Monday, June 6, 2011

The Humble Cyclist

A need for speed pervades all of us.

As we get older, our balls shrink. Yes, that means that we might be downhillers, bungee jumpers, commandos, or someone who picks a fight with everyone everyday, but as we get older, our senses of self-preservation starts to get stronger and stronger. No doubt, as age increases, we don't have the benefit of youth, and that has serious implications when you have something as simple as a wound or a fracture. A young man can get over it in weeks, but a person double that young man's age can also expect to double the amount of time needed for recovery.

If you've been keeping up with my blog, you'll know that I recently got into my worst bike accident, breaking my collarbone into two, with one above another. The pain was excruciating when I first landed on the hard packed dirt surface. I could only scream - this was not an accident like the others where I could just sweep the dirt off and get up.

I have had a few crashes before that I can still remember. Two of them I remembered vividly involved extremely powerful brakes. Once I went down a hill and jammed the brake - I endoed over, got a few cuts and bruises, then went home. The other occurred when I was in school, my friend loaned me his nice hydraulic disc brake MTB, so I went to test everything to the limit. Yesssss, the same thing happened. My spectacles was bent, but other than a bruise, there wasn't anything else. I even got to skip a history lecture because I told my teacher I fell down the stairs. Inevitably, I came to the conclusion that brakes are dangerous.

Dangerous Biker

Then, there was another time when I was at Mount Faber. I finished the terribly painful climb up on my clunker, and then I went down the hill at almost full speed, without brakes. Incredibly, I was overtaking roadies even though I had tyres twice as wide as theirs, and it was thrilling to see people in lycra getting overtaken by an amateur-in-cotton. Doing 40, I tried to do a very sharp corner, and I managed to ease through one after another, until the last one, which was an extremely sharp U turn. That was when I swallowed my pride after I wiped out. The kind roadies came to offer me assistance, and I was humbled. I came to the conclusion that bicycles cannot lean like MotoGP bikes.

Then there's the most recent accident. I learnt that brakes are not dangerous - what's dangerous is imitating professional riders pictured in Mountain Bike UK.

I'm certain that you have a number of personal experiences, hopefully nothing too serious. But all these experiences teach you that life is short, bones are fragile and medical bills are expensive. Certainly, after these three events, I have experienced that every accident is not worth it. It cuts your day of riding short and can leave you out of action for quite a while in more serious cases. Experience is a hard teacher... it gives the test first and then the lesson next.

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