Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Slippery Slope --

And I knew this was going to be a dicey hill. Still, what was I going to do? It seemed pretty okay on the way down from Lake Tapps into the valley below, but for this five hundred foot vertical descent, there's only two ways down. Ten percent Lake Parkway is by far the straightest, most direct route, and there's a nice MUT beside the road if you need it.

Today I decide to use it, figuring crashing into the road is a good idea. It doesn't SEEM very icy, but still.

This decision likely saved my life, or at least my bones.

As I get near the bottom, I start to slow down where I have to leave the MUT and get back onto the road. A passing Ford pickup heading up the hill slows, and the driver shouts something out of the window. At first I think it is the usual truck-yelling-at-cyclist, since that's happened to me a few times today already, but then I process what he's said: "Be careful, it's icy!"

I hear this as I'm slow down further to ride down the ADA sidewalk ramp onto the asphalt, and I shout "yes, it is!" as I'm sliding across the pavement.

Not a PATCH of ice, the whole street is a SHEET of ice.

Here's what happened: The air's been below freezing for most of a week, but it's been dry. Last night was below freezing, too, and and a couple of hours into the ride, it starts to rain. Even though the air is just above freezing, the ground is still right about at it, and so is the air where the clouds are at. The result is that the rain freezes doubleplus speedwise onto the road surface. Instant skating rink!

The nice part about crashing onto ice is that, except for bruises, not much is going to happen. I don't so much as tear a hole in my jersey. Tom, the truck driver, has worked for Boeing for thirty-one years! He smokes Marlboros, and doesn't once mention cycling one way or the other, which is oddly refreshing. The only thing about the whole crashing thing he says to me is that when he saw me go down, he wasn't sure if I was going to get up.

Clearly, Tom has not seen very many bicycle crashes, but that's okay.

And, can I get an armor plate for just my right hip? Seriously, I have banged that thing maybe a zillionplustwo times.

EDIT: Oh. I forgot to tell you why I almost died.

So, remember how I told you that I decided to take the trail instead of the road down the steep hill? Well, the sheet of ice was across the whole thing. As I put my bike into Tom's truck, another big ol' 4x4 pickup careened uncontrolled across the road I would've been riding down, into the oncoming traffic lane, and came to rest on the the median. Though short enough that the truck could've driven slowly over it, the speed and impact broke the front rim and a couple of suspension components, leaving the crippled machine sideways across the road. Further down, an old VW bug was similarly stranded.

This would've been the space I needed to occupy...


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