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When squirrels fall

To clarify--I did crash my bike on Saturday morning. But, no, it wasn't because a squirrel fell out of a tree on me. Even though a squirrel did fall. Separate incidents.

I had already delayed my long bike ride an hour or so because when I woke up at 5am it was cold and wet still. By the time I was on the road, it was warm and sunny...maybe some of those high tree branches were still slippery though? I was in the bike lane a couple of blocks away, minding my business, when a squirrel--quietly, I didn't know what happened until it hit the pavement--dropped out of an overhanging tree. I never thought this may be the reason to wear a bike helmet! He looked stunned and took a few seconds to finally run away. Thank goodness there were no cars yet because he'd have been toast.

I kept on though I should have taken that as some sort of omen. The next 2 miles, I noticed that a few minor problems which had started on my ride in Minnesota were getting worse. My right foot wouldn't stay clipped into the pedal so that it was coming off every few strokes. The chain and cassette were making grinding and unpleasant metal-on-metal noises. It was enough to be both a distraction and danger.

Sure enough, at the next busy intersection with a traffic light, I found myself unable to get my feet into the pedals. Trying to get out harm's way, I steered to what I thought was a ramp to the sidewalk. It wasn't. That's a curb that kicked me over the handlebars, popped and shredded my front tire, bent my brake hood, and chipped a couple pieces of plastic off my shifters. My hand hurt the worst and thank goodness I was wearing padded bike gloves to absorb the impact. Over the course of the weekend, I'd develop some nice bruises and lines of equipment marking on my thighs from where I partially stepped over and was partially caught in the handlebars. It had taken me a minute to free myself, establish that I wasn't actually hurt, and then walk away without facing the line of cars that was probably laughing out loud at a man who just face-planted while going about 3 mph. Luckily, I knew there was a park with shade and benches in the next block. So I didn't have to hang out by the gas station.

The family came to pick me up and we had a good rest of the day with me trying to forget my morning incident. And, when things settled down yesterday, I got out all my levers and extra tubes and tires and decided to tackle what I could do myself without the bike shop. I managed to bend the brake hoods back into place. Then I tried to enjoy finally putting my Michelin racing tires on (they're red to match the paint). But I'd already decided I needed to take it to the shop for the mechanic despite no obvious damage.

I'd planned to leave the bike in case they wanted to check it over, but everything ended up being fairly simple. They cleaned my chain that was getting crusty. They made sure nothing needed adjustments. Then we talked about the pedal situation. Unfortunately, I do have to walk my bike down the sidewalk a few feet each time I ride. Plus water stops, etc. so the plastic is worn. Their first suggestion was I try to tighten the clip mechanism on the pedal, but after viewing the wear on my shoe it seemed easier to start over than fine tune. The cost $20 but it's a small price to pay to not be missing a screw (literally, I don't mean mentally) and/or unable to keep my foot from flying off the pedal now and then.

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