Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cycle commuting around the world

Sent to me by my friend Donald in Mexico City, this Washington Post piece looks at where in the world people ride and why. Turns out that a few not-so expensive bikeway improvements can get people out of their cars...but not everywhere....

Please watch this slide show

Here, in a presentation from today's NY Times, you see a slide show and hear a guy who has seen it all describing a thing he cannot believe he's seen: a long stretch of Park Avenue closed to motor traffic just one day a year - Park Avenue teeming with equally delighted cyclists, peds, wheelchairs, folks walking their pets, guys on stilts...

It'll warm your heart; I guarantee it. Tamar found this. She's tired from working and taking care of me. I'm tired from the effort involved in most any action. We both felt re-energized after watching this slide show.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bob Mionske's VN road rage overview

Here's a link to a well researched, well presented piece in today's VeloNews Online. Bob Mionske, VN's legal columnist, talks about motorists and other road users, about our perceptions of one another and the roots of road rage.

We all recognize this phenomenon and have vaguely shaped hunches about it. I believe that reading Mionske's piece will enlighten us and go some distance to explaining why....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Weds morning at home

No appointments today: no physical therapist visit, no trip to a hospital for a blood draw or a followup doctor exam. Even if the appointment only takes an hour, door to door, it sucks up my energy and I fail to post a report on my blog.

Each day, I get a tiny bit better. Now by myself I can get my left leg down from our high bed so that my foot is on the floor. I can get my leg into and back out of the bathtub much more easily.

Small victories.

I have leg exercises and hand exercises. I do them as directed and sometimes I can sense that my fingers and leg are gaining strength and range of movement. Yesterday, I took the wheelchair down the elevator to the lobby to get Tamar's and my mail. I'd never noticed how quickly the elevator doors want to close as you try to get on.

Since I began putting these updates on my blog site, I've received comments from many of you that have cheered me and even sent thrills down my spine.

Over the years, as you'd imagine, I've met dozens or hundreds of cyclists and motorcyclists. I never feel that I am the guy (in person) that my readers would like me to be - that I fail somehow through preoccupation with myself or inability to get into the minute so I can listen to others with full focus, with all my attention.

At the computer, it's easier to be the guy you want to be, the even-handed, thoughtful friend.

When I get wonderful, supportive comments as I have this last week, I am encouraged. I think: Maybe you weren't such a disappointment after all - or not always. Thank you.

I figure that most of my (blog) readers also read Dave Moulton's posts. Since I became aware of his site, I have read him faithfully. As you surely know, Dave insists that he's pulling the plug: He's done posting to his blog. I hope Dave is not as set in this as he sounds.

I can get to my computer more easily now via walker and wheelchair. But if when I get there there are no new Dave Moulton comments to read and ponder... Come back, Dave... Come back.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bad dudes; cute puppies and kitties

Here, from today's NY Times, is a piece about a buncha badass guys you would not invite to dinner - and their organized soft-heartedness toward at-risk pets. Please watch the slide show.

I'm walking behind the walker, doing laps of our floor here in the building. I'm doing the exercises suggested by my physical therapist. I get a tiny bit more mobile each day. Thanks as always for your kind thoughts.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

At the hospital

The super-nice EMTs put me on a sling and then onto a gurney. They carried me up the ramp off the bike path to the road. One of the guys told me they'd take my bike to Firehouse 22. I tried to commit the number to memory but I didn't care much about seeing the bike again anytime soon.

When I did see it again, maybe Thursday of the following week, it looked fine. I think the EMTs, several of whom were riders, knocked an STI lever back into place. Otherwise, I took the punishment, not my bike.

Repair to the bike: $10 for handlebar tape. Repair to me: As yet untold thousands. Thank God for Medicare and the Veteran's Administration.

The EMT put an IV in me and cut off my socks, shorts and jersey. I got my helmet and Oakleys off. Everything went in a bag for safekeeping at the hospital. Maybe at that point they started giving me painkillers. I don't remember our arrival at the ER...or not clearly.

