kick ‘em when they’re down

red light2Warning: This post contains blood!

The other day I’m out riding my bike. I’ve just left my apartment and am headed left, towards the light. The plan is to turn right onto the main road and hit a few hills. I’ve been missing my bike! Trouble is, the light’s red and there’s a car there, also turning right. I come up slowly behind it, clicked into  my pedals but ready to click out, waiting to see what it does. The car starts to go but then stops, starts again and stops, and (those of you who are cyclists know where this is going) . . . Crash! I’d lost my momentum; I knew I was going to fall, and I did.

I toppled hard to my right, and even on the ground had difficulty getting out of my pedals. My left calf was smarting, but I didn’t pay it any attention. A passenger in a car waiting to turn left beside me had rolled down his window so that I could hear him laughing at me. I ignored him — didn’t look over —  and finally got upright again. The indecisive car had finally moved on and my lane was clear. I peddled on.

It wasn’t until about ten minutes later that I realized my calf was still stinging. I looked down and was surprised by what I saw. My calf had hit my front derailleur when I went down, and blood and grease were etched nicely, chain-ring fashion, into the back of my leg . . .

photoI finished my ride — what’s a little blood? — but when I was cleaning my injury when I got home (that stung), I couldn’t help remembering that lovely passenger and the way he’d laughed at me. Jerk! Did he have any idea I could have actually hurt myself when I fell? Has he ever even ridden a road bike?

Those of you who are avid cyclists may be laughing at me, too. Perhaps it’s been years since you’ve fallen off your bike. But the fact is, you know you’ve done it, and, despite that man’s ridicule and likely assumption, my ego wasn’t bruised. I’ve fallen off my bike before, and I will again. It happens in cycling in the same way it does in life, and every time it does, I learn better how to keep it from happening again: Next time I’ll be sure to click out ahead of time, just in case.

No, my ego wasn’t bruised when I fell. If anything, I was proud of myself for falling and riding on. My faith in humanity, on the other hand . . .

Why do we revel in kicking a man when he’s down? Don’t we understand that that could be us?

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Update: My laptop is currently at the shop! Here’s hoping Apple can fix whatever damage was done under warranty. If not, I may have to quit blogging for a while . . . Ha! I hope not!

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Images: Mine and Pinterest

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70 thoughts on “kick ‘em when they’re down

  1. matt says:

    Perhaps you’re lucky to have faith in humanity at all…

  2. Pat . says:

    Ouch! And well done on not following the jerk, hunting him down, and torching his car.

    • Jessica says:

      Haha, Pat. I won’t say it didn’t cross my mind… Kidding! Nothing could have been further from the truth. I was mostly intent on getting the heck out of there — and reminding myself that I would never see those people again!

  3. JMC813 says:

    HAHA…..As a fellow cyclist I know exactly how you feel. I think every cyclist who has made the conversion to clipless pedals has been in your “cycling shoes” at one point or another. Unfortunately non-cycling drivers seem to have a disgust with us at times. I am guessing that the driver was probably somewhat overweight and probably on the way to or from a fast food place, or maybe donuts depending on the time of day. lol. I haven’t been riding lately and I am missing my bikes as well.
    Keep Inspiring, and riding

    • JMC813 says:

      Oops, I meant passenger, but the driver too probably. lol. Just the way I see it in my head. Good for you for finishing the ride by the way. Us endurance athletes are a tough bunch. I wish more people understood to what extent.

      • Jessica says:

        Passenger, driver — it’s all the same to me. I didn’t look to see who was laughing so it easily could have been both! (I do think there was more than one person in the car.) They were probably *both* on their way to McDonalds… Haha. Teasing! Now *I’m* hating — not cool!

        You’re right, though, about toughness. I think I’ll be writing a post about something along those lines in the near future. I’ve always been tough, but never really thought myself to be. It’s just the way I am (and other endurance athletes, too) — in every area of my life. The worst insult I could ever receive would be for someone to call me a wimp.

