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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Too Late to Change Velocity

      The chosen syntax to roll off Colin's tongue, just as we descended Turnbull today, was for us to be careful around corners because some places were still wet and no one wanted to crash.  If this were merely fiction, that might be considered a foreshadow.  I'm just going to cling to the belief that irony's alarm clock rang and we were her first victim of the day.  We all agreed, geared up, and on we went.
     The best parts of any ride are the hair-raising, gravity-defying downhills. Except when it's rained the night before.  Mother Nature was kinder this morning, opposed to late afternoon yesterday when I experienced all four seasons of her in one hour (which will be a narrative of a muchier color for next time), and it was even sunny. That made climbing Colima a little easier because it's always nice when it's sunny there. I warmed up a bit, settled into a rhythm, and just pedaled. You could see patches of wet asphalt where the side of the hills blocked the heat of the sun to dry it off. But ascending those places doesn't have the same warning effect as it does when the world is rushing by at the veriest of mach speed. And one tends to forget that there might still be a hint of 'wet' around the next cusp.
I was behind Mike. John behind me. Colin led the peloton of four. Things were going swimmingly: brakes still grabbed, road cooperated, Mike had a little wobble around one bend but recovered just as I passed.
     The second that I realized I was going too fast, it was too late to change velocity and the next few seconds held so much action and reaction, it made Newton's laws cross their arms in narssicistic gloating fashion and on December 17, 2011-- that shit got real. Colin went down and I'm sure every creature in Turnbull Canyon felt the impact and heard his creative expletives of pain and anguish. I had already set my mind to accept the fact that I was going to be the carbon fiber fodder, but somehow I avoided the aftermath. Mike and John were there to help him in nothing flat. They were looking for broken bones. I was looking for broken spokes and a snapped chain. But aside from his bars sitting slightly askew and the clear coat on his rear derailleur a little grooved from being an object on a slip 'n' slide, his ivory Colnago survived much better than the layers of clothing and skin on various parts of Colin's lycra clad body.
      At first, the adrenaline from the collision absorbed the deeper pain and suffering and we decided to coast downhill to Whittier P.D. for some first-aid. We got as far as Painter and Beverly when it wore off and he started to feel it as though it were sound from a neighbor's garage band growing louder and louder, completely harshinig any of his mellow. He took off his glove to survey the hand that most likely suffered the most damage. Dripping with crimson, the skin between his thumb and forefinger looked as though it had been through a blade in a cheese grator.
      We decided to coast down to the police deptartment.  I'm sure it's what the clerks at the precinct experience every day, four cyclists gracing their front door on a cold Friday of them bleeding. I inquired as to whether they had a first-aid kit and the clerk, obviously a comedian on weekends, answered my inquiry with another inquiry as to whether someone was hurt. Reflecting back on it, I wish I had a snappy comeback, such as, 'No, we're on a scavenger hunt and just need a picture of it.'
      Perhaps it was my dumbfounded expression or maybe it was the blood dripping on the floor, but Sargent Clueless quickly saw that we were a serious bunch and while she was tending to the wounds on our comrade, we did what all cyclists do when another crashes...let our adrenaline surge with the reality of what COULD have happened had he not been wearing a helmet and how resilient some materials are to abrasions. Oh yeah, and took pictures. Let's just say that Colin's noggin will not be donned in the helmet he was wearing today. It was cracked in three places! His torn Velocity jacket and jersey will most likely be the clothing worn by a proud survivor on future club rides, but I can guarantee you it will not change HIS velocity. During the ride, he reached his goal of 600,000 ft. of climbing for the year!  That made the irony of the ride lose a little of its sting.

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