Tamar called while I was in the ambulance. She had not listened to my voice mail message so when I said, "I'm in an ambulance; I've broken my leg," that was the first she'd heard. She said she'd see me at the hospital.

I passed through the ER, the pre-op room, the operating room and the post-op room before being deposited in my own room, my home for the next eight days. From that day, I remember the ER and perhaps the pre-op room. That's all.

In the ambulance, fearing that the pain in my leg was so severe that I would not notice pain around my head or neck, the EMT put a collar around my neck. He also put an oxygen mask on my face. Wearing the two devices, I could not turn my head much. Flat on the gurney, I could only see ceilings, a square of stainless steel in the ambulance or acoustic tile in the hospital.

In the ER, maybe a dozen or 15 people worked on me. I could see no one's face. All that activity, and I wouldn't recognize more than one or two individuals today. On the way from one room to the next, perhaps to the operating room, as I rode on the gurney the walls of what seemed to be round hallways rolled around me.

When given the choice, Tamar and I opted for the complete anesthetic. I could have stayed somewhat conscious for the surgery, but we decided against it, I'm happy to say.

The drugs make you accepting and warm. Hey, whatever. As the days passed in the hospital, I tried to minimize my use of the painkillers. I was stupid. I quickly got afraid of the pain that I was making sure I'd feel. Gosh, I was hurt badly. The pain and my fear of it slowed my healing, I'm sure. If I had it to do over again...

More soon. Thanks for walking along next to my gurney....

Friday, August 22, 2008

The first day...

I'd ridden out the Cherry Creek path and around the Cherry Creek Reservoir or Lake or Park or whatever it's called. Nice ride. I was more than halfway back to central Denver. If I haven't told you, I was approaching the overpass at Quebec Street where it crosses the bike trail.

We'd had a powerful rainstorm a few days previously. The rain had washed rocks and gravel onto the streets and bike paths, and it had left patches of pretty deep sand on the low-lying paths, which run alongside creeks and the South Platte River. I've seen city employees scraping the paths now and then, but no one had scraped since the storm.

I hit the sand. I'd had a flat front tire and pumped up the new tube as well as I could with my mini pump. I have to say, dear reader, I regret depending on a mini pump. Maybe I got 50psi into my 100psi tire, surely not much more.

I don't know what made the bike go out of control. The soft, broad tire? The small diameter of my folding-bike's wheel? Some control input of my own? I'm not being coy; I've thought about it and thought about it, and I don't know why the hell I crashed.

I swerved toward the opposite, on-coming side of the path. I saw to my horror that on the shoulder, someone had cemented in place large decorative rocks, low near the path and more prominent further up the mild slope. I thought, oh lord, don't let me fall on those rocks.

But I did fall on the lowest tier of rocks. On my left side. I knew I was hurt but I didn't immediately have bigtime pain. I could see that my left middle finger was ugly dislocated or broken, and that my left leg was lying strangely, unnaturally in front of me.

I had a good right arm and hand. I found my cell phone in my center jersey pocket and called 9-1-1. While I spoke with the 9-1-1 operator, I realized that I did not know the name of the overpassing street. A pair of cyclists asked me if I needed help; I asked the guy to see if he could see a street sign at the other end of the overpass. It's Quebec, he yelled back, and that's what I told the operator.

Within three minutes, I saw a group of uniformed EMTs walking under Quebec Street down the bike path toward me. I want you to try to imagine how I felt, broken and sad and helpless there on the rocks, as I saw the guys coming - like the cavalry in the old westerns that saves the little frontier community. It's 12 days now, I guess, and I still feel the same sense of gratitude and warmth and relief.

More in the next post. I'm getting tired.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Home again

As a few of you may know, I feel off my bicycle a week ago yesterday and broke my left femur, the big bone in one's thigh. I'm typing slowly because I also dislocated my left middle finger. I'm glad to be home after eight days in Denver Health, a super good trauma hospital only a mile from our place.

I tire really easily at this point after some major surgery and trying to relearn how to do most everything. I'll write a series of posts about the crash and the subsequent EMT and ambulance experience, the ER, pre-op and hospital room, and my thoughts on getting hurt so badly in a single vehicle, bike path, not especially fast or demanding riding situation.