    • Jessica says:

      Haha, glad to know I’m not alone! (I didn’t think I was, as I said, but it’s always nice to have that reassurance.) Yeah, clip pedals can be a pain. I said my ego wasn’t hurt — and it wasn’t — but I’ve certainly felt a fool a time or two. It really does irritate me when drivers get mad at or make fun of cyclists, though. I mean, I get it if a cyclist isn’t following the rules of the road, but the thing is: I do! I stop at red lights and stop signs and signal when I’m moving one way or the other. And you know what else? I’m good for the environment! If more people would ride bikes more often, this world (and they) would be both healthier and happier.
      Thanks for the encouragement! Pull out your bike when you can!
      Jess

      • JMC813 says:

        Alas, Drivers (not all) will continue to treat us with contempt. I love my Road Cycling, but would be lost without a good mountain bike ride now and then. Where my 2 wheeled adventure began so many years ago. A post about toughness. I will be looking for it. I am composing a little something about Race Day myself. Should be up in a day or so. You have inspired me. Both to ride and to write about riding. Thanks a bunch.

  4. Okay, the fact that you actually thought to take a picture of your own leg injury is the greatest thing ever… ;op

    That being said, had I been in your situation the laughy guy would have been treated to a couple of birds, and possibly a rock. So, in that you didn’t stoop to his level, YOU have restored MY faith in humanity.

    • Jessica says:

      Aww, Vance. You’re really too nice. I was honestly just in a hurry to get myself out of the situation. Whether I have reason to be embarrassed or mad or not, there is only so much being laughed at that I enjoy taking… And the picture? Haha. I took it so I could text it to my boyfriend to show him how hardcore I am! :D Kidding! Thoughts about writing this post came shortly after. :)

  5. Myles says:

    You know, when you see a plane coming in to land, it looks pretty smooth. But inside the plane you’re rocking back and forth and it is, arguably, the most turbulent part of the flight. I am NOT defending the jerk, but maybe, just maybe, it didn’t look as bad to him as it was experienced, and felt, by you. Having said that, it’s still unforgivable. Jerk!

    • Jessica says:

      Haha, oh, I know. To see a cyclist fall of their own accord looks pretty silly. And yeah, he likely had no idea that I’d hurt myself. (Like I said, I’ve fallen many times before and certainly haven’t ended up with an injury like that every time.) But still. I personally would never roll down my window so someone could hear me ridicule them — even if it *was* funny.

  6. Humans have an inexhaustible capacity for being jackasses.

  7. I had a guy pass too closely this morning and I think he did it on purpose. Not to mention that women, in general, don’t seem to know that they are driving too close. The roads I travel are narrow, no sidewalks.

    • Jessica says:

      Pass too closely while you were riding, Mario? Ugh. That’s always enough to shake you up a bit! But, hey! Be careful about the generalizations you make about women drivers! We’re not *all* bad… I really dislike riding on roads with narrow shoulders, too. I don’t feel safe. Be safe!

      • Generally, when someone passed too close, it turned out to be a woman. Sorry, that’s how generalizations are formed and they do not imply a total population. In my case this perception was formed by the majority of examples. Perhaps, it was because of the time I was on the road, perhaps another generalization that women tend to be stay-at-home moms raising children. At any point a generalization can be formed. The entire population of women is also not implied by virtue of the fact that I will never be passed by all women in the world or men for that matter to compare driving styles. I am sure you are a good driver, mainly because you’ve ridden a bike. Would it be true to say that more men than women ride bikes? By the way this is very interesting relative to an article I read today about bullying in the workplace. When I see these men seemingly intentionally trying to get too close to me I sense that in their bullying, they sense the weakness of my being on a bike and their being in a big SUV. Where their lack of ability to control their lives causes them to want to attack weakness, where they find it, I can understand why they might do this. Women, on the other hand, do not seem to be malicious, in general. But, tell me, how do they manifest this lack of control of their lives?

  8. Dan McGaffin says:

    It’s a shame he didn’t ask if you were okay or needed assistance instead. Jerk indeed.

  9. prewitt1970 says:

    Sorry about your crash and interaction with the lovely human. People can be so cold and callus at times. That is until they require the kindness of strangers. I hope you heal well.
    Always
    Benjamin

  10. dalo2013 says:

    The tension between cars and bicycles is crazy…and I admit I’ve felt frustrations on both sides of this ‘war': when I ride, cars are at fault and when I drive, cyclists are crazy. But there is always respect… And you handled it well, ignoring the asses that exist in all areas of life :-)

    Enjoy the rest of the week.

