I'm not feeling at my best today; I'm stiff all over and my left leg hurts. Last night on my way home from work I had my first ever fall from my bike.
It was a completely unforeseeable accident, and frankly a bloody silly one, too. I was just coming to the point where the cycle track over Kew Bridge debouches into the road – I was slogging up the sloping approach, being boxed in by another cyclist who had begun to overtake me and then slowed down because he too was on a stiff slope; he was intent on turning right, I wanted to go left onto the bridge, but because of his position I was trying to keep tabs on where he was and not looking left as I should have done. As I came up towards the junction with the cycle path I looked left for the first time – and found another bike bearing down on me, coming off the slope of the bridge very fast, ridden by a huge bloke in black biker leathers covered with Harley Davison logos (god knows what he was doing on a pedal bike). He was heading not for the ramp off the cycle track but straight for the full-height kerb, and so directly at me. He was wearing dark glasses and had a pair of headphones on (I could see the wires), and he was not only not braking, but actively peddling, presumably to increase speed, despite coming down a steep slope towards a junction. He showed no sign of having seen me, and I panicked.
It was my own fault for not having looked before; but to be honest even if I had noticed the guy earlier, I would have assumed that he’d be braking sensibly on his descent and we’d be able to pass one another safely on the ramp. As it was, he was hurtling straight at me like an express train and I had no choice but to get right out of his way.
I wasn’t sure there was enough room to move forward without risking him smashing into my rear wheel, so I braked hard, dropped my feet to the ground, and managed to push myself backwards instead. But I lost my balance. I toppled with an undignified yell into the gutter, with my bike crashing on top of me. The big fella went straight past, completely oblivious, missing me by inches; he flew off the kerb showily and whizzed away in the direction of Richmond. I couldn’t help noticing, as I pushed myself upright and peered after him dazedly, that he was now cycling on the pavement.
I’m honestly not sure he ever noticed me. Maybe if you’re normally on a motorbike you get used to looking out for different things. But I wouldn’t have expected a proper biker to cycle on the pavement like a wuss. I mean, I don’t cycle on the pavement, and I’m a total wuss.
Anyway, I hauled myself to my feet, checked the Old Lady over for damage (not so much as a flake of paint) and then checked myself – torn trousers (damn; they were quite new and a nice colour), bruises and gravel burn. Gingerly rolling up the torn trouser leg revealed more bruises and a skinned knee worthy of an eight year old.
So I did as one is always advised to as an eight year old; I got straight back on my bike and started peddling again. But I’m afraid that when I got in I opened the bottle of Laphroaig I keep in the bottom of the wardrobe, and poured myself a stiff drink, before settling down to wash the gravel burn and the skinned kneecap, slap TCP on them, and coat most of my left leg in bruise ointment.
Poor little me, eh? But it could have been so much worse. Really, if I never take a more serious tumble than that, I shall count myself lucky. After all, I didn’t break anything!
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