Jul
24
2008

  Fell Over Twice

It didn't take long for me to exceed my skill and experience level on my new bike. This morning I tooled around the fields in 1st and 2nd gears, working on getting comfortable with tighter turning radii. Also I went faster over bumpy parts, standing up so I wouldn't get bounced off the bike. I love the feel of the bike bouncing around beneath me, my legs and arms bouncing with it while I keep the rest of my body evenly suspended in the air. It really is just as fun as it looks like on TV.

But I went up to the front field again, but instead of turning around, I tried to cross the ditch. Tried being the operative term. Because of the tall grass and weeds (the tractor doesn't mow there), I couldn't see exactly where the ditch was, or its depth. So I went towards it very slowly. Not even in gear, really, just rolling down the hill a bit at a time. But then my front tire got in it and I stopped. I couldn't just pull the front tire up and over, so I decided I would try putting the bike in gear and driving out. Instead, I just wound up falling over. But the kill switch is conveniently located so I immediately shut the engine off, crawled out from under the bike, and heaved the thing up.

It wasn't too heavy for me to lift, I got it up on my first try, but it did exhaust me. I just stood there until I could catch my breath again. My strategy was halfway successful, since that burst of momentum did get the front tire up out of the ditch. But I fell over when the back tire hit the ditch. I decided to try that strategy again.

This time, although I once again fell over, the tire didn't get completely out of the ditch. And after I crawled out and picked the bike up again, I was really exhausted. I had to take my helmet off and get some air. But the air was all fume-y since I guess the fluids get a bit shaken up during a fall, so it took me longer to feel strong enough to continue. But once I had caught my breath again, I popped that helmet back on my head and tried again.

Except this time, I tried just pushing the rear tire out of the ditch. Or was I pulling it? I was straddling the bike, but with my boots dug into the ground and using my body weight to push the bike uphill out of the ditch. That was also tiring, but not so disruptive as actually falling over.

After that, I rode slowly back through the upper field and back home via the driveway, all in first gear. As soon as I parked the bike in the garage I had to get undressed and lie down in front of the fan since I was overheated and exhausted.

It's been a few hours, and while I cooled down quickly enough, my muscles are just now starting to get really sore. I can hardly lift my arms. I wonder how much the bike weighs? And while I landed on soft ground (and was wearing jeans & long-sleeved shirt) and was spared any abrasions, my left knee is sore, and a bruise is starting to develop.

Well, I'll never learn what my limits are unless I test them! But I will avoid that ditch again. I suspect it wouldn't have been a problem if I just went over it at speed, but since I'm not sure, I'm not going to try it. I might just flip the bike at speed, and I'm not eager to try that. But it would be fun to be able to make a larger loop around the property, so I'll probably head out there with a brushcutter and a shovel, and 1) clear a path through the tall grass and weeds, then 2) shovel in some dirt to fill in the ditch where I've created the path. I think that may actually take less time than learning how to hop the ditch by trial-and-error, and it will certainly be safer.

Falling over was not fun. But neither was it a particularly big deal. I couldn't hop right back on the bike and immediately continue, I did have to catch my breath, but once I build up more strength I think lifting the bike won't tax me as much. I fully intend to speed over the bumps and fly through the air, so I anticipate that I'll have to get used to falling over. But at least I now know better than to try to cross a ditch. I'm gaining biking wisdom and experience already!