    • Jessica says:

      Yup. The tensions is always there no matter where you go. It’s just a part of life. But even if I’d never been a cyclist, I still wouldn’t ridicule one if he fell!

      Hope you have a great rest of your week, too, Randall. I’ll be trying to catch up with your latest post(s?) soon!

  11. Jean says:

    What a weird car driver. Keep cycling but give yourself time to recover and be on quieter streets for awhile. I’ve fallen off my bike several times…all 3 times over the last 7 years have been on black ice.

    • Jessica says:

      Black ice? Now *there’s* a good excuse for a fall! Mine was just plain bad judgment. I’d claim inexperience but I’ve been riding for almost ten years now… Thank you for your kind words. I’m almost fully recovered now!

  12. iamforchange says:

    Ouch… and Ouch, that is real blood.:) I would have to say I am not laughing and hope you have many rides on your bike before you have another such encounter wit both the bike and the silly human. :)

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you… Thank you for not laughing at me and for your kind words. I’ve been riding since then and no falls and no laughter, so here’s hoping that that trend continues! Hope you’re having a lovely day!

  13. The last time I rode a bike (had only got a bike because my car had completely died) was when I was still in school and working full time, and had to go to one city in the morning to school and another city for work after words. I was just getting the hang of riding again, just a little bit of confidence when I went up on to a curb and went flying off my bike. It was the morning commute and I just waited on the ground for a second because I wanted to hear that, “oh, are you ok man?” but no one said anything. I got up and made it to school but during class my elbow started hardening up. Turned out I had a broken arm. Never rode again after that…

    • Jessica says:

      Oh my word! That is quite a story, Sreejit! I’m so sorry! Was that in India? Riding on roads can be dangerous, I’ll admit. And it is so sad when no one even asks if another person, who’s obviously just been injured, is okay… I love riding my bike, but I’m not sure I’d do it if I didn’t *generally* feel pretty safe doing so.

      Thanks for sharing, Sreejit. Hope you’re well!

      • No, that was when I was living in California. I went to school at Cal State Hayward (now East Bay or some other new name) and I worked in San Ramon. It only lasted about a week, then after I broke my arm people started giving me lifts, and I left the bike at home.

      • Jessica says:

        Yeah, riding in the Central Valley can be scary. A lot of people ride their bikes in SF, but I would be frightened! Glad people decided to help you out after that… But sorry for the bad experience!… Not *all* bike riding is bad, though. ;)

  14. Bumba says:

    Sympathy from another bike rider. I just ride regular pedals, though, so perhaps fewer problems. Eff those drivers, that’s all. Keep riding. My latest post happens to be a song called One More Time, and the lyrics are about getting back on the bike again.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi Bumba! I will check out your post soon! I always get back on my bike — every time. I wonder if this would change if I had a serious accident? I’ve rock-climbed since I had my bad fall, but I can’t remember most of that… Anyhow, I really do like being clipped in when I ride, but it *can* be a little dangerous sometimes! What kind of bike do you ride?

      Nice to hear from you! Hope you’re having a great day!

  15. Gloryteller says:

    I have bike wounds, but none as artistically beautiful as yours.
    Accidental art – I’ve heard of suffering for your art, but you take it to a new level. ;)

    • Jessica says:

      Haha. Suffering for your art. I hadn’t thought of that! They definitely are some of the strangest looking scratches I’ve ever had! The grease-blood combo really make the pic. :D

  16. 1EarthUnited says:

    Whoa, how surreal! Your pic is heroic, looks a bit like special effects stitches or a gnarly tattoo. Yes we all fall down, but you got back up with dignity and perseverance. Can’t say that about the other guy! I’ve recently gotten into biking (joined a bike club in London), and I’m hooked. Biking is pure freedom, you and the machine become one. See ya on the road of life. :D

    • Jessica says:

      Haha, I don’t know about heroic. Falling off my bike is not exactly an act of heroism! And the wound wasn’t too deep, thankfully. But, yes, every time I fall, I always get back up. Isn’t that what life’s all about? And I love the freedom that cycling brings, too! Glad you’re enjoying it!!

