Posted by: Budger | September 22, 2007

Fall from Grace

So let me start out first by saying that I am OK.  The bike has seen better days, but then again so have I.  Today was the Raven Ride, a training ride in Huntsville, TX.  For those of you not familiar with Texas, Huntsville is the home of the Texas State Prison.  It also supposedly has some of the worst hills outside of the Hill Country.  It is about 1 1/2 hours north of Houston.  My friend Shannon, her mom Vicki, her sister Kathy (our team captain) and Shannon’s niece Melissa came in from San Antonio to ride with me.  Our plan was to do the 51 mile route. 

Up at 4AM to be out of the house by 5:30 and on the road to Huntsville, we were all buzzing around this morning to get ready to go.  The weather here in Houston is finally cooling, and when we got to Huntsville, everybody, but me, thought it was nippy outside.  We were busy outside the cars unloading bikes, loading water etc.  Before the we knew it, it was time to go.

Huntsville Training Ride 004 Huntsville Training Ride 007

The ride kicked off at 8AM, and off we went into Hill Hell.  Now my preference is to do hills early, if I have to do them, while I’m fresh.  But I also like to get a mile or two under my belt to get my rhythm before I have to start struggling my way up a hill.  Unfortunately the ride organizers failed to consult me on this.  Imagine that???  About 1/2 mile out from the start was the first hill, then the 2nd, then the 3rd.  Are you getting the picture?  I just kept thinking that if I make it over the next hill, I’ll be OK, but every time I crested a hill there would be another one.  And these were big hills.  For Texas, these were the mother lode of hills.  I made it up and over 6 hills, and was barely making it when I crested, and looked up to see one more hill.  I stopped, looked around, and there was the Turtle SAG on my tail.  Watching, lurking, waiting for the sign.  I walked a little, to get the jelly feeling out of my legs, and then got back on the bike and went again.  I got halfway up the next hill, and had to stop and walk the rest.  Every time I looked behind me, there was the Turtle.  At one point, I was tempted to walk back to the truck, and introduce myself.  "Hi, I’m Rhonda.  We’re going to be spending a lot of time together today."  (For those of you who don’t know, the Turtle SAG is the last SAG.  Their job is to bring up the rear, and make sure that the last riders are covered for support.  So seeing the Turtle behind you means you’re the last rider.)  After some more struggles, I finally gave the sign, and the Turtle came up and I asked them to take me to breakpoint 1.  

At breakpoint 1 I was somewhat encouraged because it looked like the hills were over for at least a little while.  I started out again, and was starting to get my rhythm, when I got the dreaded leg cramps.  I have a problem with this because of my Lymphedema.  I’d get a cramp, pull over, rub my calf, and then start again.  I got another one and right as I went to unclip and put my foot down, I lost my balance and….there she goes.  TIMBER!

Now, I don’t profess to be a graceful person.  Nobody who knows me would dispute my saying that I am a first class klutz.  But this fall would have made Olympic marks for shear spectacle alone.  My right leg went straight out to the right, and somehow, not through any inherent flexibility on my part, I ended up doing the split on the bike to the ground.  I landed on the back tire, with the fork in a not very comfortable spot with my left leg over the front part of the bike.  Can you say GRACE?  A couple that was ahead of me heard the commotion and looked back, stopped and came back.  Are you OK?  Uh No – I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.  I look like Buddha worshiping at a bike shrine while doing the splits.  One helps me up while the other is examining my bike.  They both determine that I’m not going anywhere.  The derailleur is bent, and the back tire will no longer spin.  Gee, I can’t imagine why.   I’ve gone 8 miles. 

They put me, and what was left of my bike in the truck, and off we went back to the start.  As I was getting out of the truck, the Turtle driver said to me "At least you were doing it."  I tried to smile, but it was difficult.

The rest of the team did great.  Melissa made it the whole 51 miles.  Shannon missed a turn and ended up doing 33, and Kathy and Vicki did 38 and 43 respectively.  I made up for my day by running the personal SAG with Shannon to get Vicki and Kathy, and then we all cheered Melissa on.  Everyone was talking about Hill Hell. 

Huntsville Training Ride 024

After lunch and after the rest of the gang headed back to San Antonio, Shannon and I dropped my bike at the bike shop.  I was hoping the damage would be bad enough I’d have an excuse for a new bike, but no such luck there either.  Repairs should be done by Tuesday evening.  Me – I have a bruised leg, bruised rear, and a bruised ego.  The best part about not being graceful is that I have 40+ years of conditioning.  Odds are high that I’ll fall out of bed in the morning, and today will be forgotten.  The bike and I will have a kiss and makeup ride on Wednesday. 

Stats:

Miles – 8

Hills – Who knows

Bike Shop Bill – $50-$100 depending on labor.  Doesn’t look like I’ll need any new parts.

Lesson learned – At least I was doing it.  That’s more than I can say for 2 years ago.

Huntsville Training Ride 030

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Responses

  1. You may be a little dented after that ride; but your determination is inspiring! You remind that whenever I face an obstacle or stumble on the journey, and it\’s going to happen, it\’s best to dust yourself off and keep on doing it. have fun on your ride tomorrow!

  2. You keep riding and writing, Rhonda — you are fantastic at both! And, in the true sense of living large, a spectacular fall is much more interesting than a turned ankle–and funny to read about, even if my heart did go out to you. Here\’s to the next hill and no falls —
     
    Josie 


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