I’m back in the saddle again

Back when I lived in Denver, the company I was working for announced it would be going out of business in a few months.

The local economy was in the tank, as Denver struggled to shift from a cyclical oil-based marketplace to a more diversified model, and it was clear that I wasn’t likely to find work anytime soon.

So I marked date on my calendar, and promised myself I’d take a solo ride from Denver to Key West if I didn’t find work by then. And I started training, riding at least 50 miles a day, every day — sun, rain, sometimes even snow; 25 miles before work, 25 after, and 50, 60 or more on my days off; often more after I was laid off.

My target date came and went; and I began to seriously prepare for my ride. Then a few weeks from my planned departure, a bout of overconfidence led to my first serious riding accident, resulting in a broken arm and painful road rash from ankle to chin. My ride was canceled; a job offer and a move to San Diego soon followed.

Once healed, I settled into the same pattern there — 25 miles before work, 25 after, 50 or more on the weekend. Except now I wasn’t training for anything, just riding.

A few years later, I was getting ready to ride on morning when it suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t want to. When I tried to remember the last time I really enjoyed riding, I came up blank.

So I put my bike back and quit cold turkey for a few months.

Then one day, I was surprised to discover that I actually wanted to get on my bike again, and went out for an easy spin. The sun was shining, birds were singing, dolphins were playing in the bay.

And it felt good to be back in the saddle again.

I was thinking about that today, because a bad bout with bronchitis had kept me off my bike for the last couple weeks. Even though I wasn’t feeling 100% yet, it was a beautiful day and I wanted to ride. So I took an easy spin down to the beach, keeping my speed down and my distance well below my usual 30 or more miles.

Still, I was pretty shaky, which became clear when I tried to pass a couple of DWP trucks that were blocking most of the bike path so they could work on the overhead wires. Someone stepped out from between the trucks, and instead of easily swerving past, as I normally would, I found myself sailing off into the sand.

My speed carried me a little more than a bike length off the path before the deep, soft sand grabbed my wheels, momentarily freezing me in time and space. It quickly became clear I was going to fall; the only question was how much it was going to hurt.

Out of habit, I automatically clipped out on the right side, just as my bike began a comically slow fall to the left, taking a good three seconds or more to land. To their credit, the workers didn’t laugh, even as I lay there like a beached whale trying to clip out on the other side.

I’m not sure I would have been able to maintain the same self-control if the bike shoe had been on the other foot.

Fortunately, the slow speed and soft surface prevented any injuries, while the left-side landing kept the sand out of my components. So I eventually righted myself and brushed off the sand, and continued on my way.

I seemed to gain strength as I rode, though, and finished the ride feeling better and more confident than I had started it.

Once again, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, dolphins were playing in the bay.

And it felt good to be back in the saddle again.


Santa Monica burnishes it’s bike-friendly credentials by turning one-sixth mile of Ocean Park Blvd. into a “complete green street;” in L.A., we’re still waiting for sharrows. LAPD takes a case where a motorist flees the scene after injuring a pedestrian far more seriously than a similar case involving a cyclist; the comments reveal another cyclist-involved case the authorities ignored. UC Riverside police plan to crack down on cyclists, rather than the people who drive the big, dangerous vehicles. Robert Downey Jr. on bike, with gun. A Baltimore writer says sharing the road is hardly a hardship, asking “How would Jesus Drive?”; a reader responds calling it “condescending, holier-than-thou commentary.” Only in Massachusetts — a Republican candidate actually rides a bike in a campaign ad. Innovative city bike design from someone who has clearly never ridden one. Alejandro Valverde tops the world rankings while cycling’s governing body tries to build a doping case against him.

Finally, in Copenhagen, they take pavement from cars in the middle of the night; sounds like the mirror image of the U.S.


  1. Digital Dame says:

    Argh, I always do that: clip out on the right side while falling to the left. Glad I’m not the only one! 😉 At least you hit some nice soft sand. I did that in the road one day, ended up with a big ol’ bruise on my left hip as you can well imagine. Luckily at least I didn’t get run over.

  2. Ty says:

    I’m glad your fall was non-consequential. Regarding Ocean Park Blvd: Any amount is good, but unfortunately it’s only 1/6 mile that is being made ‘green’, not 6 miles. The whole length of Ocean Park from the ocean to where it merges with Pico is probably 3 miles or so. The cost is $4.5 million. Seems expensive! Thanks for the great blog!

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks, Ty — I’ll fix it. I questioned that when I wrote it; I’m not sure if the original source corrected it as well, or if I just misread it. Either way, you’re right — that does seem like a lot to invest in such a short distance.

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