      Thanks for the lovely comment! Always nice to hear from you. :)

  17. Terri Nelson says:

    I’ve never been able to figure out the lack of empathy. That skid mark on your leg looks kind of like it’s begging for an infection. So sorry!

  18. ugh. how discouraging! but i’m thankful it was not a more serious injury. i see patients come in all the time after having been thrown off their bikes or having been hit by cars. it’s really sad. stay safe!

    • Jessica says:

      thank you, sophia. yeah, that guy made me sad. but oh well. and i do try to stay safe! but i figure if riding my bike is the way i’m meant to go, then that’s the way i’m meant to go! as bilbo baggins used to say:

      “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

  19. Kevin says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with my clipless. I am thinking of converting the road bike clipless with my mountain clipless – heavier but much more forgiving and easier to dislodge. Sydney has a hate/hate relationship between car drivers and everyone else.

    • Jessica says:

      I’ve never tried clipless. Sounds tricky! But it sure would be nice to be able to get out of my pedals more easily… Sydney is in my top ten places to see someday. I’m pretty sure there’s a love/hate relationship between cars and everyone/thing else everywhere, though. In Taiwan, as a driver, I *hated* scooters!

      Hope you’re having a lovely week!

  20. I am a cyclist but it also happens to walkers as well. I once stepped out into the road to get into position to cross and even though I was not in the way of the traffic a car deliberately swerved at me so I had to jump back and fall back onto the pavement. I could see they thought it was hilarious but if I hadn’t got out of the way I could have been seriously injured.

    I was furious…in fact I am still when I remember it.

    • Jessica says:

      Yes… I talked in a previous post about drivers honking at me while I was on my bike. When they come up behind you and you don’t expect it, it can be quite startling and definitely cause accidents. Grr. I just don’t get it. But that’s when I have to just take a deep breath and remember that there are nice people out there, too… somewhere… on my blog… Hahaha.

      Glad you’re okay! Lovely to hear from you, Alex!

  21. anawnimiss says:

    Sorry to hear about your injury. I do hope you’re better now. And yes, it is such a shame that people can find it in themselves to laugh at other people’s misery. I don’t know what the being human hoo-ha is all about, anymore!

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you! The injury is much better now. Was really no big deal. But yes, people. What are we to do with them? *shaking head* Sigh…

      At least there are nice people out there like you! Thank you for the lovely comment. Hope you’re having a great day!

  22. Shoes Summerfield says:

    It’s a shame when the world shows how careless and self-centered it can be; laughing at the calamities of others instead of being sympathetic and offering a hand. Glad you’re not broken. Try and stay safe out there!

  23. Sam Han says:

    This reminds me of my brthday ride ast year. I am still haunted by it. My brother nearly crash into the tram (Melbourne) and i am just not born to ride. I hope your wound is healing :D Take care.

  24. What a jerk. I’m sorry to hear about that. Glad you’re OK, though.

  25. I always carry a bazooka for clowns who stick their heads out of cars and laugh. Mostly, I just shoot off their wheels. ;-)

    • Jessica says:

      Haha! I don’t know how carrying a bazooka would work while I’m riding my bike. But I *do* wonder how they’d feel if the rolls were reversed. I really don’t think any of the people who laugh at — or honk or holler or try to scare — cyclists have ever been on a road bike. It’s harder than it looks!

      Thanks for your support! Always lovely to hear from you. :)

  26. Vincent Mars says:

    Poor Jessica!

    (Serves her well for riding a bike in a busy city!)

    I really think it depends on the driver. If it was me, I would have helped you onto the back seat and delivered you to the nearest hospital. And then we would have stopped in a bookshop and purchased books on Tips for Beginner Cyclists or the like.

    I hope you wear a helmet!

    • Vincent Mars says:

      Other than that, Jessica fell from greater heights in the past, and still got up. No bike crash will keep her down. :)

    • Jessica says:

      Lol. You would have been far too kind. Although I’m really not a beginner. I’ve been riding a road bike for almost ten years now. Getting in and out of bike pedals can be tough!

      I do wear a helmet, although I must admit doing so is almost useless as my straps are usually not tightly tied. I guess you could say I like living on the edge.

  27. Loved it! Really don’t know why some people feel good when others fall. :(

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