I didn't get run over. I didn't get hit by a bike path trainer-terrorist. I did it all myself.

This is no-doubt the worst injury I've sustained in a lifetime of moderate risk. My left leg is non-weight bearing for seven more weeks. I get around behind a walker or in a wheelchair.

Look for further posts as the energy and focus come to me. I had lots of visitors in the hospital and Tamar stayed in email contact with many of you. Thank you for thinking of me in what was most definitely my hour of need...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Another car wars piece, this time from the NY Times

This is a fair-handed article about the strife in the streets of our cities and suburbs. It's three well written pages of commentary, quoting cyclists, peds and drivers. Everyone's angry, it seems...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A certain kinda guy...

Well into adulthood, I became aware that there's a kind of guy, not rare by any means, who is convinced that without his input, the world is a poorer place indeed. He hates silence and wants desperately to fill moments of quiet with his knowledge, opinions and feelings.

He doesn't want to be Joe Dude. He wants to be an authority, the last-word-dispensing, go-to guy in every area of life. Give him an opportunity; he'll prove it to you.

He hasn't bothered to acquire accurate knowledge, enlightened opinions or informed feelings. Impressing people with his inexhaustible storehouse of information is more important than the validity thereof or how welcome it is to the recipients.

The expressing is the thing, not what's expressed. He often seems to be saying things simply to be talking - loving the sound of his own voice. That's precisely what he is doing.

He'd rather be wrong than be silent. Silence never impressed anyone, right?

Women know all about these guys. Some women even marry them, knowing all along that their husband is all-too-often speaking without knowing whereof he speaks. Maybe they think all men are like that. Too damn many are.

Which brings me to my subject: internet forums - havens for the very sort of guy we're talking about here. Thousands of anonymous, ill-informed "experts" and a few genuinely smart guys.

What better place to bestow upon the world the gift of your ideas? If they are half-baked and riddled with inaccuracy, well, they're your ideas and should be as respected as the next poster's. And typically they are, because the next poster is a moron too.

No doubt one can find good information on internet owners forums. Well, I don't want to say that there's no doubt. There's doubt. Buy something that you don't know everything about or research a purchase you're about to make. Check out the owners forum - where the savvy guys are. Browse. Weigh the evidence.

Or ask the guy behind the counter at the Union 76 for directions to a place twelve miles away. He can't tell you where he is now, he's never been to the place you're going and he may never have heard of it. He's not much of a traveler. Nevertheless, he'll give you precise directions that will have you lost, frustrated and fantasizing about exploding 76 stations.

He has never driven and is petrified as a passenger on an interstate. He sees blinking lights on the fronts and rears of cars but doesn't know how they are operated.

He's a regular poster on the Porsche Owners Forum, known for his old-school attitude and his conviction that those Germans made 'em to drive, not coddle, by God.

NY Times Book Review of "Traffic;" it could be subtitled "Idiots"

Here's a link to a review in the NY Times of Traffic, a book about why the roads are as unpleasant as they are, and why they have always been that way, even in ancient times. Great review of what would have to be a terrific read.

Friday, August 8, 2008

From the latest Newsweek...

Tamar brought home the latest Newsweek from the library where she works. Newsweek lists the most commented-upon articles on Newsweek Online. The article cited (and linked) in my last post - about Portland's cycling-related strife, Pedal vs Metal, is Number One.

Road rage and cyclist rage in Portland

Here's a link to a Newsweek piece about problems in one of the bike-friendliest cities in the US. I found the link in a Bob Mionske piece in VeloNews. Mionske's articles about the legal aspects of cycling are always well presented - but they are too often sobering. I'd suggest you read them each week as they are presented on VN Online, but you should consider the sad truth - the news is often bad.

The question posed by the writer at the end of the Newsweek article is provocative: If Portland is such a safe city for cyclists, if the number of injured cyclists has not increased despite major increases in the numbers of riders, why all the problems?

I'm sorry I've neglected my blog. I wrote a couple of pieces for publication and was otherwise preoccupied. Thanks as always for reading...