Call It Research
I have crashed my new Giant Defy II road-bike twice now. It's an entry level racing bike I wanted to go fast and to keep up with any organized rides and frondos in which I might decide to participate. The first incident occurred on my very first test ride last September. The smoothest place to ride this machine was across the road at the Lynch Elementary School parking lot. I circled and circled on the smooth new asphalt, hitting bursts of 22 mph in the short distance straights, braver and more overconfident with each lap, I put my hands down into the 'drops' or lower curve of handlebars. I swooped around a curve where parents' cars queue up to get their kids. I couldn't find the brakes and got up against a curb. The bike, unlike my mountain bike, was not going to climb any part of it. Instead, it threw me, skidding onto the pavement then went on a few feet by itself. I broke the visor on my helmet and bent my shades. I skinned my knee and hip. Luckily, the carbon-fiber Giant was unscathed. Two weeks ago, I crashed again in slippery conditions. I was riding with my Thursday evening Davison group sponsored by Al's Quick Release (that refers to bicycle wheels, you perverts!). The signs on the approaches to the wood bridges and long boardwalks of the Black's Creek Nature Trail clearly warned "Slippery When Wet." The Giant understood this coefficient of moisture to smooth rubber and abruptly dumped me. Again, a bruised hip and skinned elbow resulted. I righted my little pride and joy to continue on for 10 more miles. The beginnings of something stubborn? If you don't see where I'm going with this, here is the rationalization of the writer's mind: The seeds of a story are beginning to germinate. At some point next summer, I will write the story of an aging "Master" rider who begins to enter amateur races. Let's say he attempts the 50 mile route of the August Cherry Roubaix in Traverse City. Let's say he hasn't accepted that he is no longer young and that his bones may be more brittle and his skin more velum-like. Let's say that on a long, twisty descent, he suffers a career ending fall and concussion. To enhance an image of what may transpire for my protagonist, I urge you to watch this short YouTube video "Cyclist Toms Skujin's crash at 2017 Amgen Tour of California." This Lithuanian guy is making a decent at 45mph when he loses control on a slick paint stripe. The resulting crash leaves him bloodied (the jersey torn off his left shoulder) and clearly concussed. He staggers around in the midst of other hurtling riders, vainly attempting to pick up his dislodged race radio while a neutral assistance vehicle changes his tire. He climbs back on and goes another half mile before the Cannondale-Drapak team car convinces him to quit.Reports the next day reveal that his collar bone was broken in five places.
My story will be about dogged persistence which sometimes needs to be restrained. This blog is about the inspiration for stories; and, that almost any ill-advised or foolhardy behavior or activity can be passed off as research. Ah, well, it's Thursday again. Time to head over to Davison. It looks like rain, by the way.
Chris Dungey has been an active member of Flint Area Writers for over a decade. You can explore more of Chris' writing in
Pace-Lap Blues and Other Tales from the