investment will be for an ultra bright light - I cannot rely upon others to provide adequate illumination or to keep paths clear - even those designated for pedestrians and bicyclists.

*Since using this shared facility, I am becoming less and less thrilled with them. Since it is only on one side of the road, I hate riding against traffic on the opposite side of the road than I am accustomed to. Barrier there or not, it just feels weird. The reason I have not continued to stay in traffic is on the opposite side of the road they have barricades there and no shoulder, so if you get a flat or what-have-you, you're pretty much stuck in an "automotive gauntlet" for nearly three-quarters of a mile. I'll try to post pictures of this - or maybe try to make a video.

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