It was, as a far better writer once put it, the best of times and the worst of times.
In that order.
Once again, the good folks at GEKLaw offered to let me ride as part of their team for this year’s River Ride.
But while I jumped at the chance to join them — particularly since this year’s ride honored GEKLaw bike attorney Howard Krepack — I’d also made a commitment to volunteer at the LACBC at River Ride. So I split the difference, working the booth while wearing the T-shirt honoring Howard, and letting someone else do the actual ride in my place.
Which is how I found myself riding to Griffith Park at 6:15 in the morning.
Thanks to the early hour, it was a surprisingly easy ride.
Santa Monica Blvd was closed off for the West Hollywood Pride parade, but no one was manning the barricades to stop a lone cyclist from riding through. So from Doheny to Fairfax, I had, in effect, my own private CicLAvia as the only moving vehicle on the street.
Even afterwards, traffic was so light I continued on Santa Monica until it merged with Sunset, before cutting up towards Griffith Park.
Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my breakfast.
Thanks to the early hour and lack of sleep, I had neglected to zip my seat pack. And the pastry I’d brought along to eat at the end of my ride managed to bounce out, thanks to one bump or another.
Thankfully, the more important items, such as my keys and wallet, managed to stay in place.
Then again, I’d also left both of my water bottles at home, so I had a very dry and thirsty one-and-a-half hour ride.
The only other minor problem was a missed turn near the end of my ride. As a result, I found myself making the last leg of my trip on the L.A. River bike path, just as the first Century riders were making their way to Long Beach.
Despite being a two-wheeled salmon riding upstream against the tide of riders, I found myself facing a very courteous crowd of cyclists, all of whom went out of their way to make room for me.
Then just as I left the bike path, I suffered my first flat tire in over a year — ever since last year’s Blessing of the Bicycles, in fact — forcing me to walk the last half mile in order to get there on time.
The good news — or at least that’s the way it seemed at the time — was that there were bike mechanics on hand to make last-minute repairs for River Ride riders before they set out. And within a few minutes, I had a new tube installed and was set for my ride back home.
The rest of the morning and early afternoon is a blur, albeit a very pleasant one.
If you’ve never volunteered for River Ride, I highly recommend it. There’s something very enjoyable about working with a well-oiled team of volunteers to help other riders have a great time. And getting to meet cyclists of every possible description more than compensates for the early morning wake-up call.
Sometimes I get the feeling that if JJ stripped down, you’d find a big red S on her chest. Though where she’d find a phone booth to change in these days is beyond me.
I also had the pleasure of working with a number of great people, many of whom I met for the first time — including a hard-working team from Walk Bike Glendale.
It wasn’t until I took a lunch break at 2 pm that things went south.
In a big way.
Once I moved away from the noise and hubbub of the River Ride, I noticed that I’d missed a couple of calls from my wife. When I called her back, I learned that she’d tripped while walking on a sidewalk, and couldn’t move her right leg or wrist.
So I got back on my bike, riding through unfamiliar territory in an attempt to shorten the return trip home so I could get her to the emergency room.
And that’s one of the few situations where driving has the advantage over bike commuting. When something goes wrong, you can find yourself a long way — and a very stressful long time — from home.
Then there’s the other problem.
About half way home, I had another flat.
It seems the mechanic who did me the favor of fixing my earlier flat — at no charge, I might add — did me no favor by failing to find what caused it. Sure enough, as I examined the tire, I found a small piece of glass embedded in the tread that had worked its way back into my tube.
Since I had already gone to work at the LACBC booth while he fixed my flat, I have no idea whether he had looked for the cause of the flat, or just failed to find it.
Either way, I was forced to stop and make another repair at the worst possible time.
So my apologies to anyone in Hancock Park who may have heard the words I was muttering under my breath. At least, I hope they were under my breath.
The lesson learned is, as Ronald Reagan put it, trust but verify. If you have someone else fix your flat, make sure they check the tire.
Or better yet, just fix it yourself.
I finally got home nearly two-and-a-half hours after I’d spoken with my wife. And five minutes later, I was driving a very angry and highly pained spouse to the ER.
The good news is, she seems to be okay.
No broken bones or dislocations; three days later, her wrist is better, though she’s in a splint and on crutches until she can see the orthopedist — which, thanks to the complications that come with an HMO, may not be until mid-July.
If anyone trots out the old fallacy that this country has the best medical system in the world, please refer them to that last sentence.
We may have decent medical care, but the insurance system that supports it is badly broken.
Meanwhile, I now find myself driving her to and from work, walking the dog and doing all the work around the house.
Not that I’m complaining, of course.
That’s just part of being married.
But it does explain why my posts have been a little sparse this week.
Hopefully, I should have time to sit down and write again later tonight. There’s a huge stack of bike-related press releases and requests for publicity gaining virtual dust on my desktop.
So give me a little time, and I’ll get back to the topic of biking.