Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day of hills and cobblestones, and cobblestone hills, and getting hit by cars

Yes, that's right! Today was a (mostly) happy day of hills!

I love hills. Love love love them. Seriously. They are inspiring, I like the way they each have a personality, and I think they feel great. I love to climb. And, this is a lucky thing given that I live in Pittsburgh, the city with the steepest legal paved road in the country.

Just in case you don't believe that Pittsburgers consider our hills serious business and a matter of pride:

But, even if I didn't love hill climbing, they still serve a purpose. Where else in an urban area can a person really go all out and peddle to their max? It's hard to find an area with enough space and no traffic lights without going outside of the city. With a reasonably light road bike, sometimes it's hard to feel like I'm peddling at all in the city. And then, a hill is a very welcome excuse to put out some effort!

So, today, my ride plan was to head towards a known big hill and go up it, and then pick my route by looking for the next visible big hill and going up it, and repeat. It worked out well. I had a ~2 hour serendipedous hill-fest, with some light rain followed by a lot of sunshine, and some great sunset views from the tops of those peaks.

And, then there was the getting hit by cars... luckily, both were very low speed. One was a car that realized a little two late that it was turning into me, and then basically just tapped me hard enough (while I was climbing as a low speed) to knock me over. This car was very apologetic and concerned. And, given that she did stop before really hitting me, and apologized profusely, I forgave and reassured her that I was fine - which I was. At that point, the endorphins had started kicking in and I was in that overwhelmingly giddy sunny-day cycling place that makes me unable to do much else but smile and remark on how beautiful the world is. I think maybe the big grin as I was toppling over unnerved the driver. Maybe that is why she was so concerned, thinking, "Goodness, what is wrong with that spandex-clad, strange little man who keeps on maniacly smiling at me and seems to be attached to his bicycle!?"

Car number two was not so innocent or kind. In fact, he saw my flashing, reflective, bright orange blur of a person on bike and began to accelerate straight into me. I swear he even made eye contact. Luckily, I was only two feet in front of him, so he didn't have much time to accelerate. His girlfriend (who had been pointing at me) started screaming when I went partially under the front bumper. Again, no real damage done. I pulled myself up off of the ground, but didn't move from in front of the car despite the drivers trying to get me to move so he could go on with his trip. I wanted to be sure that there was no real damage to my bike before I let him drive off. I think my bike is fine, everything was moving properly when I looked it over at the scene of the incident - it seemed a little creaky riding afterwards, but that might just be because I was listening for it.
What I didn't start to feel until afterwards was the point of impact; my left lower leg and ankle. I have a bit of a bruise just starting to come up, but nothing too serious. It will probably just be sore for a few days. I also sliced my knee open on the edge of their front licence plate holder on my way down.

The damage:

apparently it's quite difficult to take a picture of your own legs without having them look disembodied

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