... the true indication that the cyclist is ok after a big fall.
every cyclist falls. it's just a matter of whether it's a small (read: embarrassing) clipless fall or a high speed crash into the ditch.
i myself have had my fair share of falls. i fell so many times during my first month of cycling that mom stopped asking how my ride was and started asking "where did you leave your skin samples this time?"
for the record: my skin samples can be found at damansara heights, hartamas, sg long, tmn megah in front of boon foo's, en route batu arang, fraser's hill, putrajaya, cyberjaya and most recently pd.
save for damansara heights, cyberjaya and pd, the above were at fairly low or no speed clipless falls. most embarrassing of the lot would have been boon foo's and en route batu arang.
two falls in one day.
very possible if it's your first day using clipless and you did not heed your friend's advice to do clip-in/out exercises against a wall before trying them out on a ride.
i had bought it two days before, within my second month in riding, and decided to try them out at the next ride: boon foo's bikepro sunday ride, tmn megah-bt arang with mentor richard.
there i was, amongst giants. feeling humbled i decided to be at the back of the pack. richard asked if i knew how to use clipless.
"ok, first you clip in your right"
"then when we push off, you clip in your left"
i only heard, "clip in your left"
for some unknown reason, law of physics escaped my mine. i confidently lifted my left foot and before i realised how dumb i was to have both legs off the ground without momentum, i fell inches from the filthy drain, in front of boon foo's.
8 bikepro riders had clear view of me as they turned to hear what the crash was... 5 ahead tried but didn't really bother.
i was quite glad that we eventually lost the pack after some hard riding trying to hold on to them (ok, i'll be honest, we lost them before reaching the underpass tunnel heading to 1-Utama from boon foo's)
since richard didn't know the way too well using the excuse that his view was normally the back of someone's wheel all the way so he never noticed landmarks (show off...), we tried our best to reach bt arang.
we met another rider on the way and he decided to join us. en route to bt arang, he had a flat. richard way in front and i approached him while he was busy replacing his tube.
"need help?" i asked (what was i thinking! i didn't even know how to change a tube!)
as i stopped, my early lessons of left & right escaped me. i unclipped my right foot but have always had the tendency to stop with my left.
so, braked lightly, right foot unclipped, left foot still clipped, lean left to dismount as bike slowed down.
another big mistake....
i fell the moment i leaned left before my bike could come to a complete stop. i somehow ended up face in gravel, bike on top of me.
"need help?" he asked.. (what a strange conversation i thought...)
over time, i graduated to 'higher' speed crashes. the most scary one being cyberjaya one rainy sunday morning.
i have no recollection of what really happened because i passed out upon impact. all i remember is, wet road, turn left, darkness, open eyes, saw people around me and i'm flat on my back.
this is what arif remembered: wet road, turn left, push ahead, heard crash behind, thought "hope that's not senn", turned around, "senn!"
as arif and others fussed around me, picked me up and sat me on the side curve, bernard came up and said "don't worry, you're bike is ok.. how are you?"
i never fully understood what he meant then. and everybody thought it was funny how he was the only one that went straight for my bike when others went to see how i was doing.
i was only 3 -4 months old in the cycling group and thought "why would i care about my bike in a crash?" and "my bike?? my helmet's cracked in four places at the back, which could have been my coconut and he worries about my bike?? bike nazi..."
Some weeks later, arif had a high speed crash on the way back from genting peres. he got thrown from his bike, head first into the concrete drainage and broke his carbon bars in the process.
he had drafted too near the guy in front. his front clipped the rider's back and he went falling across the street towards the ditch. apart from a swelled groin, and a small cut just below his eye, he was ok. while waiting for support he told me what went through his mind:
"shit, i touched the wheel"
"shit, this is going to hurt"
"shit, is my bike going to be ok?"
"shit, if my bike is damaged, how much is it going to cost?"
"shit, if i get damaged how long am i going to be out of action?"
funny how one can think of so many things when everything is over within seconds. and again, at that time i didn't fully understand his need to think about his bike.
over the next few months coming towards this year, nothing too exciting happened and i eventually graduated from my faithful cow to the diva . by now, i have grown to love my cycling, my cow, and my new diva. i believed they spoke to me and while it sounds a bit psycho, i have hugged my frames occasionally as they hung from the bike rack at home. and it saddens me to see the cow looking like a carcass without wheels, groupset, or handlebars.
something changed in me over this year and i think i'm beginning to understand the natural instinct of placing your bike's well being before your own. your bike is so much an extension of yourself that to a certain extend, it feels like your baby. own flesh and blood to care for and protect.
although i try to separate my feelings and say "yes, i love my bike, i would be miserable without it, but my safety is more important", i think i have sub-consciously become a bike nazi like bernard.
i have no idea when or where it started creeping into my head and heart. i didn't even know how strong a hold it had on me until my crash at pd over the weekend.
we were approaching a junction in a group at the pd triathlon dry-run when fellow triathlete randy fell because of slippery tarmac. he got up and shouted "oil! oil!". we became cautious and turned left. as we turned, the rider in front of me skidded and fell. wanting to avoid him, i turned my wheel slightly but the tarmac was so slippery i skidded too.
as i fell, i somehow unclipped both legs and saw my bike slidding about two meters in front of me. this was what was going through my head:
"shit, guy slipped"
"shit, roads slippery"
"NOOOOOOOoooooOOOOOOOoooooo! diva's sliding on the road!"
"no-no-no... the paint....the frame... noooooooo....."
my heart cringed at the sight of the diva sliding... it felt endless and painful. i got up, picked the diva up and checked her on both sides.
at this point i still had the mantra "love your bike, love yourself more" and i had absolutely no idea how much of a bike nazi i've become until this conversation with arif as he rushed beside me:
"are you ok"
"ok... bike's ok"
"are you ok?
"my bike's ok"
"forget the bike! i don't care about the bike! are you ok?"
"o... errr, yea... am ok...."