Saturday, September 22, 2007

Biking to work... maybe not such a good idea

Flush with the success of my long afternoon bike ride, I decided to bike to Caltech on Friday. Unfortunately, it was not entirely successful.

I was a little bit shaky on my feet for some unknown reason (I had taken my meds), but I figured once I got on the bike everything would be fine. And most of the way there, things were in fact fine. I rode on the right-hand edge of the right-most lane, and occasionally on the sidewalk, when the lanes were so narrow that a car could not pass me without coming uncomfortably close to me.

I made it all the way to Caltech (about 2 miles), and then at the traffic light by the tennis courts, I went up onto the sidewalk to push the button for pedestrians crossing in the crosswalk. My plan was to get off at this point, and walk the short remaining distance to my office. But as I started to dismount on the sidewalk, I lost my balance, and ended up falling backwards and sprawling out onto the sidewalk. As I fell, I hit the back of my head on the traffic light pole, which would have probably hurt quite a bit, had I not been wearing my helmet. I was not seriously (or even unseriously) injured, so I stood back up and dusted myself off. A student waiting for the walk signal asked me if I were OK, and I assured her that I was -- just a bit embarrassed, perhaps.

On the way back home in the afternoon, I unfortunately had another crash. This one was near Arroyo Parkway, also on the sidewalk. No one else was involved, and no one was hurt. Still, I was quite disappointed to have two crashes on this simple route I had ridden many times before without any crash. It showed me that I am not yet at 100% capability, and suggested that I be a bit more conservative in setting my bike-riding goals. Maybe I am not yet ready for a 2-mile ride down California Blvd, full of traffic and lots of traffic signals.

I think for a while at least, I will restrict my bike riding to streets in the neighborhood, many of which only have traffic due to local residents coming and going, and are very wide and fairly level. Oh well, maybe I was pushing the recovery schedule too much. I'll take things one step at a time, and only allow myself to ride to Caltech, or ride on any of the busy Pasadena thoroughfares without marked bike lanes (California, Del Mar, Green, ...) when I am truly ready. Hopefully it won't be too long, but we'll just see...